Clipped From Ukiah Daily Journal
Sea World suit results from whale-trainer injury SAN DIEGO (AP) — The chairman of Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Inc. blasted three former Sea World managers, saying their "negligence" led to the serious injury of a killer whale trainer. In a rare news conference Tuesday before reporters, William Jovanovich accused the managers of adopting a dangerous approach to whale-training, then misleading him about the extent and severity of injuries to young trainers. Jovanovich, who runs the parent company of the San Diego-based marine park chain, said a recent inhouse investigation determined that about 14 separate injuries were reported by killer whale trainers between August and Nov. 21. "The fact-finding by our committee showed that there "was negligence," Jovanovich said. "It showed that three of the trainers in the pool had such meager training it was a wonder they could even perform the most elementary aspects of their positions," he said. The latest and most serious incident occurred on Nov. 21, when trainer John Sillick was crushed by a 6-ton whale that landed on him as he rode another whale during a show. Sillick remains hospitalized in fair condition with a broken pelvis, leg and ribs. News reports last week reported that park president Jan Schultz, chief zoologist Lanny Cornell and chief trainer David Butcher had been fired. Sea World officials had refused to confirm the reports, saying the managers were suspended not fired. Also Tuesday, attorneys representing Schultz filed suit in Super- ior Court in San Diego against Sea World, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich and Jovanovich, alleging breach of contract, breach of good faith interference with a contract and defamation. Schultz, a 17-year Sea World veteran, has said the executives were the "scapegoat" for the pool incidents. His attorney, Brian Monaghan, said Jovanovich's statements "were the straw that broke the camel's back." Jovanovich said he ordered the shake-up because the executives failed to implement safety prccau lions after he expressed concern about the trainers' welfare. "I came to this park and said to these people, 'I'm extremely worried, I'm upset. Please pay attention,'" Jovanovich said. "They assured me they were. They didn't."