SeaWorld Trainer Mourned in Chicago

Mourners weap after funeral services for SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau, Monday, March 1, 2010, in Chicago. Brancheau, a veteran SeaWorld trainer, died Wednesday in Florida after rubbing a 22-foot, 12,000-pound orca named Tilikum. The animal grabbed her ponytail and pulled her into the water in front of about 20 spectators. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green) AP Photo/M. Spencer Green

SeaWorld whale trainer Dawn Brancheau was remembered Monday for the "light" she gave to her work, family, friends and faith.

That was the sentiment of the Rev. Thomas McCarthy, who officiated Brancheau's funeral at St. Rita of Cascia Shrine Chapel on Chicago's South Side.

Brancheau, 40, died Wednesday in Florida after rubbing a 22-foot, 12,000-pound orca named Tilikum. The animal grabbed her ponytail and pulled her into the water in front of about 20 spectators.

The medical examiner says Brancheau likely died of traumatic injuries and drowning.

WKMG: Watch Trainer with Tilikum Before Attack

Her funeral featured inspirational songs, music singer Terri Lenz said was chosen to fit Brancheau and her fun-loving personality.

After the funeral, Brancheau was buried in a suburban Chicago cemetery.

According to a profile of Brancheau in the Orlando Sentinel in 2006, she was one of SeaWorld Orlando's leading trainers. It was a trip to SeaWorld at age 9 that made her want to follow that career path.

"I remember walking down the aisle (of Shamu Stadium) and telling my mom, 'This is what I want to do,"' she said in the article.

Brancheau worked her way into a leadership role at Shamu Stadium during her career with SeaWorld, starting at the Sea Lion & Otter Stadium before spending 10 years working with killer whales, the newspaper said.

She also addressed the dangers of the job.

"You can't put yourself in the water unless you trust them and they trust you," Brancheau said.

Brancheau's older sister, Diane Gross, said the trainer "would not want anything done to that whale."

The trainer was married and didn't have children.

"She loved the whales like her children, she loved all of them," said Gross, of Indiana. "They all had personalities, good days and bad days."

More on SeaWorld Tragedy
Whale, Trainer Play on Film Before Attack
SeaWorld Defends Serial Killer Whale
SeaWorld: The Show Must Go On
Ex-SeaWorld Official: Trainer Made Mistake
Dawn Brancheau's Last Moments Alive
SeaWorld Trainer Embraced Risks of Job
SeaWorld Dives into Damage Control
Trainer Has "No Fear" of Killer Whales
Tilikum Trainer Had to be Pulled From Jaws
Does Killer Whale Need a Lawyer?
SeaWorld Staff Saw Tilikum as Dangerous
What Caused Killer Whale to Attack?
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