Family discusses life of Dawn Brancheau

Published On: Oct 28 2011 04:16:53 PM EDT   Updated On: Apr 04 2011 12:52:03 PM EDT

For the past year, Dawn Brancheau has mostly been known only for the tragic accident at SeaWorld Orlando in which she was dragged under water and killed by a killer whale.

Her family on Monday tried to change that, telling the CBS "Early Show" what they remember most about Brancheau.

"For a year, we've heard about the events. We're here today to tell you about our Dawn. She was the most inspirational, loving, joyous person you could have ever met," said Diane Gross, Brancheau's sister.

It's the first time since Brancheau's death in February 2010 that the family has publicly discussed their loss.

"I'm bad, yeah. It's been a tough year, but things are getting better," said Marion Loverde, Brancheau's mother.

The family also showed pictures of Brancheau, who was constantly smiling.

"She was very involved in her friends lives, our lives, in a way that this is a very difficult loss for us," said Thomas Loverde, Brancheau's brother.

Brancheau's family was also asked about the fact that Tilikum, the whale that killed Brancheau, is again performing in SeaWorld's shows.

"She loved and cared for Tillikum the best that she could, and we want that for Tillikum also," said Darlyne Klages, Brancheau's sister. "So that's up to SeaWorld what to do, so if that's what's best for Tillikum, that's what we would want also."

"We're certainly not safety experts, and we really do leave that up to SeaWorld (or) whoever is handling this," said Deborah Frogameni, Brancheau's sister. "We know that's important to SeaWorld also. We're pretty confident that they're going to take that into consideration -- and obviously trainer safety is important -- but they're not going to do anything to put their trainers in peril."

The family said they will also dedicate an educational complex to Brancheau at SeaWorld later this month.

"April 16th would be Dawn's birthday, so we're hosting a 5k run family walk at Seaworld in Orlando. Benefits and portions of the proceeds will go to the Central Florida's Children's home," Thomas Loverde said. "Following that, there will be a dedication of the existing education facility and it will now be the Dawn Brancheau Educational Complex, so we're really proud that her name will remain at that facility since it was such an important part of her life."

Watch Local 6 News for more on this story.


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