Skyla also started to act out her frustrations on the trainers. In the spring of 2009, during a public show, 5-year-old female Skyla started pushing her trainer around the pool and up against the pool wall. Shortly thereafter, special protocols (limits on water work and a mandate that only senior trainers work with her) that had been standard practice for Tekoa after the incident in 2007 were enacted for Skyla as well.
Now only Kohana and Keto could be used for waterworks.
In 2009, with Christmas approaching, Martínez was selected to perform in the holiday show, alongside SeaWorld San Diego's Brian Rokeach. On the fatal day, December 24, Martínez and Rokeach, along with five other Orca Ocean trainers, ran through a morning practice session with Keto, who worked alone in the show pool while the other three killer whales were secured in the two back pools.
It was known that Keto preferred to know what was going on with the other whales rather than perform alone, in Martinez's diary it quoted an incident in the September when Keto was again working alone and after a perimeter ride, was seen vocalizing and circling the pool at high speed once the trainer had got off.
During that fatal day, Rokeach was working from the stage of the showpool and Martinez entered the water. Keto started off well, but then Martínez tried a behavior called a stand-on spy hop, in which he stood on Keto's rostrum as Keto drove his body vertically up and out of the water. Keto was leaning slightly as he rose from the surface, and Martínez fell off. Because the stunt had not been executed cleanly, Keto was not bridged (rewarded).
A short time later, Martínez initiated another spy hop. Again, Keto came up twisting, and this time Martínez responded with an LRS. To help get Keto back on track, he was called to a shallow ledge across the pool from the main stage, and when he obeyed another trainer rewarded him with two handfuls of fish. Keto, according to the report, seemed calm. Martínez then told Rokeach and the others that he was going to ride Keto down into the pool and up onto the stage, a sequence called a haul-down into stage haul-out.
On the way down Keto went too deep, and as he approached the bottom of the 12-meter pool Martínez abandoned the haul-out and asked Keto to follow his hand with his rostrum. Together they drifted up to the surface, and again Martínez responded to Keto's failure with an LRS. (When they don't perform correctly, the trainer reacts with a three-second neutral response and withholds the reward. This is known as a least-reinforcing scenario, or LRS.)
This time, though, Keto responded oddly. According to the incident report, "Keto surfaced with Alexis and seemed calm, but appeared to position himself between Alexis and the stage. Alexis waited for calm from Keto and requested a stage call via underwater tone." Keto responded and swam over to Rokeach, who was standing on the stage. But Rokeach observed that Keto appeared "not committed to remaining under control" and a little "big-eyed." Instead of walking back to get a fish bucket, Rokeach asked another trainer to bring it to him. Like Martínez, Rokeach gave Keto a hand target to focus him, one of the simplest and first behaviors most marine-park killer whales learn. When Rokeach felt Keto was under better control, he asked Martínez, who had been waiting patiently near the center of the pool, to swim slowly toward the slide-over (a ramp connecting the show pool to the back pools) at the edge of the main stage so he could get out of the water. Notably, the incident report makes no mention of Rokeach feeding Keto any fish.
As Martínez started to paddle gently through the water, the report indicates, Keto took note and started to lean in his direction. Sensing he was about to lose control, Rokeach gave Keto another hand target. This time Keto ignored it. He went after Martínez, driving him to the bottom of the pool with his nose. (In his testimony to Canary Islands' investigators, Orca Ocean assistant supervisor Rafael Sanchez said, "The animal in question moved towards him and hit him and violently played with his body.")
Rokeach and the other trainers did what they could, but a powerful 6,600-pound killer whale is the master of his domain. Rokeach slapped the water and banged the bucket on the stage, both signals for Keto to return. He slapped the water again, and this time Keto responded, leaving Martínez at the bottom of the pool-Martínez had been under an estimated 30 seconds by then-and surfacing without him. Rokeach sounded the emergency alarm. Keto took a quick breath, returned to Martínez, and then came back to the surface carrying Martínez' limp body across his rostrum. Rokeach called for the team to get a net in the water while others raced to corral the other three killer whales into one of the back pools. It took almost two minutes to get Keto out of the show pool and secure the gate between the pools (Keto slowed the process by about a minute by interfering with the gate as trainers tried to close it).
By this point, Martínez-apart from the brief moment Keto brought him to the surface-had been on the bottom of the pool for almost 3 minutes. Rokeach and another trainer dove in and resurfaced with Martínez, who was unconscious and had blood coming from his nose and mouth. A distraught Rokeach immediately initiated CPR. A defibrillator was brought out, and Loro Parque called for an ambulance. But Martínez was never revived.
Loro Parque issued a statement saying Martínez's death was an "unfortunate accident" and that he had likely died due to asphyxiation resulting from compression of his chest. "After completing the [exercise]," the statement said, "Alexis was knocked by the orca in an unexpected reaction of the animal," adding that "the study of the facts shows that the animal's behavior did not correspond to the way in which these marine mammals attack their prey in the wild, but was rather a shifting of position."
But as with Dawn Brancheau, the autopsy report for Martínez showed a different scenario.
According to the analysis, the immediate cause of death was a "pulmonary edema", while the fundamental cause of death was "mechanical asphyxiation due to compression and crushing of the thoracic abdomen with injuries to the vital organs".
The examination not only reveals multiple fractures – "the entire anterior rib cage," sternum, ribs – and injuries – "bruised lungs with rips in the pleura", "liver with a wide tear" - but also the bite marks of the animal: "The rounded marks of the external exam are compatible with the teeth marks of an orca. The morphology may be partially reduced due to the wetsuit worn by personnel during the work day",cautions the report.
On December 26, two days after the incident, the zoo distributed a written statement in which they invoked the"preliminary data", and stated that the body "did not present signs of violence, nor hitting or biting, being the lack of oxygen which appears to be the cause of death, ruling out an attack."
Three days later Loro Parque released another statement which then speaks of the injuries and the violence of the event,explains that "at the conclusion of the exercise, Alexis was pushed violently by the orca due to an unexpected reaction from the animal." In addition, it also states that the trainer of marine mammals "suffered injuries due to compression of the thoracic area, and thus lack of oxygen is the most probable cause of death."In this same report, Loro Parque states that "in reviewing the details it shows that the behavior of the animal did not correspond with how these marine mammals attack their prey in the wild, but rather with how they displace."
Contradicting this, the report of the ambulance personnel of the Servicio de Urgencias Canario which transported Alexis to the hospital – part of which was included in the forensic medical report – describes a "man of 29 years old, who is in cardio respiratory arrest after suffering an attack from an orca." Later in the report they surmise that the zoo trainer "suffered injuries from one of the orcas that affected the vital organs, grave injuries that resulted in death."
In other words, Keto slammed so hard into Alix Martinez he caved in his chest.
The trainers were kept out of the water for a day as they were in the Seaworld parks, then everything resumed as normal, well as normal as possible saying that now three out of the four orcas at Loro Parque are banned from waterworks with trainers.
SeaWorld, to date, has never made a public statement regarding the death of Alexis Martinez, even though SeaWorld still owns the whale that killed him.
The pool still was dysfunctional as seems to be the planning. On October 12th 2010 a very young 8 year old Kohana gave birth to Keto's calf Adan. As you can see from the video clip she didn't rush over to help him take his first breath, and she wanted nothing to do with him from the moment he came out.