TERRIFYING footage captures the moment two SeaWorld killer whales tried to drown their trainer by dragging him to the bottom of their pool.
As the horrified audience watch on, the two orcas repeatedly slam into the young man, leaving him bruised and bloody from the attack.
Kandu V had a reputation as one of SeaWorld California's most violent killer whales.
She was brought to the park as a calf in October 1977, and from the offset, appeared to struggle with life in captivity.
Kandu's most notorious moment came on March 4, 1987, when she had been at the San Diego park for over nine years.
The entire horrifying incident was captured on video.
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While performing alongside 10-year-old female orca Kenau, Kandu was being ridden by a young trainer Jonathan Smith, 21.
In the video, Kandu suddenly grabs Smith in her teeth and drags him to the bottom of the tank, before carrying him, bleeding profusely, back to the surface and spitting him out.
Aware the attack is taking place in front of a shocked audience, Smith tries to keep the crowd calm by waving to them.
However, suddenly, a second orca slams into him.
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Smith continues to pretend he is unhurt as both whales repeatedly smash into him, dragging him to the bottom of the 32-foot-deep pool during a terrifying encounter lasting almost two and a half minutes.
Among his long list of injuries were a series of cuts to his torso, bruised ribs, a ruptured kidney, and a six-inch gash on his liver.
Miraculously, he was able to escape and get out of the pool but sued the park the following March.
He claimed officials hid the "dangerous propensities of killer whales" from him and assured him it was safe to take part in the shows, even though he had no formal training.
Suing the park for fraud, battery, and emotional distress, his case was settled out of court, with a gag order imposed as part of the settlement agreement.
There came a point where I may have thought, 'This is it, I'm going to die'
SeaWorld says that it has drastically changed its practices and that the sorts of incidents involving Kandu 5 could now never take place.
A SeaWorld spokesperson previously said: "Trainers have not been in the water training or performing with killer whales at SeaWorld since 2010.
"There have been no incidents as described in this article since these changes were made more than a decade ago.
"Our hundreds of veterinarians and care specialists provide world-class medical care.
"None of the killer whales in our care live a solitary life and they participate in positive reinforcement sessions daily, engaging in a range of different activities to ensure they receive plenty of physical and mental exercise.
"Additionally, the study of orcas in our care by our scientists and third-party organisations has directly informed the world’s knowledge of and ability to protect whales in the wild."
At the time, former chief trainer at SeaWorld David Butcher said: "These guys were playing and got a little carried away and bumped into Jon."
Butcher had been fired in December 1987 after another trainer was seriously injured.
Following the near-death encounter, Smith reportedly earned the nickname Jonah, after the biblical figure.
Speaking to the LA Times in March 1988, Smith said he thought Kandu would kill him.
"I remember it crystal clear," he said. "I think there came a point where I may have thought, 'This is it, I'm going to die'."
He said he was still struggling some six months after the attack.
"Not only have I suffered physically, I think to an extent I have suffered emotionally as well," he went on.
"I am still recovering… I'm not up to 100 per cent physical shape or near that yet."
Just months after Smith's horrific injuries, SeaWorld decided to let humans rejoin killer whales in the water for their performances, despite then-parent company chairman William Jovanovich pledging after what happened that trainers would "never again enter" the pools.
Asked about the decision, Smith said: "I'm not going to say they're wrong, and I'm not going to say they're right. I just don't want to see anyone get hurt again and have to go through what I went through."
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