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Acrobats fall during Ringling Bros. circus stunt

Spectator's Video Shows Stunt That Injured Circus Performers

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - A platform collapsed during an aerial hair-hanging stunt at a circus performance Sunday, sending eight acrobats plummeting to the ground. Nine performers were seriously injured in the fall, including a dancer below, while an unknown number of others suffered less serious injuries.

The accident was reported about 45 minutes into the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus' 11 a.m. Legends show at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence.

Stephen Payne, a spokesman for Feld Entertainment, the parent company of Ringling Bros., said the accident happened during an act in which eight performers hang "like a human chandelier" using their hair.

He said the metal-frame apparatus from which the performers were hanging came free from the metal truss it was connected to. The eight women fell 25 to 40 feet, landing on a dancer on the ground.

All the performers have been doing "some variation of this act for some time," Payne said, though he didn't know how long. The current incarnation of the act began in January with the launch of the show, he said.

Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare said officials and inspectors haven't yet determined what caused the accident. He said none of the injuries appears to be life-threatening.

Roman Garcia, general manager of the Legends show, asked people to pray for the performers.

"Everybody's doing fine, everybody's at the hospital, everybody's conscious, everybody's doing pretty well," he said at the Dunkin' Donuts Center less than two hours after the accident.

Rhode Island Hospital in Providence admitted 11 patients with varying injuries, including one in critical condition, spokeswoman Jill Reuter said.

The hair-hanging stunt is described on the circus' website as a "larger-than-life act" featuring eight female performers.

"These 'hairialists' perform a combination of choreography and cut-ups including spinning, hanging from hoops, and rolling down wrapped silks, all while being suspended 35 feet in the air by their hair alone," the website says. "In this hair-raising act, audiences will even see the weight of three girls held aloft by the locks of only one of these tangled beauties."

Video taken by audience members showed a curtain coming down, and several performers hanging around 25 feet in the air from an apparatus suspended from above. Seconds later, as they began to perform, the women fell and the metal apparatus landed on them.

"It just went crashing down," said audience member Sydney Bragg, 14, of North Kingstown. "Everyone was freaking out. We heard this huge clatter and then we just heard the girls scream."

She said spotlights were on the performers at the time, but all the lights went out after the fall.

Rosa Viveiros of Seekonk, Massachusetts, said she saw that the acrobats had fallen on top of at least one other performer on the ground, a man who stood up with his face bloodied. The acrobats remained still and did not get up, she said.

"We thought it was part of the circus," said her husband, Joe.

The couple attended the circus with their 6-year-old grandson and 9-year-old niece.

"Everyone was in shock," Rosa Viveiros said. "It was pretty overwhelming to see that."

The circus began performances in Providence on Friday. The Dunkin' Donuts Center canceled two shows scheduled for later Sunday.

A Ringling Bros. aerial performer was killed in 2004 in St. Paul, Minnesota, when she was twirling 30 feet in the air on long chiffon scarves and the material gave way.

___

Associated Press writers Josh Cornfield in Philadelphia and Jessica Gresko in Washington contributed to this report.

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Chelle May 04 2014 at 10:45 PM

I cant believe some of the idiotic comments made here.. the topic is about a horrible accident where nine were hurt during their act.. and I just am shocked.. well not really some people are just ignorant.. but this had nothing to do with animals or their treatment. prayers to the performers and their families after such a tragic accident. I swear people are just some cold hearted people.. that cant even simply follow a topic at hand. smh.

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2 replies
HI BEAUTIFUL Chelle May 05 2014 at 12:54 AM

Well said, thank you.

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jen Chelle May 05 2014 at 3:48 PM

Some people just like to spread the information, if it offends you, I am sorry. But when someone stands up for something, they like to let others know about it.

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Gin May 05 2014 at 1:06 AM

WHY DO WE HAVE THIS 'NEWSY" CRAP? we can read & we can see the footage...

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1 reply
ladywolff2 Gin May 05 2014 at 2:56 AM

These "news" videos are nothing but another excuse to shove advertising clips in front of our faces. I don't know about you, but I am sick to death of ads.

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Lady Cherokee Angel May 05 2014 at 1:08 AM

AOL.com Article - Acrobats fall during Ringling Bros. circus stunt YES THERE IS A GOD..THESE ANIMALS ARE TREATED WITH DIRTY AND HARMFUL .HURTFUL TACTICS ETC. TO PUT FEAR INTO AN ANIMAL.............I LOVE IT WHEN THE ELEPHANT.S LEADER IS CRUSHED TO DEATH...ADIOS BABY.. BY THE ELEPHANT..THEY DO REMEMBER AZZHOLES....TEACH ALL OF YOUR CHILDREN ABOUT THE SUFFERING AND CRUELTY THAT IS PUT UPON THESE ANIMALS FOR A LOUSY BUCK...THE ENTERTAINERS ARE NOT THERE FOR YOUR ENJOYMENT..THEY COULD CARE LESS ABOUT THE AUDIENCE (YOU AND YOUR FAMILY ) AND THEY ARE NOT THERE TO PROVE TO YOU THAT THEY LIKE THE ANIMALS...THEY ARE USERS AND ABUSERS..THEY ONLY CARE ABOUT THEMSELVES AND ONLY CARE ABOUT WHERE THIER NEXT DOLLAR..MEAL..ETC IS GOING TO COME FROM..(THIS IS WHY THEY ARE CALLED GYPSIES) ..THANK YOU AND SINCERELY..LINDA ANTHONY..WARWICK RI USA

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3 replies
ftuna2u2 May 05 2014 at 1:11 AM

Eat meat if you want, wear leather and fur if you want, go to circuses and zoos if you want. This is, after all, a free country. If you don't want to do these things, feel free not to. This is, after all, a free country.

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1 reply
smarston@aol.com ftuna2u2 May 05 2014 at 1:57 AM

Feel free to beat your wife and kids, molest the neighbor's child and steal from your church. After all, it's a free country.

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1 reply
ccl995 smarston@aol.com May 05 2014 at 7:10 AM

Those things are illegal, going to the circus is not. You may find it immoral, but it's not illegal.

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HI BEAUTIFUL May 05 2014 at 1:12 AM

It is hard to belive all the nasty posts about animal abuse and not taking into concideration how all these people were hurt in this tragic accident. This event has nothing to do with animal abuse and sympathy and condolece should be given to these injuried people. All these cold hearted people that say this was karma need to crawl back under their cold dank rocks. Show some heart people for these people in this accident and wish them well and back to good health. Shame on all of you that say things about animal abuse, which as so many reports proved to be wrong. Not the abuse you want to believe.

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3 replies
Moo Stachio May 05 2014 at 1:56 AM

How very sad. My prayers and well wishes go out to those who were injured.

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2 replies
Moo Stachio Moo Stachio May 05 2014 at 1:59 AM

Oops, sorry about that. I wish we could delete.

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Moo Stachio Moo Stachio May 05 2014 at 2:13 AM

To explain my apology above, I accidentally posted my original comment more than once but it looks like they were automatically removed.

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fjkur113 May 05 2014 at 2:06 AM

I wish it was the animals that got hurt not the people.

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3 replies
rada197 May 05 2014 at 2:18 AM

Just a little taste of what their animals have to go through every day in their circus. Maybe I sound a bit cold but this should happen more often.

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5 replies
Liebchken May 05 2014 at 11:43 AM

Circus of idiots. Who would volunteer to hang by their hair?!! I can't even fathom the neck injuries on a good day. Stupid. Their necks will probably have permanent injuries.

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Chip May 05 2014 at 2:38 AM

May these amazing performers make a speedy and successful recovery.

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