A Cirque du Soleil performer has died after falling during a performance in Tampa, Florida, on Saturday, March 17.
Aerialist Yann Arnaud fell onto the stage while performing the aerial straps routine, said Cirque du Soleil in a statement posted to its social media accounts.
“It is with immense sadness that Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group reports that a tragic accident occurred last night, March 17, during a performance of its show ‘Volta,’ in Tampa, Florida,” the statement said.
Arnaud was taken to hospital where he later died from his injuries.
The acrobat had been performing with the company for 15 years.
“The entire Cirque du Soleil family is in shock and devastated by this tragedy,” said a statement from Cirque’s president and CEO, Daniel Lamarre. “Yann had been with us for over 15 years and was loved by all who had the chance to know him. Over the coming days and weeks, our focus will be on supporting Yann’s family and our employees, especially the ‘Volta’ team, as we go through these difficult times together.”
— Cirque du Soleil (@Cirque) March 18, 2018
An audience member that night, Julian Martinez, told WFLA that he noticed Arnaud was “straining to hold onto the rope” before the fall.
“It was awful,” Martinez said of the fall. “You heard all the cries of the audience. There were children there and they were freaking out.”
The company says it is currently “gathering more information” about the incident and will cooperate with authorities.
The last two shows scheduled in Tampa on Sunday, 18 March, were also canceled.
This isn’t the first time a Cirque du Soleil performer has been killed in an on-stage accident. In June 2013, 31-year-old aerialist Sarah Guillot-Guyard died after a fall during a show at a Las Vegas casino.