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Cirque du Soleil performer dies after ‘tragic accident’ at Florida show

Cirque du Soleil performer dies after ‘tragic accident’ at Florida show
A Cirque du Soleil performer has died after falling during an aerial performance in Tampa, Florida. The company called the death a “tragic accident.”

Veteran aerialist Yann Arnaud fell 4.5 meters (15ft) from an aerial strap Saturday night. Speaking to RT.com, a spokesperson for production confirmed “with immense sadness” that Arnaud passed away at a local hospital. Footage of the incident was recorded and posted online over the weekend.

"The entire Cirque du Soleil family is in shock and devastated by this tragedy,” said President and CEO Daniel Lamarre. “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."

The company are offering their "full and transparent collaboration" as authorities investigate the circumstances surrounding the death, the statement read.

In the unsettling footage, the performer is seen hanging from an aerial strap and swinging over the audience before plummeting to the stage. The crowd can be heard gasping as the 15-year veteran hits the stage on his side. He then lies motionless before crew members rush to his aid just seconds later.

A Cirque du Soleil spokesperson confirmed the incident following the show but did not comment on the severity of the performer’s injuries. The acrobatic show, known as Volta, has been in Tampa since February. The production had only two shows left in the city. Both have now been cancelled.

One of the aerial straps artists of VOLTA by Cirque du Soleil fell during his performance on stage in Tampa. The artist was immediately carried out of stage to receive assistance,” the statement released following the incident read.

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The spokesperson added that they were working to give audience members a refund for their tickets. "In order for the VOLTA team to focus on the health of the artist, the rest of the show has been canceled,” the statement continued. “We will stay in contact with the members of the audience who had purchased tickets for the show.”

This isn’t the first death to marr the international show’s reputation. In October 2013, veteran acrobat Sarah Guyard-Guillot fell 28 meters (94ft) to her death at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Hers was the first onstage fatality in Cirque du Soleil's history.

In November 2016, former Olympian Lisa Skinner was injured when she lost her grip during a solo aerial hoop act and fell about 5 meters (16ft) to the floor in Brisbane, Australia. She suffered a fractured neck and a broken arm in the incident.