Five performers fell from the wire during a practice run of the eight-person pyramid — the show’s grand finale.
A practice performance of Circus Sarasota’s winter show near The Mall at University Town Center ended in tragedy today, as five aerialists were hospitalized after a fall from the highwire.
The performers were practicing the show’s finale — an eight-person pyramid — before falling 25 feet. “King of the Highwire” Nik Wallenda, who was serving as the anchor in the back of the formation, did not fall and was not injured during the incident.
Four of those injured are classified as trauma victims and were transported to trauma facilities, according to Sarasota County Fire Chief Michael Regnier. The fifth injured performer was transported to Lakewood Ranch Medical Center.
Officials said rigging for the performance was solid, and the fall was a result of lost balance.
“They did it flawlessly yesterday,” Circus Arts Conservatory co-founder Pedro Reis said during a press briefing.
Reis called the accident “tragic,” but said circus entertainers are resilient.
“I'm sure they'll be back on their feet in a few months,” he said.
“Accidents do happen as we do know,” Reis added. “Circus artists sometimes compare ourselves to NASCAR drivers — Formula 1 drivers — who push themselves to the limit.”
Reis said the show will still open Feb. 10 with a replaced final act.
This is a developing story and more information will be added as it becomes available.