Five circus performers were injured after falling from an eight-person pyramid in a high-wire accident at a Florida circus, a circus official said.
Jennifer Mitchell, Managing Director at the Circus Arts Conservatory, told reporters this evening that no injuries were life threatening and that everyone would make a full recovery. A hospital official said earlier today that two people were in critical condition with life-threatening injuries but that everyone, including those in critical condition, is expected to survive.
The hospital official added that the performers are extremely lucky to have survived given the height they fell from. The performers were approximately 20 to 25 feet above the ground, said Pedro Reis, founder of the Circus Arts Conservatory.
“Our hearts go out to the families,” he said.
The eight-person pyramid was something special they had been rehearsing for Circus Sarasota, Reis said at a news conference this afternoon, adding that the performers executed it “flawlessly” on Tuesday.
Mitchell said the fall was not a rigging or equipment failure, saying, “accidents do happen.”
At the time of the accident the team at Circus Sarasota was rehearsing for a show that is set to open Feb. 10. A net wasn’t used in this trick which Mitchell said was common practice. Famous high-wire artist Nik Wallenda was one of the performers involved in the eight-person pyramid but he was not injured, his manager, Winston Simone, said.
“He is currently at the hospital with others who have sustained injuries,” Simone said. “He says he expects everybody involved to be fine.”
The performers had been practicing this trick at least twice a day since Dec. 26, Simone added. The eight-person pyramid was going to be the grand finale of the winter production opening on Feb. 10, Mitchell said, adding that the show will open Friday as scheduled.
Reis said today that “circus people are resilient,” adding, “the show must go on.”
Alec Bryant, 21, one of the performers sent to the hospital, told ABC News this afternoon that he expected to be released from the hospital shortly. Bryant said they had successfully completed the eight-person pyramid hundreds of times.