Yann Arnaud, a Cirque du Soleil aerialist, plummeted to his death Saturday night during a show in Tampa, Florida. The Montreal-based entertainment group said Arnaud, 38, fell more than three meters to the stage while performing an aerial straps number during the company’s “Volta” show. After the fall, he was reportedly taken to a hospital where he later died from his injuries.
Daniel Lamarre, president and CEO of Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group, praised the acumen of the performer, who according to him was one of the most experienced artists in the troupe and an enthralling performer who was with the group for 15 years. Arnaud, who is from France, is survived by his wife and two daughters.
In a statement on Twitter, the group mourned the loss of the talented artist. Distraught over the loss, Lamarre said, “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.”
“The entire Cirque du Soleil family is in shock and devastated by this tragedy,” he added.
NBC reported that a statement by the police said Arnaud was on the double rings when his hands slipped and he fell to his death. It was not clear whether the accident occurred due to equipment failure. However, Lamarre said the group was assessing the situation and collaborating with the police and will soon have more information on the tragic incident.
Arnaud was just one of the few casualties of the group, which in over a couple of years, had a spate of accidents involving its performers, CBC News reported.
Last year, a show in Gatineau in Quebec, Canada, was stopped temporarily when a performer fell from a set piece and injured his head and back. Medical specialists were rushed in following the accident.
In 2016, three other employees were injured and one of them succumbed to his injuries later. Olivier Rochette, 42, who was the son of the Cirque du Soleil founder, died in San Francisco after being hit in the head by an aerial lift. The incident came merely days after Lisa Skinner, Australian acrobat and Olympic gymnast, fractured a vertebra when she fell three meters while performing as part of the “Kooza” show in Brisbane, Australia.
Perturbed over the frequency of accidents, Lamarre said at the time that it was the first time in more than a decade he had seen this happen in the show.
“We have outside experts looking into [the accidents], we have our own safety department, a permanent department at Cirque du Soleil that is also looking into them, and we will do everything we do to continue to protect the security of our employees,” he said in a statement.
The remaining two “Volta” shows scheduled in Tampa were canceled by the group as investigations into Arnaud’s death ensues.