A platform collapsed during an aerial stunt that was part of a circus performance in Rhode Island Sunday, sending eight acrobats tumbling 25 to 40 feet and injuring a dancer who was on the ground. A total of 15 to 20 performers were injured in the accident and nine were in critical condition, although none appear to have life-threatening injuries, reports the Providence Journal. The performers fell when the prop that holds performers by their hair apparently failed, reports CNN. A video posted on YouTube by an audience member shows how a curtain was removed to reveal the performers hanging from a large object. Right when the announcer said the performers were “suspended only by the …” the large apparatus holding them all together crashed to the ground. “Oh shit,” the announcer can be heard saying.
“Everybody’s conscious. Everybody’s doing well,” said Roman Garcia, general manager of Ringling’s Legends tour. “We ask everybody to pray for the girls.”
This is how the Ringling Bros. describes the “larger-than-life act” known as the “hair hang” that “features not two, but eight female performers” from around the world:
These ‘hairialists’ perform a combination of choreography and cut-ups including spinning, hanging from hoops, and rolling down wrapped silks, all while being suspended 35 feet in the air by their hair alone! In this hair-raising act, audiences will even see the weight of three girls held aloft by the locks of only one of these tangled beauties.
A witness says the lights went out immediately after the fall. "Their necks went forward—it was awful," an audience member said, according to ABC News. “They kept the lights off so no children could see. When the lights went on, we could see them lying there. They started lowering the screens to cover it up.” Another witness tells the Providence Journal he and his family left shortly after the accident because they didn’t want their children to see the aftermath. “One of the performers was crying,” he said. “It looked pretty bad.”
TODAY IN SLATE
Slate Plus Early Read: The Self-Made Man
The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.
Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.
Mitt Romney May Be Weighing a 2016 Run. That Would Be a Big Mistake.
Amazing Photos From Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution
Transparent Is the Fall’s Only Great New Show
Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada
Now, journalists can't even say her name.
Lena Dunham, the Book
More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.