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Aerial performers were injured at the Barnum and Bailey Circus in Providence on May 4. / @jdubbsnk


At least nine performers were seriously injured Sunday during a high-wire circus act in Providence and three remain in critical condition this morning.

Stephen Payne, a spokesman for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus, said aerialists were performing when a metal-frame they were hanging from tore loose from a metal truss. Eight women fell 25 to 40 feet, landing on a dancer on the ground. The show at Dunkin' Donuts Center was canceled, as was a show scheduled for 3 p.m.

"Clearly something went very wrong with this apparatus," Payne said, adding that the fate of future shows would be determined by an investigation that the circus had begun. "The safety of our performers is the No. 1 priority."

Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare said none of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening. He said it was unclear exactly what happened. Local authorities were investigating, he said.

The accident was witnessed by an audience of about 3,900, many of them children. Video of the accident was posted on YouTube.

The New England Cable News, citing city fire officials, said the chain of events may have begun when a high wire snapped.

The Providence Journal said several additional people may have been less seriously injured in the accident shortly before noon.

Rhode Island Hospital says performers Dayana Costa, Julissa Segrera and Stefany Neves were in critical condition this morning. Viktoriya Medeiros and Viktorila Liakhova were listed in serious condition, while Samantha Pitard, Svitlana Balanicheva and Widny Nevas were listed in good condition.

The names and conditions of three others injured in the accident have not been released.

Roman Garcia, general manager of the Legends show, asked people to pray for the performers.

Video taken by audience members shows a curtain dropping to reveal several performers hanging from an apparatus suspended from above. Seconds later, as they begin to perform, the women fall, and the metal apparatus lands on them.

"It just went crashing down," said audience member Sydney Bragg, 14, of North Kingstown. "Everyone was freaking out. We heard this huge clatter and then we just heard the girls scream."

She said spotlights were on the performers at the time, but all the lights went out after the fall.

Othello Smith told the Journal that his family left the building shortly after the accident - before the show was canceled - because they didn't want their young children watching the aftermath.

"They just dropped," he said. "It happened so fast you didn't really believe it happened."

Contributing: Associated Press



Copyright 2014USA TODAY

Read the original story: 9 seriously hurt in high-wire act at R.I. circus

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