Nine circus performers injured in acrobatics accident

Nine circus performers were seriously injured when a platform collapsed mid-stunt during a live Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus' Legends show at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence. 

Tara Griggs/AP Photo
In a cell phone photo provided by Tara Griggs, emergency workers tend to injured performers after a platform collapsed, Sunday, during the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus' Legends show at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence, R.I. At least nine people were injured in the fall, including a dancer below.

A platform collapsed during an aerial hair-hanging stunt at a circus performance Sunday, sending eight entertainers plummeting to the ground. Nine were seriously injured in the fall, including a dancer below.

The accident was reported at about 11:45 a.m. during the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus' Legends show at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence.

Stephen Payne, a spokesman for Feld Entertainment, the parent company of Ringling Bros., said eight of the injured acrobats fell up to 40 feet (12 meters).

Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare said officials and inspectors haven't yet determined what caused the accident. He said none of the injuries appears to be life-threatening.

Roman Garcia, general manager of the show, said the accident occurred during the "hair hang" act in which the performers hang from their hair.

Sydney Bragg, 14, of North Kingstown, said the collapse happened about 90 minutes into the show. She said the platform began to fall as it neared the rafters of the arena. At first, she said, she thought it was part of the act.

"It just went crashing down," Sydney said. "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.

Rosa Viveiros of Massachusetts said the act was covered by a curtain. Shortly after the curtain was pulled away, she said, the performers fell on top of at least one other performer below, a man who stood up with his face bloodied.

The Dunkin' Donuts Center said two shows scheduled for later Sunday and two others Monday are on hold.

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