A Cirque du Soleil performer has died after falling onto a stage at a weekend show in Florida.
Yann Arnaud, 38, had been performing in Cirque shows for 15 years and was one of the company’s most experienced entertainers, according to president and chief executive Daniel Lamarre.
Mr Arnaud, who was French and married with two young children, fell during an aerial straps routine during Saturday’s performance of the show VOLTA.
According to local media reports, Mr Arnaud appeared to lose his grip on a strap before he fell, bringing the show to a halt.
He died at a nearby hospital.
Speaking from Tampa, having travelled to be with the show’s cast, Mr Lamarre said: “We were very surprised, considering his experience, that something like that happened.
“I cannot describe to you how the people feel.
Julian Martinez, who witnessed the accident, told local TV station WFLA: “It was awful.
“You heard all the cries of the audience.
“There were children there and they were freaking out.”
Mr Lamarre said the routine was seen as relatively safe but Mr Arnaud’s death is the third involving a Cirque performer in the company’s 34 years.
In 2013, French acrobat Sarah Guillot-Guyard, 31, died after falling around 15 metres as she was being hoisted up toward the roof of the stage during a Las Vegas show.
In 2009, Ukrainian acrobat Olexandre Jourov, 24, died from a fall during a rehearsal in Montreal.
Speaking on Mr Arnaud’s death, the company said in a statement: “We are offering our full and transparent collaboration to the authorities as they look into the circumstances of this accident.”
The last two shows in Tampa, planned for Sunday, were cancelled.
The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating Mr Arnaud’s death.