A Cirque du Soleil performer died Saturday night after he fell during a performance in Tampa, Florida.
The Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group said in a statement that Yann Arnaud, an aerialist, was performing during the company’s show “VOLTA” when he plummeted to the stage. Arnaud received medical attention and was taken to a nearby hospital, where he later died.
“The entire Cirque du Soleil family is in shock and devastated by this tragedy,” said Daniel Lamarre, president and CEO of the entertainment company, in the statement. “Yann had been with us for over 15 years and was loved by all who had the chance to know him.”
The company is prepared to give its “full and transparent collaboration to authorities” as they investigate the incident, the statement added. The last two performances of “VOLTA,” set to take place in Tampa on Sunday, were canceled.
Julien Martinez was in the audience Saturday night and told CNN affiliate WFLA that he witnessed the accident. Before Arnaud fell, Martinez noticed the performer “straining to hold onto the rope.”
“It was awful,” he said of the fall. “You heard all the cries of the audience. There were children there and they were freaking out.”
“It kinds of colors our opinions of what is going on behind the scenes,” Martinez said. “What is the cost of our entertainment at that point?”
This isn’t the first tragedy to strike one of Cirque du Soleil’s performers. In June 2013, 31-year-old acrobat and aerialist Sarah Guillot-Guyard died after a fall during a show at a Las Vegas casino.
The Nevada Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited Cirque du Soleil and the casino for violations, and both faced thousands of dollars in fines. Cirque du Soleil eventually settled with OSHA, bringing six citations to one, the Las Vegas Sun reported.