High wire performers take a fall in Sarasota with 5 hospitalized

The high wire performers were injured during practice for a Friday show

Five performers were injured Wednesday after tumbling from a high-wire act during a circus practice in Sarasota, Florida, officials said.
One performer is listed as a trauma alert, according to a tweet from the Sarasota County government.

The incident occurred as eight performers practiced on the high wire for Circus Sarasota’s Friday show. One performer lost balance, according to Pedro Reis, founder and CEO of the Circus Arts Conservatory.

The five performers fell 25 to 30 feet, said Drew Winchester with Sarasota Fire Rescue.

Rios said the rigging did not collapse. It was not clear whether was a safety net in place.

Well-known daredevil Nik Wallenda was among three performers on the wire who were not injured, Reis said.

Wallenda wowed audiences when he crossed tightropes over landmarks like the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls and the downtown Chicago skyline.

The group was practicing a pyramid trick inside the tent at the University Town Center in Sarasota, Circus Arts Conservatory co-founder Pedro Reis said. The Bradenton Herald initially reported the high wire collapsed, citing Manatee County Public Safety, but Reis said that was not the case.

“We had a terrible accident,” he told reporters. He predicted it could take months for the injured performers to recover. They suffered orthopedic and pelvic injuries, according to hospital workers.

Daredevil performer Nik Wallenda waves during a news conference after he walked untethered along the rim of the Orlando Eye, the city’s new, 400-foot observation wheel, Wednesday, April 29, 2015, in Orlando, Fla. The walk is being done in advance of next month’s public opening of the attraction.

Reis defended his circus performers, saying they “push the limit” like NASCAR or Formula One racers.

The show, entitled “Synergy,” was scheduled to have its first performance this Friday. Reis said the circus had a Plan B in place, adding, “The show must go on.”

The show advertised itself as featuring “an impressive array of international circus stars.” It was scheduled to run through March 5.

Nik Wallenda made headlines in recent years with daring tightrope walks at landmarks including Niagara Falls and two Chicago skyscrapers.

Quotes in this story are from ASSOCIATED PRESS



Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved s and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.