Nine acrobats injured during R.I. circus performance

Emergency workers tended to injured performers after a platform collapsed during a circus performance in Providence.
tara griggs/AP
Emergency workers tended to injured performers after a platform collapsed during a circus performance in Providence.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — 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.

Warning: Video below may be disturbing to some

Stephen Payne, a spokesman for Feld Entertainment, the parent company of Ringling Bros., said eight of the injured acrobats fell 25 to 40 feet.


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.

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

Allison Katz, of Walpole, who was at the show with her 5-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter, said the incident happened about a half hour into the show. “It was awful,” she said, “They were about to start the stunt and the whole thing just dropped – the piece they were attached to dropped onto them, and it looked heavy.”

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.

Here is a collection of scenes from the accident:

Rosa Viveiros of Seekonk, Mass., 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.


Globe correspondent Anne Steele and Associated Press writer Josh Cornfield contributed to this report.