Officials Believe Clamp is to Blame for Providence, RI Circus Accident

After completing an initial investigation, officials believe a clamp that was holding a structure by which eight women were dangling by their hair failed, plunging the performers to the floor 40 feet below and crushing a dancer who was positioned underneath. The frightening accident occurred at yesterdays’ Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus’ Legends show in Providence, RI. Nine performers suffered very serious injuries ranging from compound fractures to skull and back injuries.

The acrobats were performing their “Human Chandelier” stunt in which eight dancers hang from a metal structured 40 feet in the air by just their hair. The accident happened right at the beginning of the stunt, just after the curtain was let down, revealing the women dangling in position. Video from the scene shows the heavy metal structure simply drop to the floor below with an audible bang, crushing a dancer who was performing below.

Approximately 4,000 patrons were in the audience, many of them children and families. Witnesses called the scene “disturbing” and upsetting for their children. The spotlights were pointed on the performers during the incident, but the stage but quickly went dark to protect viewers from what was a gruesome scene. It seemed like hours before first responders were able to lift the fallen structure off of the acrobats and rush them to area hospitals. Though the injuries were extensive, and three victims are listed in critical conditional, the Associated Press reports that there were no life-threatening injuries.

Investigators are now focusing on a broken clamp that was used to hold the hanging structure to the rafters at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. They believe the clamp snapped off and sent the dancers to the ground dozens of feet below. WCVB reports that, “investigators from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration were leading the investigation, with assistance from local authorities. [Feld Entertainment spokesperson Stephen] Payne said the company also was investigating.”

One injured performer’s father, who runs a circus academy in their native Brazil explained that, “In this profession, you run the risk of being injured. It’s like being a race car driver or a gymnast. There’s always the risk.” While there is a certain element of risk associated with a circus acrobat’s job, there is risk in any profession. Faulty equipment causes thousands of injuries and fatalities every year, and it is completely preventable.

Experiencing any type of severe workplace injury-whether it takes place in the circus or in the office-can have a lasting and even permanent effect on a victim’s life. If you or someone you love have suffered an injury in the workplace, call Altman & Altman to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced Massachusetts Worker Compensation Lawyers for a free initial consultation. For nearly 50 years we have been helping injured workers receive the compensation that they deserve form their employers. Our dedicated attorneys have successfully fought for compensation benefits, lost wages, medical expenses, and compensation for emotional pain and suffering. No matter how large or small the employer is, we want to help. Our attorneys are available around the clock to assist you through each and every part of your case and to answer any and all of your questions.

Read more about the accident here.

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