TAMPA, Fla. — A Cirque du Soleil performer who fell during a performance Saturday night in Tampa has died, a Tampa General Hospital spokeswoman said.
The acrobat who died has been identified as Yann Arnaud, according to a statement released by Cirque de Soleil's Volta.
"It is with immense sadness that Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group reports that a tragic accident occurred last night, March 17, during a performance of its show VOLTA, in Tampa, Florida," the statement began.
Arnaud, a longtime aerialist, was performing "the aerial straps number" when he fell onto the stage, according to the Cirque du Soleil statement. First responders moved in quickly to administer medical aid.
"They were doing a dance routine on stage and they had these streamers coming down from the roof,” said Ben Maldonado, who was sitting in the audience during the second act. “One of the guys lost his grip and fell from the streamer down to the floor. The other performers, everybody just stopped on stage and were just pretty much in shock like we were."
The video used in this story showing the incident was posted to YouTube but has since been taken down because Cirque Du Soleil claims copyright infringement.
Arnaud was taken to Tampa General Hospital, where a hospital spokesperson confirmed he died of his injuries.
"The entire Cirque du Soleil family is in shock and devastated by this tragedy. Yann had been with us for over 15 years and was loved by all who had the chance to know him. Over the coming days and weeks, our focus will be on supporting Yann's family and our employees, especially the VOLTA team, as we go through these difficult times together," said Daniel Lamarre, President and CEO of Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group.
Cirque du Soleil officials are gathering more information the event, the statement said.
"We are offering our full and transparent collaboration to the authorities as they look into the circumstances of this accident," the statement added.
We looked into the safety of Cirque Du Soleil and we found 5 inspection reports listed by OSHA. Documents indicate two deaths occurred in Las Vegas: a carpenter who hit his head while doing work on stage and a performer who fell after her harness malfunctioned.
The last two shows of Volta scheduled for Sunday were canceled. All purchases through Cirque du Soleil website or call center will be automatically refunded on the credit card used for the original purchase.
Claire Moss and her family showed up unaware of the cancellations.
"To hear someone's died, that's just awful. Really, really awful,” she said.
People on social media have been posting about the show and what they saw. Many offering well wishes for him to recover. Maldonado is saddened to hear Arnaud didn't make it.
"God man, those guys are amazing and you know I was hoping that he would come back and that kind of thing but, it's a dangerous show apparently,” he said.
For tickets purchased through one of its partners, customers should contact the original point of sale for a refund.
For customer's service inquiries, visit www.cirquedusoleil.com/volta or call (877) 924-7783.