5 hurt after falling in Florida circus high wire rehearsal

Nik Wallenda, pictured here during a high wire stunt in Pittsburgh in 2009, was part of a rehearsal that went wrong in Sarasota, Fla., on Wednesday. The accident sent five performers to the hospital, at least two reportedly in critical condition. File Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI

Feb. 8 (UPI) — Several circus performers were injured in Florida Wednesday after falling during a rehearsal of a high wire act, officials said.

Five people were hurt in the mishap at Circus Sarasota while practicing an eight-person pyramid on the wire for a show set to open Friday.

The performers fell about 25 feet to the ground, officials said. At least two of those injured were reported in critical condition. The circus said the rest will probably need a few months to fully recover.

“Accidents do happen, as we know,” Pedro Reis, co-founder and CEO of The Circus Arts Conservatory, said. “Circus artists, sometimes we compare ourselves to NASCAR drivers, Formula One drivers, we push the limit.”

Famous tightrope-walker Nik Wallenda was on the high wire at the time of the mishap, but he did not fall.

“Nik was at the rear of the pyramid, and he did not fall off the wire,” Reis said. “He was the anchor at the back of the pyramid.”

Wallenda, part of a famous tightrope-walking family, gained worldwide attention in 2013 when he crossed the Grand Canyon on a high wire.

“We will go to Plan B, obviously, and come up with a finish [for the show],” Reis added. “The circus is resilient. The circus people are resilient. And the show must go on.”


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