If you've ever attended or taken your kids to a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus show, you've probably uttered the words, "Please don't fall, please don't fall" more than a few times under your breath while gripping your seat chair. The worst thing that could happen at a circus show took place in Rhode Island on Sunday afternoon: nine aerial performers attempting the "Human Chandelier" act fell 25 to 40 feet after a metal frame -- from which they were hanging by their hair -- came loose from its support and sent the women crashing to the ground. All of the women, as well as two additional circus performers, suffered major injuries, but here's the amazing part: they all survived.

This accident took place about 45 minutes into the start of the show. The popular hair-hanging act usually features women, who are called "hairialists," "spinning, hanging from hoops, and rolling down wrapped silks" while suspended about 35 feet up by just their ponytails.

Witnesses say the women dropped suddenly and fell on top of a male circus performer who was standing below them. They stayed on the ground and didn't get up, and circus organizers kept the lights off and lowered screens so audience members couldn't see them. One performer is reportedly in critical condition, though everyone involved is expected to survive.

Some stunned spectators, which included mostly children and teens, initially believed the drop was part of their performance. When they realized it wasn't, people reportedly "freaked out." And, naturally, a few viewers caught the scene on camera. If you choose to watch this video, please be aware that it contains graphic content and you may find it disturbing:

UPDATE: Investigators have determined that a clamp meant to hold the performers to the stadium's rafters failed and snapped. They are still looking into why this happened.

After this accident, would you think twice before attending the circus or taking your children to the circus?

 

Image via YouTube