UPDATE: 9 Aerial Performers Drop 25 to 40 Feet During Circus Act (VIDEO)

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

accidents, in the news, human rights


To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

fave82 fave82

I wouldn't take them to the circus becuase I don't approve of the use of animals in performances. I would, however, take them to Cirque du Soleil.

nonmember avatar lilah

I realize that performers are putting their bodies through a lot, but getting hung by their hair seems barbaric without the unintended freefall.

youth... youthfulsoul

I've always wondered why they don't use safety nets. It's not any more impressive that they don't. Especially because no one wants to see something terrible happen at a circus. 

cmjaz cmjaz

true, youyhful

mnewm... mnewman425

I have 3 children ( ages 20, 17 and 14) and not a one of them have ever been to a circus. I would never take my children to the circus, nor would they ever ask to go to one.  I have educated them about the abuse that animals in circuses are subjected to.  We would; however, attend a protest of a circus (and no we are not with PETA or any other such organization).  This incident is unfortunate and I hope that they all recover and heal from their injuries.  I do hope that this incident shuts down the Ringling Bros though...

alexs... alexsmomma06

All three of my children have attended circuses and we will continue to do so.

nonmember avatar Cyndi

We intend to take our 4 year old to the circus on Sat. I pray they have a speedy recovery.

Railr... RailroadGirl

All 3 of my children have attended The Shiners circus and just went 2 weeks ago also. I would still a circus.

holly... hollywood222222

Considering the rampant animal abuse that goes on at each circus(yes, even your beloved big name circuses), it's barbaric to endorse such gatherings. Shame on you if you are still taking your kids to these outdated shows, where the lives of animals are sacrificed for your viewing pleasure.

nonmember avatar Emma

Wow what a horrible event for parents and their children to watch I hope the performers are all well.

1-10 of 18 comments 12 Last