At least five have been hurt after a rehearsal for a circus performance went awry in Florida, Wednesday. A group working with tightrope walker and daredevil Nik Wallenda had been practicing a human pyramid on a tightrope. They lost their balance and fell some 25 feet above the ground.
They were practicing the stunt inside the tent at the University Town Center. Circus Arts Conservatory co-founder Pedro Reis confirmed that the accident was not due to any rigging problems.
Five of the performers, both men and women, were quickly rushed to nearby hospitals in the Sarasota area. According to a story by Fox, hospital workers said that they had suffered orthopedic and pelvic injuries. Reis predicted it may take months for their recovery from the “terrible accident”.
The Show Must Go On
There was initially a scare that Nik Wallenda had been part of the fall. However, it’s been confirmed that he’s safe and unharmed. The attempt was going to be for one of the highest eight-person pyramids ever attempted; Wallenda had been toward the back of the pyramid, acting as the “anchor”, as per NBC. Apparently, the group had already been able to perform the trick the day before without a hitch.
Over the years, Nik Wallenda has developed a reputation for his high-flying, death-defying stunts. He’s a Guinness World Record holder: the highest bicycle tightrope crossing and highest blindfolded tightrope walk are under his name. He also made a name for himself by tightrope walking at the greatest height across the Grand Canyon. Wallenda has conquered Niagara Falls as well, being the first tightrope walker to cross it at 1,800 feet.
Tightrope walking and such stunts are in his blood. The Flying Wallendas have been at it for generations. That’s why one must wonder, during accidents like this, if it’s time to put a stop to the acts. It’s not unheard of for members of his family to fail at their stunts, with fatal consequences: his great grandfather Karl Wallenda fell to his death attempting a tightrope walk in Puerto Rico, in 1978.
Is it time to stop, now that others are getting involved and the dangers are manifesting more than ever? “Nik is feeling a lot of pain… emotional pain,” Reis said, but clarified, “The circus people are resilient. The show must go on.”
An Impressive Array
The show, called Synergy, is presenting itself as “an impressive array of international stars”. Nik Wallenda highlights the show. In response to the tragedy that occurred during rehearsals, Circus Sarasota will be going to a backup plan, and coming up with a new finish to the stunt. The show opens on Feb. 10.