Cirque du Soleil fined in death of acrobat at Las Vegas show

Reuters

By Laila Kearney

Oct 30 (Reuters) - Cirque du Soleil has been fined more than$25,000 for safety violations in connection with a fatalaccident in which an acrobat dropped 94 feet to her death duringa mid-air battle scene during the show "KA" in Las Vegas inJune, Nevada officials said on Wednesday.

Concluding a four-month investigation into the fatal fall ofParis native Sarah Guillot-Guyard, the Nevada OccupationalSafety and Health Administration issued six citations, totaling$25,235, to Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil, which describes itsshows as "a dramtic mix of circus arts and streetentertainment."

Guillot-Guyard died after falling in the final scene of theperformance, in which the stage is vertical and performersengage in mid-air battle while wearing safety harnesses attachedto a cable.

The 31-year-old performer had been in the midst of the scenewhen she began to quickly ascend as part the act, Nevada OSHAsaid. As she moved upward, the wire rope attaching her to asafety harness scraped against suspension equipment and wasdetached.

"The wire rope was severed due to the rapid ascent of theperformer, ultimately causing the rope to be freed from thesheave/pulley and scraping against a shear point," the agencysaid.

Cirque du Soleil was fined for violations includinginadequate equipment training for Guillot-Guyard, and a circusfall protection program that did not match state safetystandards, Nevada OSHA said.

Nevada OSHA also penalized the Las Vegas MGM Grand, wherethe show was performed, $7,000 for exposing its employees toworkplace hazards, including onstage open-sided floors andpyrotechnic dust used for Cirque du Soleil performances.

Both Cirque du Soleil and MGM Resorts, the owner ofthe Las Vegas MGM Grand, said in separate statements that theywould appeal the rulings.

Cirque spokesman Renée-Claude Menard said in a statementthat the company had completed an exhaustive review of itssafety policies and procedures after the accident.

"Safety always has been the top priority for Cirque duSoleil, its performers and crew members," Menard said.

Alan Feldman, executive vice president of MGM Resorts, saidin a statement that safety was a top priority for his company aswell.

The companies have 15 days from the time they were notifiedof the citations to appeal the rulings with OSHA staff or itsboard, Nevada OSHA spokeswoman Teri Williams said on Wednesday.Williams said the groups were given notice sometime last week.

Guillot-Guyard, a mother of two young children, had beenpart of the cast of "KA" since 2006. She was the first performerto die during a show in Cirque du Soleil's 29-year history, aCirque spokesman said shortly after the accident.

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