“It is with immense sadness that Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group reports that a tragic accident occurred last night, March 17, during a performance of its show Volta, in Tampa, Florida,” Cirque du Soleil wrote in an official statement about the incident on Twitter.
Describing the accident, Cirque du Soleil wrote that Yann Arnaud, an aerialist who had worked with the company for over 15 years, fell to the stage while performing an “aerial straps number.”
The Tampa Bay Times reported that the incident occurred around 10:00 p.m. after Arnaud “lost control of his grip” on the aerial straps, falling “a dozen or so feet to the stage,” according to a video obtained by the newspaper.
After the performer’s fall, Arnaud was immediately “transported to the nearest hospital, where he later passed away from his injuries,” Cirque Du Soleil continued in their statement.
“The entire Cirque du Soleil family is in shock and devastated by this tragedy,” wrote Daniel Lamarre, President and CEO of Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group in the company’s official statement.
“Yann had been with us for over 15 years and was loved by all who had the chance to know him. Over the coming days and weeks, our focus will be on supporting Yann’s family and our employees, especially the Volta team, as we go through these difficult times together,” he added.
Cirque du Soleil added that the company will be offering its “full and transparent collaboration to the authorities as they look into the circumstances of this accident.”
In an interview with Florida’s WFLA, an audience member said Arnaud was “visibly straining to hold onto the rope.”
Julian Martinez told the outlet, “I saw the two acrobats exchanging glances beforehand and I don’t know if one was trying to see if the other was okay.”
He added to WFLA of the aftermath of Arnaud’s fall, “It was awful, you heard all the cries of the audience. There were children there and they were freaking out.”
Cirque Du Soleil stated that two performances of Volta that had been scheduled to take place in Tampa on Sunday have been cancelled.