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9 acrobats seriously injured in circus fall

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Nine acrobats were seriously injured Sunday, falling 25 to 40 feet from an aerial platform during a circus performance, a safety official said.

The accident happened at around 11:45 a.m. during the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus’ Legends show at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence.

Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare said officials and inspectors haven’t yet determined what caused the accident.

He says, “Obviously, something went wrong.”

Roman Garcia, general manager of the show, said the accident occurred during the “hair hang” act, where performers hang from their hair. He said all of the injured acrobats are conscious.

Sydney Bragg, 14, of North Kingstown, said the collapse happened about 90 minutes into the show. She said the platform began to fall as it neared the rafters of the arena. At first, she said, she thought it was part of the act.

“It just went crashing down,” Sydney said. “Everyone was freaking out. We heard this huge clatter and then we just heard the girls scream.”

She said spotlights were on the performers at the time, but all the lights went out after the fall.

The Dunkin’ Donuts Center said two shows scheduled for later Sunday and two others Monday are on hold.

Othello Smith told the Providence Journal that the performers were doing an aerial act, spinning on ropes or cables, when they dropped.

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