Thursday, May 8, 2014
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus opened in Hartford on Thursday, four days after an acrobatic stunt went awry, injuring nine performers and abruptly halting the circus in Providence, Rhode Island.
While seven of the acrobats injured while performing in a hair-hanging stunt remain in the hospital, including at least two in serious condition, the circus was scheduled to perform eight shows in Hartford through Sunday.
"I'm pleased to report that our performers are continuing to improve," circus spokesman Stephen Payne said at a news conference Thursday.
The condition of two of the acrobats has been upgraded to fair and two others remain in serious condition. Three others have asked that their medical conditions not be made public. One of the injured acrobats was released from the hospital Tuesday.
Federal health and safety inspectors and circus officials have not identified a "definitive cause" for the aerial accident that sent eight acrobats plummeting to the ground, Payne said. A clip at the top of the apparatus snapped, dropping the acrobats about 20 feet to the ground.
The "human chandelier" stunt, in which performers hang by their hair from a suspended apparatus, won't be performed in Hartford and will not be replaced "at this time," said Nicole Feld, executive vice president of Feld Entertainment.
"We'll look and see how the recovery process goes," she said.
As the circus officials spoke, lionesses, tigers and a leopard could be heard roaring and growling in an area behind a curtain.
A rehearsal will "smooth the transitions" between acts to make sure the show runs smoothly without the hair-hanging act, Feld said.
The medical team treating the acrobats said Wednesday that two have spinal cord injuries and it's not known if they'll walk again.
The performers are covered by Ringling Bros.' insurance and the circus and the Feld family are doing everything to make sure that performers are taken care of "and that their families are taken care of in this critical time for them," Payne said.
Asked if a net might be used in the future, Payne said that because the act went up and down, "We're not entirely sure a net would have really added any safety feature," he said.
Circus ringmaster Jonathan Lee Iverson said first responders in Providence "may have saved a life or two."
Payne said the margin for safety for the performance was satisfactory. "We feel that our safety standards are impeccable," he said.