5 Performers Plummet Off High Wire During Wallenda Act

Wallenda not hurt, no life-threatening injuries
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 9, 2017 1:24 PM CST
5 Performers in Wallenda Act Fall 25 Feet Off High Wire
In this June 18, 2013, file photo, high-wire performer Nik Wallenda practices in Sarasota, Fla.   (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)

A circus act in Florida that featured members of the famed Wallenda family, including extreme stuntman Nik Wallenda, went terribly wrong Wednesday when five performers in an eight-person routine fell 25 to 30 feet to the ground off a high wire, the Herald-Tribune reports. Wallenda was not one of the Circus Sarasota's injured performers, he told reporters Thursday, per the Washington Post. Wallenda's uncle tells the Tampa Bay Times that Nik's aunt and sister were among those hurt. All of the injured are expected to survive, though at least two patients were said to remain in critical condition and one in guarded condition, WFLA reports. "I'm sure they'll be back on their feet in a few months. Thank God," Pedro Reis, the CEO of Circus Arts Conservatory, says.

The stunt they were practicing for a Friday performance was the eight-person pyramid—a variation of the seven-person pyramid that killed two Wallenda family members and paralyzed one at a 1962 Detroit show. The Wallendas typically don't use safety nets in their acts, and this one was no different. So what caused the accident? Wallenda told reporters one of the performers may have passed out and lost balance, setting off a chain reaction that affected everyone on the wire. Wallenda himself didn't fall off when people in front of him started losing their balance and falling. The group had practiced the act successfully the day before. "Our hearts go out to everybody," Reis tells WFLA, adding, "The show must go on." (Read more Nik Wallenda stories.)

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