An investigation is underway after a Cirque du Soleil acrobat plunged to his death in front of a shocked audience while performing a routine for the first time on stage in Florida.
In horrifying footage shared online, seasoned performer Yann Arnaud lost his grip as he swung high above the stage during a show in the US.
The 38-year-old was taken to hospital near Tampa but later succumbed to his injuries.
“We were very surprised, considering his experience, that something like that happened,” company president Daniel Lamarre told Reuters. “I cannot describe to you how the people feel. It’s terrible.”
The accident, which marks the company’s third death in 34 years, is now being investigated.
Arnaud, who is the father two young children, had posted excitedly about getting to debut his “straps duo act” with aerial lamp artist Pawel Walczewski just hours prior to the accident.
“After so much work and training and staging, our straps duo act is finally in the show tonight,” he wrote on Instagram. “It’s time to go for it.”
Arnaud had been part of Cirque du Soleil for more than 15 years and his death has rocked the company, which cancelled its subsequent Tampa shows. Footage of the fall has since found its way online and shows that Arnaud appeared to lose his grip before falling from a significant height.
A statement from Mr Lamarre said : “The entire Cirque du Soleil family is in shock and devastated by this tragedy.
“Yann… 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.”
Arnaud in only the second performer to die during a Cirque du Soleil show, following on from Sarah Guyard-Guillot, a French acrobat who fell to her death in Las Vegas back in 2013.