A Cirque du Soleil acrobat died Saturday evening in Las Vegas during the final scene of its production KÀ.
Sarah (Sassoon) Guillot-Guyard, a 31-year-old mother of two, fell an estimated 15 metres from the stage at the MGM Grand Hotel after she slipped out of a safety harness.
Visitor Dan Mosqueda of Colorado Springs, Colo., said the acrobat was being hoisted up the side of the stage when it appeared that she slipped free of her safety wire and plummeted to an open pit below the stage.
"Initially, a lot of people in the audience thought it was part of the (show)," he told the Las Vegas Sun. "But you could hear screaming, then groaning, and we could hear a female artist crying from the stage."
The show momentarily continued, then stopped. Minutes after the accident, a recorded announcement informed audience members that refunds or vouchers to future shows would be offered, and the crowd was dismissed.
“I am heartbroken. I wish to extend my sincerest sympathies to the family. We are all completely devastated with this news,” said Guy Laliberté, founder of the Quebec-based troupe.
”Sassoon was an artist with the original cast of KÀ since 2006 and has been an integral part of our Cirque du Soleil tight family," he said. "Our focus now is to support each other as a family."
The Clark County coroner’s office in Las Vegas confirmed the death of the French-born acrobat.
Guillot-Guyard is the second Cirque du Soleil acrobat to die in an accident, and the first during a performance. Oleksandr Zhurov died in Montreal after a training accident in 2009.
The show is cancelled until further notice.
With files from the Associated Press