PROVIDENCE, R.I — (AP) A carabiner is the only piece of equipment investigators have found that failed in a circus accident in which eight aerial acrobats plummeted to the ground, a public safety official said yesterday.
Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare stopped short of saying the broken clip was the cause of Sunday’s accident at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey circus. He said federal workplace safety investigators were trying to determine why it snapped.
“We don’t know if it was metal fatigue, if it wasn’t properly positioned or something else,” he added. “We just don’t know.”
The 4- to 5-inch clip was found in three pieces, fire officials said at a news conference. It was rated to hold 10,000 pounds, and circus officials told they estimated it was holding about 1,500 pounds. Pare said the carabiner is a national name brand, although he did not have the manufacturer’s name.
Two of the acrobats were in critical condition yesterday. Family members say their injuries included a pierced liver and neck and back fractures. Stephen Payne, a spokesman for Feld Entertainment, the parent company of Ringling Bros., said none of the injuries appear to be life-threatening.
“We are hopeful that all of these performers will achieve a full recovery and be able to return to the show at some point,” said Stephen Payne, a spokesman for Feld Entertainment, the parent company of Ringling Bros.
A spokeswoman for Rhode Island Hospital said performers Dayana Costa and Julissa Segrera were in critical condition. Viktoriya Medeiros, Stefany Neves and Viktorila Liakhova were listed in serious condition, while Samantha Pitard, Svitlana Balanicheva and Widny Neves were listed in good condition. The women are from the United States, Brazil, Bulgaria and Ukraine, according to the circus website.
Widny Neves’ father, Roitner Neves, said she broke her right arm and suffered back and neck fractures. He said Widny, who had been traveling with the circus for more than four years, was the in the center of the apparatus and upside-down when it fell.