Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Cirque performer's death ruled an accident

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LAS VEGAS -- The death of a Cirque du soleil performer last Saturday in Las Vegas has been ruled accidental by the Clark County coroner's office in Nevada.

In a statement posted on its website, the office says the death of Sarah Guillot-Guyard was accidental and related to multiple blunt force trauma.

The 31-year-old woman died after she fell more than 25 metres while performing in front of an audience at Las Vegas's MGM Grand hotel.

The coroner's office says the Nevada Occupational Safety and Health Administration is continuing an investigation into the accident and it could take up to six months to complete.

Witnesses told the Las Vegas Sun that the accident occurred during a fight scene near the end of Ka.

Visitor Dan Mosqueda of Colorado Springs, Colo., said Guillot-Guyard was being hoisted up the side of the stage when it appeared that she detached from her safety wire and plummeted to an open pit below the stage.

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.

The founder of Cirque du soleil said in a statement that his tight-knit performance company is "completely devastated" by the performer's death.

"I am heartbroken," Guy Laliberté said. "We are reminded with great humility and respect how extraordinary our artists are each and every night. Our focus now is to support each other as a family."

The incident was the first stage casualty in the company's 29-year history, according to Cirque spokeswoman Renée-Claude Menard.

Guillot-Guyard, a mother of two, had been with the original cast of Ka since 2006. Born in Paris, she is also listed as the head coach at Cirquefit, a program that offers acrobatic fitness classes for children.

-- CP / AP

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 5, 2013 D3

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