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French Cirque du Soleil performer dies after falling at Florida show

Last Updated Mar 18, 2018 at 5:40 pm EDT

A 38-year-old Cirque du Soleil performer died after falling during a Saturday evening performance in Tampa, Fla., the Canadian entertainment company announced Sunday.

The Montreal-based entertainment group said that French aerialist Yann Arnaud fell to the stage while performing an aerial straps number during a performance of the company’s VOLTA show.

He was taken to hospital where he later died from his injuries.

The company’s president described Arnaud as an experienced aerialist who was well-loved by his peers.

“The entire Cirque du Soleil family is in shock and devastated by this tragedy,” Daniel Lamarre said in a statement.

“Yann had been with us for over 15 years and was loved by all who had the chance to know him.”

Cirque du Soleil cancelled its two Sunday performances and has said it is working with investigators.

Reached by phone, Lamarre said the group was offering support to its employees, many of whom are devastated by Arnaud’s death.

“I explained to them that the show wouldn’t restart until the whole team feels able to start back,” he said, adding that psychologists had been sent to the site.

“In a case like this, the human element trumps the financial aspect. We have to give priority to employees.”

While accidents are rare, it’s not the first time that a Cirque du Soleil artist has died during a show.

In 2013, acrobat Sarah Guillot-Guyard died after falling more than 30 metres during a show in Las Vegas.