Great Yarmouth Hippodrome Circus show stopped after acrobat fall

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  • By Mariam Issimdar
  • BBC News, Norfolk

Video caption,

The ‘wheel of death’ performer fell in front of a family audience

A circus acrobat was seriously injured when he fell several metres from a rotating apparatus during a packed family show.

The performer, in his 20s, fell while riding the “Giant Wheel of Death” at the Hippodrome Circus in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, on Wednesday night.

Witnesses described how they initially thought the fall was part of the show.

Norfolk Police said the artist “sustained serious, potentially life-changing injuries” but was stable.

Jack Jay, manager and circus ringmaster, said: “He was fully conscious after the fall and two members of the audience, believed to be an off-duty police officer and a paramedic, came forward to help.”

Explaining how he might have fallen, Mr Jay said: “It looked like mistiming. He went to jump through one of the wheels and slipped, landing on the floor.”

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The brothers pictured performing their act earlier in the week at the Hippodrome Circus in Great Yarmouth

A witness, who had seen the act at the Hippodrome before, said the performer was blindfolded, and initially thought the fall was part of the performance.

The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, was in the front row with her partner and his parents.

“I was recording it as it [the performance] was so brilliant,” she said.

“He slipped or tripped and fell to the ground and to begin with I thought it was part of the act, so continued recording.

“They often miss on purpose to get the audience sort of riled up and on the edge of their seats, but then we realised something was wrong.”

The witness said a screen was quickly brought onto the arena to shield the acrobat whilst he was attended to.

She said Mr Jay spoke to the audience and reassured them he was still conscious before bringing the show to an early close.

Norfolk Police said in a statement that officers were called at about 19:37 GMT on Wednesday.

A police spokesman said: “Officers are working with the local authorities to establish the circumstances that led to the incident.”

The artist was taken by ambulance to the James Paget Hospital, and later transferred to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, where he remained in a stable condition, the force said.

The East of England Ambulance Service said it and the air ambulance attended and confirmed the acrobat was taken to hospital with serious injuries.

The acrobat’s partner in the act was his brother, who accompanied him to the James Paget Hospital along with circus staff.

My Jay added that health and safety officials had been notified and were expected to investigate the fall as well as the apparatus at the purpose-built circus.

Police said a seal put in place overnight at the circus had now been lifted.

Mr Jay said he hoped shows would resume from Thursday evening after they had been given official permission by the authorities.

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