1. News

Cirque du Soleil performer dies after fall during Tampa performance

Cirque du Soleil performer Yann Arnaud, left, in a photo taken from his Facebook page. Arnaud died after suffering a fall during a Tampa Cirque du Soleil performance Credit: Facebook.
Published Mar. 18, 2018

An acrobat who fell some 20 feet during a Tampa Cirque du Soleil performance Saturday night has died from his injuries.

Around 9:52 p.m. during the Saturday Volta show, veteran aerialist Yann Arnaud lost his grip on an aerial ring and fell to the stage, a video reviewed by the Tampa Bay Times showed.

At the time of the fall, Arnaud and another performer were conducting a complex routine that involved the acrobats swinging back and forth over the stage. The men, each holding onto a gymnastic ring suspended by a rope, interlocked arms as the ring ropes wound around one another. When the ropes unwound, the acrobats swung to opposite ends of the performance space. As gravity brought them back toward the center of the arena, Arnaud lost his grip and plunged to the stage.

The show immediately stopped so medical professionals could tend to the injured performer. Arnaud was transported to Tampa General Hospital, where he died early Sunday, a hospital spokeswoman confirmed.

RELATED: Cirque du Soleil aerialist who died after fall was performing act for first time, he said on Instagram

Cirque du Soleil announced in a statement Sunday that the rest of its Tampa performances would be cancelled. Volta's run at the Tampa Greyhound Track began Feb. 14 and was to end Sunday.

"The entire Cirque du Soleil family is in shock and devastated by this tragedy," Daniel Lamarre, President and CEO of Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group said in the 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 added that it would further investigate the incident. The Tampa Police Department is also investigating the incident, although a department spokesman said in a statement that the fall appeared to be accidental.

An autopsy will be performed Monday by the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner's Office, TPD spokesman Steve Hegarty said.

According to his Facebook profile, Arnaud, 38, was from Champigny-sur-Marne, France, and lived in Miami. Other social media posts indicated he had a wife and daughter.

Arnaud is not the first Cirque du Soleil performer to die from an injury sustained during a performance. The Canadian theater company suffered its first onstage death in 2013, when another French performer, Sarah Guillot-Guyard, 31, fell about 50 feet during a performance in Las Vegas.

Ben Ritter, 76, of Tampa, who attended Saturday's performance, said the injury was shocking. As soon as Arnaud hit the stage, he said the performer was "out cold and not moving."

When the audience was asked to leave the arena after the fall, Ritter, a retired advocate for disabled veterans, thought the show might only suffer a brief delay. But within half an hour the crowd was informed the remainder of Saturday's show was cancelled. (Audience members who purchased tickets through Cirque du Soleil were immediately refunded.)

But a refund was the least of Ritter's worries.

"I'm so concerned for that acrobat," Ritter said Sunday.

Other spectators — and one professional athlete — took to Twitter to offer their best wishes to the performer.

"Can't stop thinking about the guy who fell last night," New York Yankees outfielder Shane Robinson tweeted.

"If you're the praying type, say a few for the @Cirque performers at #Volta in Tampa tonight," an audience member, Amanda Scherer, tweeted.

Times staff writer Langston Taylor contributed to this report.


  1. Nicole Kristine Gaskins, 45, died Monday in a single-car crash on I-275. The Wesley Chapel woman was a mother of two. Jeanne Eror
    Nicole Kristine Gaskins, 45, died Monday when her car drifted off of Interstate 275 and crashed.
  2. FILE - In this Oct. 13, 2017, file photo, death row inmate Rodney Reed waves to his family in the Bastrop County District Court in Bastrop,  Reed is facing lethal injection for a murder he says he didn't commit. The execution was called into question by lawmakers, pastors, celebrities and the European Union. RICARDO BRAZZIELL  |  AP
    The 51-year-old had been set for lethal injection Wednesday evening for the 1996 killing of 19-year-old Stacey Stites.
  3. Discussing sex education on Nov. 15 in Tampa are Christian conservative Terry Kemple, university health services coordinator Linsey Grove, Planned Parenthood outreach educator Paola Ferst and Hillsborough schools physical education and health supervisor Ashlee Cappucci. Not shown: County PTA Council President Damaris Allen. MARLENE SOKOL
    Lessons seek to strengthen students’ communication skills so they can make informed decisions.
  4. Henry "Shake" Washington is running for Hillsborough County School Board for the second time since 2018.
  5. Forensic Science investigators with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office collect evidence at the scene of the shooting behind the Walmart Neighborhood Market, 6900 US Hwy 19 N, in Pinellas Park, on Friday, November 15, 2019. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The victim was a Walmart employee. He was on break at the time of the shooting.
  6. FILE - In this Aug. 1, 2019, file photo, Donald Trump Jr. speaks before the arrival of President Donald Trump at a campaign rally at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File) JOHN MINCHILLO  |  AP
    University of Florida student body president Michael Murphy received a resolution for his impeachment Tuesday. Then the state’s Republican Party started an online petition and fundraiser.
  7. Jeremy Guerrero, 31, was arrested on charges of DUI manslaughter and driving with a license suspended or revoked involving death, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. He's accused of being impaired by methamphetamines when troopers said he caused a crash on Interstate 75 that killed a woman early Friday. Florida Highway Patrol
    The 31-year-old driver faces a charge of DUI manslaughter after causing the crash that killed a 57-year-old woman, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
  8. The $3 billion Water Street project is slated to be complete by 2026 or 2027. How affordable will it be? SHADD, DIRK  |  Tampa Bay Times
    A project executive ticked off many ways the $3 billion project will alter Tampa, but a Cafe con Tampa audience wanted details on what it will cost to live there
  9. A total of 131 employees are scheduled to be laid off in January as Locale Market and Farm Table Cucina close at the Sundial to make way for a new food hall created by the developers of the Heights Public Market at the Armature Works in Tampa. CHRIS URSO   |   TIMES
    In a notice to the state of Florida, Sundial owner Bill Edwards said the layoffs are expected to take place the first week of January.
  10. Investigators say Traci Hudson stole more than $500,000 from a man she had guardianship over.
    Traci Hudson, 51, spent the money on personal purchases ranging from utilities to jewelry to Tampa Bay Buccaneers tickets.