US & Canada

Cirque du Soleil fined over Las Vegas acrobat's death

Acrobat Sarah Guillot-Guyard, 31
Image caption Sarah Guyard-Guillot appeared to slip free of her safety wire

Cirque du Soleil will be fined after an acrobat died during one of its live shows in Las Vegas in June, Nevada state officials say.

Sarah Guyard-Guillot, 31, was performing at the MGM Grand hotel.

Investigators said the mother of two fell 28m (94ft) to the floor when a safety wire became detached due to her rapid ascent.

They said Guyard-Guillot's death was partly caused by a failure to give her adequate training.

Cirque du Soleil said her death was the first fatality during a live performance in its 29-year history.

The Nevada Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited Cirque du Soleil Nevada on six counts.

These included inadequate equipment training for Guillot-Guyard, and a circus-fall protection programme that did not match state safety standards.

The Nevada OSHA proposed more than $25,000 (£15,600) in penalties for the company.

It also proposed a fine of $7,000 against the MGM Grand hotel for exposing its employees to workplace hazards, including onstage open-sided floors and pyrotechnic dust used for Cirque du Soleil performances.

The accident happened during the final scene of the Canadian company's show, Ka, a mixture of acrobatics, martial arts and puppetry.

Teri Williams, a spokeswoman for the Nevada Department of Business and Industry, said the report found that Guyard-Guillot had ascended too quickly, which caused the rope to detach from the sheave/pulley.

"The rope was severed when it encountered a shear point," she said. "The investigation concluded that she ascended too quickly, in part, because she did not receive proper training.''

Both Cirque du Soleil and the MGM Grand say they will appeal against the OSHA ruling.

"Cirque du Soleil completed an exhaustive review of its safety policies and procedures in the wake of the tragic accident involving Sarah,'' said Cirque du Soleil spokeswoman Renee-Claude Menard.

"We have redoubled our efforts to ensure the overall diligence and safety of our performers and crew."

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