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Acrobat dies after falling during Cirque du Soleil show in Tampa

Longtime aerialist fell during routine, company says

TAMPA, Fla. – An acrobat died Saturday after falling during an aerial straps routine at a Cirque du Soleil show in Tampa, the company said.

A spokesperson for the Tampa Police Department said that long-time aerialist Yann Arnaud, 38, lost his grip on a ring during his routine and fell about 20 feet onto the stage just before 10 p.m. Arnaud was rushed to Tampa General Hospital, where he died of his injuries.

Cirque du Soleil ended the show after the fall.

"Yann had been with us for over 15 years and was loved by all who had the chance to know him," said Daniel Lamarre, president and CEO of Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group. "Over the coming days and weeks, our focus will be on supporting Yann’s family and our employees." 

The company was set for perform two additional shows near the Tampa Greyhound Track on Sunday, but those performances have been canceled.

Julien Martinez was in the audience Saturday night and told CNN that Arnaud was "straining to hold onto the rope."

"It was awful," Martinez said of the fall. "You heard all the cries of the audience. There were children there and they were freaking out."

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The same show, Volta, was performed in Miami Gardens in December.

Tampa police said that the incident is being investigated even though it appears to be an accidental death. Police said an autopsy will be performed Monday.

According to CNN, this isn't the first tragedy to strike one of Cirque du Soleil's performers. In June 2013, 31-year-old acrobat and aerialist Sarah Guillot-Guyard died after a fall during a show at a Las Vegas casino.