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Citations proposed in Cirque acrobat's death

Posted: October 29, 2013 3:32 p.m.
Updated: October 29, 2013 3:32 p.m.

Acrobat Sarah, Guillot-Guyard, 31, died this summer after falling about 50 feet from a show stage during a production at the MGM Grand. Safety officials cite Cirque du Soleil and casino MGM Grand.

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Safety officials announced plans to cite performance company Cirque du Soleil and casino MGM Grand after an acrobat died in Las Vegas over the summer in a fall witnessed by the audience.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration said in a statement that they've wrapped up their investigation into the June 29 death of 31-year-old Sarah Guillot-Guyard. Investigators concluded she fell 94 feet to the floor below when a wire rope she was suspended from was severed due to her rapid descent.

"She ascended too quickly which caused the rope to come out of the sheave/pulley," said Teri Williams, spokeswoman for the Nevada Department of Business and Industry. "The rope was severed when it encountered a sheer point. The investigation concluded that she ascended too quickly, in part, because she did not receive proper training."

OSHA proposed six citations for Cirque du Soleil Nevada and three citations for the MGM Grand, where the performance took place. Both entities have 15 days to appeal, although neither party immediately responded to a request for comment Tuesday afternoon.

Among other things, OSHA reported Cirque didn't provide proper training for the performer, and didn't property assess the workplace for hazards. MGM faces citations because its employees were exposed to hazards due to deficiencies in Cirque's hazard assessments, according to OSHA.

The accident occurred during a fight scene near the end of the "Ka," which combines acrobatics with martial arts and puppetry and tells the story of two imperial twins on a quest to reclaim their Far East palace from evil warriors.

Visitor Dan Mosqueda of Colorado Springs, Colo., told the Las Vegas Sun the performer was being hoisted up the side of the stage when it appeared that she detached from her safety wire and plummeted to an open pit below the stage.

"Initially, a lot of people in the audience thought it was part of the (show)," he told the Sun. "But you could hear screaming, then groaning, and we could hear a female artist crying from the stage."

The show was cut short after the acrobat's fall, and reopened 17 days after her death.

Guillot-Guyard was the first Cirque du Soleil performer to die in an onstage accident in the company's 29-year history.

The mother of two had been with the original cast of "Ka" since 2006, and had been an acrobatic performer for more than 20 years, according to Cirque officials. Born in Paris, she is also listed as the head coach at Cirquefit, a program that offers acrobatic fitness classes for children.


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