The accident occurred Sunday morning during a stunt circus spokeswoman Melinda Hartline described as the "Human Chandelier." Police say nine of the performers are in critical condition with non-life-threatening injuries.
Witness Othello Smith described to the Providence Journal what he saw:
One of the performers was crying. It looked pretty bad.
They just dropped. It happened so fast you didn't really believe it.
Another spectator caught the accident on tape:
In a news conference earlier, Roman Garcia, general manager of the current Ringling Bros. tour, made the following statement: “Everybody’s conscious. Everybody’s doing well. We ask everybody to pray for the girls.”
Although rare, this is not the first serious incident for the world-renowned circus. In 2004 a Ringling Bros. acrobat perished after dropping 30 feet during a performance in St. Paul, Minn.