The Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus opens in Providence Thursday nearly a year after a tragic accident injured nine performers. Some of the acrobats are still recovering from their injuries.
Last May, during a performance in Providence, a group of eight acrobats hung by their hair some 35 feet above the stage floor. They were sent plunging to the ground when a clamp that was part of their equipment failed. The performers and one person on the ground suffered fractured legs, wrists, even necks.
Members of the medical team at Rhode Island Hospital who have been caring for the injured circus acrobats appeared at a press conference Wednesday morning. From left to right, Roman Hayda, MD, orthopedic surgeon; Adetokunbo Oyelese, MD, PhD, neurosurgeon; Arthur Bert, MD, chief of anesthesia; Stephanie Farquhar, RN, MS, CCRN, clinical manager, SICU; David Harrington, MD, trauma surgeon; Timothy Babineau, MD, president and CEO, Lifespan, Rhode Island Hospital.
Homemade cards and flowers are pouring in to Rhode Island Hospital for the seven injured circus acrobats who remain hospitalized there. That’s buoyed the performers’ spirits, four of whom are still in serious condition.
Investigators say a clamp that held up an apparatus snapped, sending eight acrobats plunging 35 feet to the ground, falling on a dancer below. It happened on Sunday during a circus act where women dangle high above the ground from their hair.
If your kids were at Sunday's Ringling Bros. circus performance in Providence, they might be asking some tough questions now or needing comfort and reassurance. Or it might be too soon to tell how witnessing something so traumatic has affected them. Either way, it can be tough to know what to say, to balance the truth about life - that bad things can happen to anyone without warning - with the protection kids sometimes need from the world's harshest realities.