Circus moves to Hartford, injured performers still hospitalized
The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus pulled out of Providence Monday, but eight of its performers remained behind in the hospital after a horrifying fall.
Rhode Island Hospital reported that four of the women were in serious condition and four were in good condition Tuesday morning.
"I don't wish that even on my enemies," said Roiter Neves, whose daughter, Widny, is one of the injured acrobats.
Speaking to NBC 10 from Brazil, Neves said his daughter was hanging upside in the act when the equipment and performers crashed to the floor of the Dunkin' Donuts Center during the Sunday morning performance.
He said Widny has a broken arm and back injuries.
"I feel relieved because it was very, very bad. I just say thank God to have her here now," Roiter Neves said.
Roiter Neves is himself a retired circus performer.
"We are a big family around the world. Everybody is praying for these beautiful girls," he said.
Providence firefighter Scott Derry was already in the Dunkin' Donuts Center working a detail when the accident happened.
"What I saw was mass trauma and broken bones," Derry said. "They weren't saying much. They were crying and in shock."
First responders saw compound fractures to legs and arms and head injuries too.
"One of the girls looked up at me and very calmly but sadly said, I can't feel my legs," Providence police Sgt. Sean Carroll said.
But they were all conscious and emergency workers said the performers were lucky the injuries were not worse.
Investigators have zeroed in on what went wrong, saying a carabiner clip holding up the equipment snapped.
"It's a metal 4- or 5-inch clamp that failed. We don't know if it's the exclusive reason why the collapse of that performance," said Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare.
City officials say it was not their responsibility to inspect the equipment beforehand.
The remaining shows in Providence Sunday and Monday were canceled, but the shows will go on in Hartford at the end of the week. The hair-hanging act will not be performed.