Cirque du Soleil and casino-hotel MGM Grand failed to protect the safety of performers and workers when an aerialist fell to her death during a Las Vegas show this year, Nevada safety officials said Thursday.
The Cirque show “Ka” was nearing its finale June 29 when Sarah Guillot-Guyard, 31, a seven-year Cirque veteran known as Sassoon, plummeted into a pit in front of a shocked audience.
Killed by blunt-force trauma, she was pronounced dead at a hospital. Her death was thought to be the first during a performance in Cirque’s 29-year history.
Nevada’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced that investigators had determined that Guillot-Guyard’s wire rope came off its pulley because she had risen too fast during a climactic battle scene, which is performed in front of a massive wall.
Her rope scraped against a sharp edge of some kind until it broke, officials said, propelling Guillot-Guyard to her death.
OSHA cited Cirque du Soleil, known for its elaborate aerial stunt work, for failing to properly train Guillot-Guyard and for failing to protect other performers by not properly planning for the dangers of the show’s elaborate set.
Cirque, which faces more than $25,000 in fines, also was cited for not following other procedures, such as removing Guillot-Guyard’s rope from the site of the accident without OSHA’s permission.
MGM Grand also was cited for the show’s safety shortcomings and faces $7,000 in fines.
MGM Grand and Cirque du Soleil have 15 days to decide whether to appeal. Both told the Associated Press they would do so.
“Cirque du Soleil completed an exhaustive review of its safety policies and procedures in the wake of the tragic accident involving Sarah,” Cirque du Soleil spokeswoman Renée-Claude Ménard told the Associated Press. “We have redoubled our efforts to ensure the overall diligence and safety of our performers and crew.”
Cirque du Soleil reinstated “Ka” at MGM Grand a little more than two weeks after Guillot-Guyard’s death. In a July announcement, Cirque officials announced the show would continue without the final battle scene, which was replaced by a transitional scene that would maintain the general plot of the 90-minute show.
Guillot-Guyard’s death was not the company’s first brush with workplace danger. In 2009, a Cirque performer died in Montreal after sustaining head injuries from falling off a trampoline during training. Performers have also been hurt during performances of “Zumanity” in Las Vegas, “Corteo” in Portland, Ore., and “La Nouba” in Orlando, Fla.