Cirque du Soleil aerialist dies after fall during show in Tampa

Cirque du Soleil issued a statement Sunday afternoon, saying that Yann Arnaud was transported to a nearby hospital where he died of his injuries.

Long-time performer Yann Arnaud died in hospital after falling to the stage

Cirque du Soleil performer Yann Arnaud died in hospital following a fall during a show in Tampa, Fla. (Christelle D'Amours/Radio-Canada)

A Cirque du Soleil aerialist died during a show in Tampa, Fla., on Saturday night after he fell more than six metres to the stage while performing an aerial straps number.

The company issued a statement Sunday afternoon, saying that the performer —Yann Arnaud — was transported to a nearby hospital where he died of his injuries.

"The entire Cirque du Soleil family is in shock and devastated by this tragedy," said Daniel Lamarre, president and CEO of Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group, in the statement.

"Yann had been with us for over 15 years and was loved by all who had the chance to know him. Over the coming days and weeks, our focus will be on supporting Yann's family and our employees, especially the Volta team, as we go through these difficult times together."

Arnaud was performing the aerial strap act in Tampa when he fell. (YouTube)

Lamarre told CBC News that Arnaud, originally from France, leaves behind a wife and two young daughters.

The remaining two Volta shows scheduled in Tampa have been cancelled.

Lamarre said that he got a call in the middle of the night and took the first flight out of Montreal to Tampa on Sunday.

"As soon as I heard the news, I wanted to be here to support the team," he told CBC News.

He said the tight-knit group is in mourning.

"Yann was one of our most experienced artists in the troupe," he said. "He was a great artist, a great performer."

He added that he doesn't believe there was an equipment failure but that it's too early to say for sure.

"For me, one accident like this is too many," he said.

Cirque du Soleil is collaborating with the local authorities as they look into the accident and is also conducting an internal investigation.

The Volta show has been touring across Canada and the United States since last year. (Radio-Canada)

This isn't the first accident in recent memory for Cirque du Soleil's Volta show.

In August 2017, a show in Gatineau, Que., was stopped temporarily when a performer fell.

The parkour specialist fell from a set piece and appeared to injure his head and back, according to a Cirque du Soleil spokesperson.

The show was stopped briefly to allow medical staff to assess the man, and he was eventually able to get up and walk on his own. He did not need to be taken to hospital.

In 2016, three incidents took place in the same week in various Cirque productions. One of them, involving the son of a Cirque du Soleil founder, was fatal.