Cirque du Soleil Acrobat Dies After Accidental Fall During Performance

In this Nov. 28, 2008, photo, Sarah Guyard-Guillot, left, and Sami Tiaumassi perform as "Forest People" during Cirque du Soleil's "Ka" at MGM Grand Resort in Las Vegas. Guyard-Guillot, a mother of two young children, was pronounced dead at a hospital late Saturday night, June 29, 2013, after falling about 50 feet from the show's stage during a performance of Cirque du Soleil's "Ka." AP Photo/Las Vegas Sun, Leila Navidi

The Cirque du Soleil family is mourning the tragic loss of one its own. After an accident during a Saturday, June 29 performance of Ka at the MGM Grand Las Vegas, acrobatic performer Sarah Guyard-Guillot died at age 31. The Paris-born performer was one of the acrobats suspended by a wire during the show's "Final Battle" scene; she somehow slipped from her safety wire and plummeted about 50 feet to the pit below.

"(The artist) was being hoisted up the side of the stage and then just plummeted down," eyewitness Dan Mosqueda, told the Las Vegas Sun. "Initially, a lot of people in the audience thought it was part of the choreographed fight. But you could hear screaming, then groaning, and we could hear a female artist crying from the stage."

Reportedly the first death in the 30-year-history of the worldwide Cirque du Soleil performance franchise, Guyard-Guillot was pronounced dead at 11:43 p.m. Saturday at University Medical Center. No formal cause of death has been determined. With 22 years of acrobatic performance behind her, the late acrobat joined Ka in 2004.

"The entire Cirque du Soleil family is deeply saddened by the accidental death of Sarah (Sassoon) Guyard, artist on the production 'Ka,' that happened on Saturday, June 29, in Las Vegas," a rep for the company said in a statement. "The artist's immediate family has been informed of the accident. Our thoughts are with her family and the entire Cirque du Soleil family.”

Added Guy Laliberte,' Cirque's founder: "I am heartbroken. I wish to extend my sincerest sympathies to the family. We are all completely devastated with this news. Sassoon was an artist with the original cast of 'Ka' since 2006 and has been an integral part of our Cirque du Soleil tight family. We are reminded, with great humility and respect, how extraordinary our artists are each and every night. Our focus now is to support each other as a family."

Lalibert added that all performances of Ka have been canceled until further notice, and that they are cooperating with authorities as the investigation continues.

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