LAS VEGAS - A Paris-born performer in Cirque du Soleil's "Ka" died after a fall during a show in Las Vegas.
Sarah Guyard-Guillot was pronounced dead late Saturday night at a hospital after falling about 50 feet from the show's stage.
Witnesses told the Las Vegas Sun that the accident occurred near the end of the production Saturday night at the MGM Grand.
Visitor Dan Mosqueda of Colorado Springs, Colo., said the 31-year-old acrobatic performer was being hoisted up the side of the stage when it appeared that she slipped free of her safety wire and plummeted to an open pit below the stage.
"Initially, a lot of people in the audience thought it was part of the (show)," he told the Sun. "But you could hear screaming, then groaning, and we could hear a female artist crying from the stage."
The show momentarily continued, then stopped. Minutes after the accident, a recorded announcement informed audience members that refunds or vouchers to future shows would be offered, and the crowd was dismissed.
Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte issued a statement Sunday praising Guyard-Guillot and saying performances of "Ka" have been canceled until further notice.
Guyard-Guillot, a mother of two children, had been with the original cast of "Ka" since 2006, and had been an acrobatic performer for over 20 years.
"I am heartbroken. I wish to extend my sincerest sympathies to the family. We are all completely devastated," Laliberte said. "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."
Cirque officials are working with authorities investigating the accident and have offered their full cooperation, he added.
The Clark County Coroner's Office will rule on the cause of death.
The MGM Grand also issued a statement concerning the accident.
"Our company is deeply saddened by the loss of one of the talented KA artists Saturday night," it reads. "The thoughts and prayers of our employees are with the performer's family, the cast of KA, and the entire Cirque family during this difficult time."
The accident occurred while Cirque's top executives, including president Daniel Lamarre, were in Las Vegas to celebrate the premiere of "Michael Jackson One" at Mandalay Bay.
On Wednesday night, a performer in a preview performance of that show suffered a mild concussion after missing the protective pad below an act and landing on the stage. That artist is expected to return to the show.
Information from: Las Vegas Sun, http://www.lasvegassun.com