Monday, September 12, 2011

..Circus acrobat falls from trapeze..

By Brian D. Bridgeford

Posted: Monday, September 12, 2011 3:30 am
Baraboo News Republic
Circus World performer Hannah Crist was flown to a Madison hospital Saturday afternoon and underwent surgery to repair fractures to her spine after plunging about 12 feet to the ring's floor during her trapeze act.

She is expected to make a full recovery, Performance Director David SaLoutos said.

Shortly before noon, Baraboo District Ambulance Service was called to the museum after reports of a 23-year-old performer falling off the trapeze in the hippodrome, Lt. Kristin Johnson said. Crist was taken to St. Clare Hospital and then flown by Med Flight helicopter ambulance to University Hospital in Madison.

Crist maintained full use of her arms and legs, but appeared to be confused, said Chelsea White, Circus World's executive assistant.

Early Saturday evening, SaLoutos said Crist was in good spirits and joking with her brother, illusionist Tristan Crist, as she was prepared for surgery. She suffered a concussion and must have fractures of two vertebrae in her lower back immobilized.

"She kind of wrenched her back there, so they've got to put everything back in place," he said. "But the prognosis is good she'll regain full mobility."

Crist was performing a routine called the toe hang as part of the new twice-daily show of magic and aerial stunts she shares with her brother. The trapeze was about 10-12 feet high, 5 feet lower than it is during the summer's regular season, SaLoutos said.

"She slipped off as she went forward," he said. "She could kind of feel it wasn't as solid as she likes it to be, but didn't have time to react - things happened so quickly."

Hannah Crist went over the curb around the performance ring and ended up at the foot of the bleachers. No other people were hurt in the incident.

Her recovery will take two to three months of healing followed by physical therapy, so the Crists' show will end for the season, SaLoutos said. Fall operation of the museum exhibits will continue as normal.

SaLoutos said the only other accident he could remember in the decades he has been with the museum was a performer falling off a large steel wheel called the Wheel of Destiny. That man suffered some muscle soreness the next day, but walked out of the tent under his own power.

"We've been extremely lucky over the years," he said. "We stress safety, too."

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