Posted on: December 3, 2023, 10:39h.
Last updated on: December 3, 2023, 10:39h.
Cirque du Soleil has been cited for two “serious” violations by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The violations, which come with fines totaling more than $30K, result from an OSHA investigation into a near-fatal injury suffered during its Las Vegas show, “O,” last summer.
On June 28, Cirque performer Kyle Mitrione, 35, broke his neck while attempting a back dive from a barge set onto a rising stage that ended instead in a head-on smack against the stage. The near-tragedy — which stunned the audience for the Bellagio show’s 9:30 p.m. performance — occurred during an update of a sequence made only two weeks earlier.
The violation relevant to Mitrione’s injury was for failing to provide sufficient audio or visual cues so acrobats know when diving into shallow water is safe, according to the R-J.
OSHA’s second citation was for requiring all its artists to be belted into during high-dive and trapeze stunts. While not relevant to Mitrione’s injury, this could have serious implications for the future operation of Cirque shows Strip-wide.
According to OSHA, though belting acrobats in may seem like the safer move, it exposes employees “to serious physical injuries such as internal organ damage and asphyxiation.”
The production company — which grosses a reported $120M-$140M a year — will have to pay $15,625 for each of the two violations, OSHA’s maximum fine for an on-site work violation.
Five hours of emergency surgery were required to repair Mitrione’s fractured spine after he was rushed by stretcher from the Bellagio stage to a local hospital.
Mitrione — a former Purdue University diving champ and member of the Red Bull Cliff Diving extreme stunt team — is reported to be gradually improving with rehab. However, he has not yet regained enough strength in his legs to return to “O.”
On Facebook, Mitrione thanked his followers for the well-wishes a week after his accident.
“Please know the love I’m feeling is keeping me going,” he wrote. “It’s an indescribable sensation of hope and light. You’ve pulled me from a darkness I did not know existed. I can’t thank everyone enough, for every offer to help, every gesture, every thought, prayer, wish, dream … I’ve felt them all.”
Mitrione’s LinkedIn profile shows that he has worked another job, as a marketing associate for an L.A. tech company, since January 2022.
A second artist, unidentified by OSHA, suffered abrasions to his torso during the same accident, when he “grazed” the face of the platform, according to the documents obtained by the R-J.
“Without question, the health, safety and well-being of our artists, crew and administrative team is paramount to our culture and remains the top priority,” Cirque spokeswoman Ann Paladie said in a statement to the R-J. “We have validated that our health and safety standards are comprehensive in our unique industry and we will continue a vigilant focus on our commitment to a healthy and safe work environment for all.”