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 April 23, 2024

Former Cirque Performer Sues After Stunt Leaves Him Paralyzed

In a harrowing turn of events, a daring dive during a Cirque du Soleil performance has left a former acrobat fighting for justice and adaptation to a new way of life.

Kyle Mitrione, a former cliff diver for the USA and Cirque performer, has initiated a lawsuit following a tragic accident in Las Vegas that left him quadriplegic.

According to Daily Mail, Kyle Mitrione, at the age of 35, took the drastic step to sue his former employer, Cirque du Soleil, alleging negligence that led to his severe injuries. The incident unfolded at the iconic 'O' performance hosted at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino on June 28, 2023.

Disaster struck during a particularly complex stunt; diving from a moving barge, Mitrione hit his head against an underwater lift in what was supposed to be a choreographed shallow water segment.

This tragic accident resulted not only in spinal and neck fractures but drastically altered his life to one of quadriplegia. Subsequent health complications for Mitrione included hyponatremia and chronic deep vein thrombosis, further aggravating his condition and leading to significant mental health challenges. As a resident of Los Angeles and originally from Haddonfield, New Jersey, Mitrione's new challenges are both physical and deeply personal.

The incident, however, was not isolated. Just six days before Mitrione's performance, another diver experienced a similar 'near miss,' highlighting ongoing safety concerns within the show that were seemingly unaddressed at the time.

A History of Dedication and Challenge

Before joining Cirque du Soleil, Kyle Mitrione was an accomplished part of the USA Cliff Diving team, a background that offered him the thrill and passion he continued to seek in performance art.

October 2021 marked his integration into the practice runs for the 'O' show, where he contributed his high-level diving skills. His wife, Karolina Melska, an aerialist, also joined him in the Cirque du Soleil family, creating a shared professional path.

The intensity of their craft not only brought them together but has now become a crucial point in their fight for justice and safety improvement in the performance industry. Post his injury, Mitrione's dedication to his craft and team emerged poignantly through his gratitude, expressed via social media, for the overwhelming support he received, which he described as a beacon in his darkest times.

OSHA's intervention in December 2023, with a fine exceeding $30,000 against Cirque du Soleil, underscored the severity of the oversight. Despite an appeal by Cirque, the legal and community scrutiny of the safety protocols of such high-risk performances has become unavoidable.

Responses from Cirque du Soleil

In their formal statements, Cirque du Soleil expressed deep regret over the incident, emphasizing that the health and safety of their performers are paramount.

They described the event as an unfortunate accident necessitating a rigorous review of their safety and work culture practices. However, Mitrione's reality paints a different narrative, one of alleged negligence and a rushed performance setup driven by cost-cutting initiatives.

The lawsuit contains stark accusations against Cirque du Soleil, stating, "The defendants knowingly rushed the production and installation of the 'Island' Act." It suggests a disregard for adequate preparation time and synchronization of crucial elements like the musical cues, which are vital for the timing and safety of the performers.

Mitrione's legal team articulates that such negligence left him unknowingly at risk, stating, "If the stage and underwater technicians fail to properly maneuver the ‘Island’ stage, diving performers, such as [Mitrione], are not informed of the possibility for catastrophic failure."

Lessons to Learn from This Tragedy

This heartbreaking incident teaches us important lessons about safety and diligence:

1. Rigorous Safety Checks: Performers and those who make their living in high-risk environments must continually advocate for comprehensive safety checks.

2. Awareness and Training: Ensuring that all crew and performers are adequately trained and aware of the entire setup can minimize risks.

3. Communication is Key: Constant and clear communication between all team members can prevent misunderstandings and ensure timely information flow, safeguarding all involved.

It's crucial to remember that while these steps can reduce risk, accidents can still happen, and it's essential not to blame victims for circumstances beyond their control.

Why This Story Matters

This case highlights significant issues within the performing arts sector, particularly in high-physical-risk productions. It serves as a crucial reminder of the need for stringent safety protocols and the constant monitoring of these measures to protect the artists who entertain and inspire us. Furthermore, it highlights the cost of negligence and the imperative for corporate accountability in the entertainment industry.

In conclusion, Kyle Mitrione's case against Cirque du Soleil questions the conduct and safety standards of a globally recognized entertainment giant and underscores the ongoing risks performers face. It urges a reexamination of industry practices and strengthens the call for enhanced safety measures that protect those who push the boundaries of performance art.

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Written By: Rampart Stonebridge

I'm Rampart Stonebridge, a curious and passionate writer who can't get enough of true crime. As a criminal investigative journalist, I put on my detective hat, delving deep into each case to reveal the hidden truths. My mission? To share engaging stories and shed light on the complexities of our mysterious world, all while satisfying your curiosity about the intriguing realm of true crime.
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