Circus performer suffers life-changing injury in 'wheel of death' fall at Great Yarmouth Hippodrome

A performer suffered life-changing injuries after falling at Great Yarmouth Hippodrome's circus show.
Credit: Great Yarmouth Hippodrome
Footage circulating online showed one of the performers running over the top of the wheel and then dropping through the centre of the rotating structure. Credit: Hippodrome Circus

A circus performer suffered potentially life-changing injuries after falling from a suspended rotating structure known as the Wheel of Death during a show.

The male cast member fell an estimated 13ft-16ft (4m-5m) at the Hippodrome Circus in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, on Wednesday evening, the venue said.

He remained conscious throughout and is thought to have suffered injuries to his arm, shoulder and leg.

He was evaluated overnight and is believed to be in a stable condition.

The show, called the Christmas Spectacular, was stopped for the evening and the audience was asked to leave the venue.

No other performers or members of the public were hurt.

The circus manager and ringmaster Jack Jay told the BBC the fall appeared to be due to a “mistiming”, saying: “He went to jump through one of the wheels and slipped, landing on the floor.”

He added: “He was fully conscious after the fall and two members of the audience, believed to be an off-duty police officer and a paramedic, came forward to help.”

The venue said it was “unlikely” the acrobat would be able to return to the show this season but is “hopeful” he will perform again after some recovery time.

A spokesman for the Christmas Spectacular said: “Obviously this sort of event is scary for all involved. We are all wishing a speedy recovery for our fellow cast member.

“We would like to pass on our thanks to the audience in attendance, who were very understanding and remained calm.”

A Norfolk Police spokeswoman said officers were called at around 7.37pm on Wednesday night and were working to establish what led to the fall.

She said: “The man sustained serious, potentially life-changing injuries, and was taken by ambulance to the James Paget Hospital, and later transferred to Addenbrooke's Hospital where he remains in a stable condition.

“A seal was put in place at the scene overnight, but this has since been lifted.

“Officers are working with the local authorities to establish the circumstances that led to the incident.”

A spokesman for the East of England Ambulance Service confirmed it had attended along with the East Anglian Air Ambulance.