An aerial hair-hanging stunt at the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus, May 2, 2014, in Providence, R.I.Frank Caprio/ap
The hair-hanging performers of the Medeiros Troupe who fell 25 to 40 feet to the ground on Sunday.Viktoriya Medeiros' Facebook page
The Medeiros Troupe, a high-flying and hair-hanging stunt in the Ringing Bro. and Barnum and Bailey Circus whose performers fell during Sunday’s show in Rhode Island – injuring eight – is the brainchild of Andrey Medeiros, a Brazilian-born aerialist from a family of circus performers.
The performance includes Medeiros’ wife, Viktoriya, who was one of the people hospitalized. The troupe has been performing the “Hair Hang” act for a few years now with only two performers, Viktoriya Medeiros and Widny Neves, who was also injured. But the novelty in “Legends,” this year’s show, was expanding the hair hang to include eight women.
“We love to make the impossible possible,” Andrey Medeiros said recently.
According to the Ringling Bros. website, it’s Andrey’s “attention to every detail, even welding the three different rigs that the girls hang from, that keeps his troupe safe and sound each and every time the act is presented.”
All the performers fell 25 to 40 feet to the ground, injuring three others in the process. Three of the performers, Dayana Costa, Julissa Segrera and Stefany Neves were still in critical condition on Monday morning at Rhode Island Hospital.
There were 3,900 people in the audience, many of them children.
Investigators looking into why circus acrobats plummeted to the ground during the stunt at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, R.I. have found that a clamp snapped, a public safety official said Monday.
The Providence Public Safety Commissioner, Steven Pare, told radio station WPRO-AM, “We have identified a clamp that snapped that held them to the rafters… It snapped off.”
Roman Garcia, general manager of the "Legends" show, told the Associated Press, that “Everybody’s doing fine, everybody’s at the hospital, everybody’s conscious, everybody’s doing pretty well.”
Andrey Medeiros, a fourth-generation circus performer, and Viktoriya, a former Bulgarian gymnast who switched to circus work, met while traveling together with the Cole Bros. Circus in the early 2000s. At the time, he was performing with a troupe he’d been a part of for 19 years. When the job was over, he had to “choose the job or choose the love,” he told the Dallas Morning News last year.
Their permanent home is in Florida, but as circus folk, they travel most of the year; they have an 8-year-old son, named Kristofer.
Apart from the “hairialist” act, Andrey used to ride a motorcycle on a wire 50 feet from the ground, but he fell a few years ago, according to the Dallas Morning News, and hurt himself seriously.
“The circus owners,” Andrey Medeiros told the Fort Myers, Fla., News-Press in 2004, “they want the best, so you have to keep going to that next level.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.