In July 2017, a Saturday night in Madrid turned tragic for 42-year-old acrobat. A British-based acrobat, Pedro Aunion Monroy, died after falling 100ft from a suspended cage in front of the crowd of 35,000 people at a music festival in Madrid, Spain. The incident happened just moments before the lead performer Green Day, an American punk rock band, came on stage, Pedro fell to the ground during a routine to the song.
Sickened attendees walked out when the organisers went ahead continuing the performance of the band despite the accident.However, it is but one in a series of serious deaths and injuries that have plagued performers throughout history. Here are five more you may not have heard of.
Vic Morrow – In 1983, during the filming of The Twilight Zone: The Movie, Morrow and two child actors were killed by a falling helicopter during a Vietnam War scene. The helicopter was piloted by an actual Vietnam veteran who had no actual experience on a movie set. The pilot misjudged his landing and lost control of the chopper. Like a scenario out of the Twilight Zone itself, Morrow was decapitated by a whirling helicopter blade. Director John Landis faced charges of involuntary manslaughter and neglecting child labor laws, but he was acquitted. The incident did, however, bring about widespread safety regulations in Hollywood.
Brandon Lee – Bruce Lee’s son died tragically while filming The Crow in 1993. During one scene, the tip of a dummy bullet came off and got lodged in the gun. When the dummies were switched out for fresh ones, the tip remained in the gun. When fired, the tip shot out of the gun, hitting Lee in his stomach and fatally wounding him. His fellow cast members later completed the film.
Daniel Hoevels – In 2008, Hoevels was acting in Friedrich Schiller’s Mary Stuart at Vienna’s Burgtheater. In the final scene, his character was to kill himself. However, the prop knife was switched out for a real one, and the actor lay bleeding on the stage floor until someone noticed that the special effects were, in fact, real. Fortunately, Hoevels missed his main artery and returned to the stage the following night. After all, the show must go on.
Christopher Tierney – Tierney played the lead in the most expensive Broadway musical ever produced, Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark. In December 2010, he fell while performing a flying stunt during a preview performance. He had a fractured skull, four broken ribs, fractured shoulder blade, and three broken vertebrae. Despite having eight screws put in his back, the actor returned to the show early, just four months after his fall. Interestingly, though the show never faced litigation for injury, director Julie Taymor did sue the producers over the rights to the show after she was fired from the project.
Miguel –The R&B star jumped from stage to runway during a concert in May 2013. He misjudged the distance and landed on a girl in the audience. Though her head hit the runway, there was no serious injury. And that young woman has had a true “brush with celebrity.”
Fortunately, these incidents are notable because they are rare. Most of the time, performers (and audience members) are safe because of the work of actors’ unions, stage managers, production assistants, and other hard-working individuals. When tragedy does strike, it is usually because a director, producer, crew member, or performer has been negligent or careless in some manner. And when that happens, it may ground for a personal injury lawsuit.