Today, four brave circus acrobats spoke publicly for the first time since they were injured in an accident, to announce they are planning a lawsuit.
The accident occurred during Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus' Legends show at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island, on May 4.
Eight female acrobats from the U.S., Brazil, Bulgaria, and Ukraine were injured when investigators say a carabiner clip snapped, sending them plummeting about 20 feet to the floor. The women were performing what is called the a "human chandelier" act, which involves being suspended by only their hair. A ninth performer standing below was also injured.
The accident occurred during a day time circus performance to an audience packed full of families and children.
All of the performers survived the accident, but their recovery has been brutal. The Associated Press reports that two patients suffered severe spinal cord injuries, five had open fractures, and one had a lacerated liver.
The four women spoke today at a press conference held at at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, where a number are still undergoing physical therapy. The acrobats declined to discuss details of their individual injuries, citing legal reasons. Instead, their focus is on recovering and doing all they can to assure an accident like this never happens to another circus performer.
"My dream was to be a star performer," Julissa Segrera, a 20-year-old American, said from her wheelchair.
"Now my dream is to get up and walk."Svitlana Balanicheva, a 22-year-old native of Ukraine, said she felt angels were watching over the troupe on the day of the accident to make sure they made it out alive.
Clifford Law Offices in Chicago is representing seven of the eight women injured in the accident, including the four that spoke Tuesday. The eighth is being represented by another firm.
The Boston Globe identified Michael S. Krzak and Thomas K. Prindable as attorneys who were present at the press conference. No lawsuit has been filed as of yet. The lawyers said they cannot determine who will be sued until they complete their investigation of the accident. However, Prindable said the performers cannot sue Ringling Brothers because of workers' compensation laws.
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is still investigating the accident.
The circus acrobats' medical treatment for the accident injuries is being covered through workers compensation. It has not yet been determined what types of damages they will be seeking in the lawsuit.
Photo via The Associated Press