Investigator: Failed clamp caused circus accident

By Michael Pearson, CNN
May 6, 2014 — Updated 0329 GMT (1129 HKT)

(CNN) — The weekend accident that injured nine members of a circus troupe, along with two other people, during a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey performance in Providence, Rhode Island, was caused by a 5-inch D-ring that snapped, the lead investigator for the city’s fire department said Monday.

“It was a single piece of equipment that failed,” fire investigator Paul Doughty told reporters.
The steel caribiner was part of a rig designed to hoist performers by their hair into the air above the audience, where they would perform acrobatics. When it snapped, the rig fell to the ground to the confusion and horror of the audience.
What caused the D-ring — also called a caribiner — to snap remains under investigation, Doughty said.

The caribiner was rated for about 10,000 pounds, and the weight of the performers and the rig that fell was about 1,500 pounds, he said.

Doughty declined to say if the rigging appeared safe. But Providence Fire Chief Clarence Cunha said his crews would not rely on a single caribiner for safety.

First responders described a gruesome scene, with performers scattered on the floor, some suffering from compound fractures in which the bone protrudes through the skin. Many appeared to be in shock, they said. (To read the rest of this article, go to