NEWS
03/18/2018 20:18 EDT | Updated 03/18/2018 20:31 EDT

Yann Arnaud, Cirque du Soleil Aerialist, Dies After Fall At Florida Performance

He was 38.

Yann Arnaud and Gael Ouisse perform at the Cirque Du Soleil's "Totem" dress rehearsal on March 13, 2013 in New York City.
John Lamparski/WireImage
Yann Arnaud and Gael Ouisse perform at the Cirque Du Soleil's "Totem" dress rehearsal on March 13, 2013 in New York City.

A 38-year-old Cirque du Soleil performer died after falling during a Saturday evening performance in Tampa, Fla., the Canadian entertainment company announced Sunday.

The Montreal-based entertainment group said that French aerialist Yann Arnaud fell to the stage while performing an aerial straps number during a performance of the company's VOLTA show.

According to NBC, police said Arnaud was on the double rings when one of his hands slipped and he fell about six metres (20 feet).

Just hours before the show, the performer had posted an Instagram update that "after so much work and training and staging, our straps duo act is finally in the show tonight."

He was taken to hospital where he later died from his injuries.

The company's president described Arnaud, who was from France, as an experienced aerialist who was well-loved by his peers.

"The entire Cirque du Soleil family is in shock and devastated by this tragedy," Daniel Lamarre said in a statement.

"Yann had been with us for over 15 years and was loved by all who had the chance to know him."

Lamarre told CBC News that Arnaud was married and had two young daughters.

Cirque du Soleil cancelled its two Sunday performances and has said it is working with investigators.

Reached by phone, Lamarre said the group was offering support to its employees, many of whom are devastated by Arnaud's death.

"I explained to them that the show wouldn't restart until the whole team feels able to start back," he said, adding that psychologists had been sent to the site.

"In a case like this, the human element trumps the financial aspect. We have to give priority to employees."

While accidents are rare, it's not the first time that a Cirque du Soleil artist has died during a show.

In 2013, acrobat Sarah Guillot-Guyard died after falling more than 30 metres during a show in Las Vegas.

With files from HuffPost Canada