Cirque du Soleil Nevada and the MGM Grand hotel-casino on Tuesday were cited for a total of nine safety and record-keeping violations in the death this summer of an aerialist during a performance of “Ka.”
The Nevada Occupational Safety and Health Administration said Cirque du Soleil performer Sarah Guillot-Guyard also was somewhat responsible for the accident that claimed her life, saying her “rapid ascent” in the show’s high-energy climax played a role in the equipment failure June 29.
Guillot-Guyard, 31, died when the wire rope from which she was suspended broke, causing her to fall 94 feet. She landed below the stage floor, out of the view of the audience.
She was pronounced dead at University Medical Center’s Trauma Unit from multiple blunt-force injuries.
Teri Williams, public information officer for the Department of Business and Industry, called the violations “fairly minor in the number of violations cited.”
The companies have the right to appeal. Cirque du Soleil is facing more than $25,000 in fines, while MGM Grand is facing a $7,000 fine.
According to a statement from OSHA, the wire rope was severed as a result of the rapid ascent of the performer, ultimately causing it to come free from the sheave/pulley and scrape against a shear point.
Performers wore a harness equipped with hand controls to help steer the guide wires.
Guillot-Guyard was performing as one of several Battle Spearmen Warriors in a mock battle scene during the second of two nightly performances of “Ka” when the accident occurred.
The climactic battle scene, with rival warriors suspended from cables on a vertical wall nearly 120 feet in the air, was removed from the show until the accident investigation was concluded.
Cirque du Soleil spokeswoman Renee-Claude Menard said Tuesday that nothing in the citations required any change to the battle scene, but that the company is nonetheless making “technical adjustments” before reintroducing it to the show.
The changes will be “more in line with 2013 available technical possibilities that enable us to change technical accessibility,” Menard said, but will not affect the artistic content of the show.
Instead of replacing the scene with another involving action or acrobatics, the show currently uses a sequence that helps conclude the story, with its two main characters outfitted in ceremonial robes.
Menard said “Ka” has returned to the attendance levels it had before the accident.
After a four-month investigation, OSHA cited Cirque du Soleil with six citations for safety violations and the MGM Grand, where “Ka” is performed, with three citations for safety violations.
Asked Tuesday about the status of the battle sequence, Menard said in an email, “We are still working on it even if there is nothing in the citations that require any change.”
In a statement issued from the company’s corporate offices in Montreal, Menard said an appeal of the findings had been “initiated” as part of OSHA’s administrative protocol.
“Cirque du Soleil completed an exhaustive review of its safety policies and procedures in the wake of the tragic accident involving Sarah,” Menard said.
“We have redoubled our efforts to ensure the overall diligence and safety of our performers and crew. We have received and reviewed the OSHA citations. Safety always has been the top priority for Cirque du Soleil, its performers and crew members.”
Menard previously said the accident was the first onstage fatality in the company’s 29-year history.
Guillot-Guyard, a mother of two, had been with the original cast of “Ka” since 2006. According to Cirque du Soleil, the Paris native was an acrobatic performer for more than 20 years.
She also was the head coach at Cirquefit, a program that offers acrobatic fitness classes for children.
MGM Resorts International, which operates the MGM Grand, also will appeal the findings.
“Safety always has been the top priority for both MGM Resorts and Cirque du Soleil and we continue to work to ensure the safety of our cast and crew,” MGM Resorts Executive Vice President Alan Feldman said in a statement.
According to OSHA, Cirque du Soleil was cited for not protecting “Ka” performers from striking an overhead grid during the show and for not providing proper training for the “employee involved in the accident.”
The performance troupe also was cited for not properly assessing the workplace for hazards that required protective equipment in the Ka Theater.
OSHA also said Cirque du Soleil removed equipment from the fatality site before OSHA authorized removal.
MGM Grand was cited for three charges similar to those brought against Cirque du Soleil, including deficiencies in hazard assessments in the Ka Theater.
Review-Journal entertainment writer Mike Weatherford contributed to this report. Contact reporter Howard Stutz at email@example.com or 702-477-3871. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.