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Man suing David Copperfield was ‘terrified’ during Las Vegas act

Updated May 1, 2018 - 6:50 pm

An exciting birthday celebration in Las Vegas turned dreadful for a British tourist who fell during a David Copperfield performance on the Strip, the man told jurors Tuesday.

Gavin Cox, who said he suffered a traumatic brain injury while participating in the magician’s “Lucky #13” illusion, described the November 2013 night he slipped as he was rushed outside of MGM Grand along with 12 other audience members.

“We were told to run as fast as we could,” said Cox, who sued Copperfield, the resort and others. “I had gone from being excited to terrified. I wasn’t expecting this.

“It was dark, I was running, and I didn’t have all my senses.”

District Judge Mark Denton told jurors that the alleged brain injury could affect Cox’s testimony, which lasted most of the day Tuesday.

Cox, 58, slipped in an area of the resort that was under construction as stagehands with flashlights guided him offstage and into dark walkways. He said he was surprised at how straightforward the activity behind the scenes seemed as a crowd watched Copperfield appear to make participants vanish from an elevated platform.

Before participating in the illusion, volunteers were asked if they could run.

“As I turned the corner as fast as I could, I feel my feet slip from underneath me,” he told jurors. “For a second, all of me is in midair. I hit the ground, and I felt a pain shoot through me like I’ve never, ever felt before. It was like a lightning bolt going through my shoulder and left-hand side.”

Cox said he regrets volunteering for the act.

His attorney, Benedict Morelli, asked Cox if he harbored any ill feelings toward Copperfield.

“I don’t hate him,” Cox said. “Anger’s not the word. Disappointed, let down, feeling that he didn’t care.”

During Cox’s testimony, Copperfield returned to the courtroom for the first time since last week.

Questions from defense attorneys appeared aimed at whether Cox had changed his story about the fall since a 2015 deposition.

On cross-examination, MGM Grand lawyer Jerry Popovich focused on details such as scuffs on Cox’s right shoe. Cox said he did not stub his toe and that his shoes were clean before he fell.

At one point, Copperfield’s lawyer, Elaine Fresch, asked Cox if he heard anyone else participating in the illusion say they were scared.

“No. It would be my assumption that they were too busy running,” he said.

Copperfield, who has stopped performing the illusion and has said he did not learn of Cox’s injuries until a year later, is expected to continue his testimony this week.

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Follow @randompoker on Twitter.

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