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Aerialist injured in fall during Beverly Center performance

The woman was hospitalized after falling an estimated 40 feet and hurting her wrist and pelvis. The promotional holiday show is scheduled to resume Friday.

November 30, 2009|By Tony Barboza
  • Aerialists gave a preview of their holiday show earlier this month at the Beverly Center.
Aerialists gave a preview of their holiday show earlier this month at the… (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles…)

An aerialist performing during a holiday show at the Beverly Center mall was injured and hospitalized after falling to the shopping center floor, authorities said Sunday.

One witness said the performer appeared to fall about 40 feet -- from the third level of the shopping center to the first.

The 26-year-old woman slipped while hanging upside down from a solid metal hoop suspended from the ceiling during the finale of the show "Hunky Santa and the Candy Cane Girls" Saturday evening, said Ray Pierce, owner of Hollywood Aerial Arts, the firm putting on the performance.

She managed to turn herself right side up before falling into a video projection cube and injuring her wrist and pelvis. She was not wearing a harness, and there were no nets to break her fall, Pierce said.

"She's a total pro. For some reason she slipped in this one move," he said.

Los Angeles firefighters responded at 6:15 p.m. Saturday to a report of a woman having fallen at the shopping center in the 8500 block of Beverly Boulevard and took her to a hospital.

Susan Vance, marketing and sponsorship director for the mall, called the fall an "isolated incident."

"She's been evaluated and is doing well," she said. "These are all world-class performers. They do this all the time. It was a human error, basically."

The woman fell as hundreds of shoppers looked on. The high-flying maneuvers made some onlookers nervous enough to avert their eyes.

"What if the girl falls? It could be tragic," said Bill Buchanan of Marina del Rey, who was watching a football game in view of the acrobats when the accident happened. "I tried to avoid looking at it just in case. What if the unthinkable happens? And that's what happened."

Once paramedics arrived, the performer was taken out on a stretcher. When the audience saw she was smiling, they applauded.

The show, which began Friday as a holiday promotion to boost sales, features aerial performers wearing sparkly red outfits, who are suspended up to 80 feet in the air inside the mall.

Pierce said the aerialist had been with the company for five years and had performed around the globe for 15 years. He declined to give her name.

He said the firm would be reviewing tapes of the performance, which was halted after the accident.

A total of 60 performances were planned. Pierce said they would resume Friday.

tony.barboza@latimes.com

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