SARASOTA (FOX 13) - Five performers were injured after falling more than 20 feet from a tightrope Wednesday during practice for an upcoming Circus Sarasota show.
Famed wire-walker Nik Wallenda was involved, but not hurt. Some of his family members, however, were not as lucky.
The call came in just before 1 p.m., alerting authorities that multiple people had fallen from a tightrope at University Town Center.
Circus officials said one of the performers likely lost their balance on the tightrope, causing a chain reaction.
According to family member Rick Wallenda, his cousins Nik and Blake Wallenda were two of three people who caught the wire when they fell. Five others, including Rick's sister Rietta and cousin Lijana, who is also the sister of Nik Wallenda, hit the ground.
"My sister has a very badly broken hip. She's going to need surgery, probably Monday," said Wallenda, who added that his sister also suffered a fractured shoulder. "Nik's sister is hurt pretty bad. She's got a broken jaw in three places, lacerated liver, ankle, arm, you know, a bunch of broken bones."
According to Circus Sarasota officials, none of the performers suffered life-threatening injuries.
The pyramid stunt was supposed to be the finale for Friday's circus opening. Officials said it's unclear what will replace the performance, but in true performer fashion, the show will go on.
The Wallenda family has faced tragedy in the past due to high-risk performances without safety nets or harnesses. In 1983, Karl Wallenda, the grandfather of Rick Wallenda and great-grandfather of Nik, fell 100 feet to his death performing a wire act in Puerto Rico.
Rick Wallenda said his family's history and Wednesday's accident will not stop him from performing a charity walk planned for Saturday, February 11, across the plaza of the St Petersburg Sundial.
"It's not just my family, it's a tradition in the circus. People are expecting to see a show, so we're going to do the show," said Wallenda.