Cirque du Soleil Suspends Performances Following Worker Death

Performers in 'Luzia,' the Cirque du Soleil show in San Francisco. (Photo: Courtesy of Cirque du Soleil)

Update: 1 p.m. Tuesday: The cast and crew of Cirque du Soleil’s LUZIA announced that they will resume their regular performance schedule tonight, Tuesday, Dec. 6 at 8 p.m. In a statement, the company wrote: "Cirque du Soleil wishes to thank fans, friends, family members, the San Francisco community and the entire Cirque du Soleil family from around the world for their love and support through these difficult times."

Cal/OSHA, the state’s workplace safety agency, is investigating an accident that killed a worker at the Cirque du Soleil show Luzia in San Francisco Tuesday night.

“According to an outside source that reported it to Cal/OSHA, the maintenance worker was struck in the head by an aerial device," said Cal/OSHA public information officer Julia Bernstein.

The deceased employee, Olivier Rochette, was 42, and he was the son of Gilles Ste-Croix, one of the founders of the globetrotting, Montreal-based circus troupe. A statement released by Cirque du Soleil following the news of Rochette's death said his father has been informed of the accident.

“The entire Cirque du Soleil family is deeply saddened by the accidental death of Luzia technician, Olivier Rochette," said Cirque du Soleil CEO Daniel Lamarre in a statement released Wednesday. "Olivier has always been a member of our tight family and a beloved colleague."

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Cirque du Soleil frequently brings its spectacular productions to the Bay Area, and Bernstein said Cirque du Soleil has had a clean safety record in California over the last five years. The company has a reputation for high safety standards, albeit one marred by the death of an aerial acrobat during a performance in Las Vegas in 2013.

The accident has derailed the performance schedule for Luzia, which has received positive reviews from local critics.

Cirque du Soleil canceled Tuesday night's show after the accident, and announced a cancellation of Wednesday night's performance as well. "Cirque du Soleil will determine the status of tomorrow’s performances at a later time," the statement added.

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