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Investigators probe Cirque du Soleil death in Las Vegas

By Timothy Pratt

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - Federal occupational safety officials are investigating the death of a performer during Cirque du Soleil's "KA" show at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Cirque officials said on Monday.

"KA" performances also were canceled until further notice. No details about the investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration were immediately disclosed and agency officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Authorities have not said how Sarah Guyard-Guillot, 31, was killed during a Saturday night performance of "KA." Local media, citing witnesses, reported she fell during the final scene.

During that scene, the stage is vertical and performers engage in battle about 70 feet high while wearing safety harnesses attached to a cable.

It was the second accident to befall Cirque in less than a week. Last Wednesday, a performer in the company's Las Vegas production of "Michael Jackson One" suffered a mild concussion after falling about 5 feet, a Cirque spokesman said.

Audience members told Las Vegas media that they thought Guyard-Guillot's fall was part of the show, but quickly discovered otherwise when the show was halted.

Aryan Rahmati, who was sitting in the center of the audience, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal: "The person who fell was flailing her arms. She didn't look like she was in control of her body."

Like many of the hundreds of Cirque performers and employees in Las Vegas, Guyard-Guillot also used her skills to work in the community, teaching at a school called Cirquefit, a Las Vegas program for children.

A biography on the firm's website said Guyard-Guillot was a native of Paris and graduate of the Annie Fratellini Art & Circus Academy where she specialized as an acrobat.

On Sunday afternoon, the school announced: "Due to unforeseen circumstances, all current sessions, camps, etc., are canceled until further notice."

A memorial website, www.forsasoun.com, was established for Guyard-Guillot, who was the mother of children aged 8 and 5, according to the Las Vegas Sun.

Cirque du Soleil's Facebook page was filled with condolences, as more than 2,000 people had shared news of the performer's death by Monday afternoon.

(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Bill Trott)

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