Cirque du Soleil cancels San Francisco shows after fatal accident

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Cirque du Soleil “Luzia” has canceled its San Francisco shows through Friday and hired psychologists to counsel cast and crew members in the wake of an accident that killed a technician earlier this week, officials said Thursday.

But the show in town for another eight weeks will go on.

Cirque du Soleil Chief Executive Officer Daniel Lamarre said Olivier Rochette, 42, of Quebec, Canada, was killed Tuesday night when a moveable aerial lift, sitting on a slope in the big tent, toppled over and hit Rochette in the head. He had worked with the show for more than 20 years, Lamarre said.

“It’s a tragedy for sure,” Lamarre said. “The entire community of Cirque du Soleil is right now in mourning.”

Rochette, the father of four children, is the son of Gilles Ste-Croix, one of the founders of Cirque du Soleil.

Lamarre said he will reopen the show once psychologists say that the cast and crew are ready.

“I wanted to communicate to our cast and crew that I’m not going to decide when we are going to go back on stage,” Lamarre said. “A staff of psychologists will evaluate daily how people are reacting. The experts will tell us.”

Police and investigators with the state’s workplace safety regulator are investigating the accident. The show’s internal health and safety experts are also reviewing the incident and workplace safety standards.

“We are going to evaluate the situation, understand what happened, and if there are recommendations for us to enhance the safety measures, we will,” Lamarre said. “The reality is an accident is an accident, and it’s very unfortunate.”

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