Cirque’s Las Vegas ‘O’ Show Gets OSHA Investigation After Diver Breaks Neck

Posted on: July 5, 2023, 11:59h. 

Last updated on: July 6, 2023, 09:46h.

“O,” the  Cirque du Soleil show at the Bellagio on the Las Vegas Strip, is under investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the US Department of Labor agency responsible for overseeing workplace safety. The investigation, first revealed by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, follows the serious injury of “O” performer Kyle Mitrione on June 28.

Former champion diver Kyle Mitrione
Former champion diver Kyle Mitrione reportedly broke his neck while performing a back dive on stage during Cirque du Soleil’s “O” show at the Bellagio Las Vegas on June 28. (Image: Facebook)

Mitrione, a former champion platform diver, smacked his head against a set piece that rose from the show’s aquatic stage while attempting a back dive during “O’s” 9:30 p.m. Wednesday show, according to the R-J. The accident occurred during a routine inserted into the show two weeks earlier. Mitrione was treated on stage and transported from the theater to an area hospital.

Though an announcement informed the shocked and concerned audience that Mitrione was OK, according to the R-J, the performer ended up breaking his neck and requiring five hours of emergency surgery. The newspaper stated that Mitrione is now “conscious and aware of what happened,” but that no more is known about his condition or prognosis.

R-J entertainment columnist John Katsilometes reported receiving an email from Cirque spokesperson Ann Paladie, which stated: “Out of respect for Kyle, and to ensure compliance with applicable medical privacy laws, we are not able to share details about his personal health condition. But please be assured that we are providing the best possible care and support for him as well as his family.”

That night’s “O” show continued following a brief pause and the production hasn’t missed a single scheduled performance since the incident, according to the R-J.

OSHA has up to six months to issue a citation if it finds Cirque at fault for Mitrione’s injury.

The Cirque spokesperson told Katsilometes that Cirque is “cooperating fully with OSHA” and that it is “hiring an external consultant to do our own internal investigation as well.”

The R-J report noted that two senior Cirque officials, company senior manager Tony Ricotta and artistic director Pierre Parisien, were placed on leave from the show and have already been replaced because of the incident.

Circus of Pain

The incident happened a day short of the 10-year anniversary of the only on-stage fatality suffered during one of Cirque’s Las Vegas Strip productions. On June 29, 2013, a cable connecting “Ka” performer Sarah Guyard-Guillot to her harness snapped, plunging the French acrobat almost 100 feet from the show’s rotating vertical stage to her death in a pit.

In 2014, another “O” acrobat fell 15 feet while dismounting from a swiveling swing apparatus, breaking his back and ribs, and suffering damage to his kidney and lungs. A few months later, a “Beatles Love” acrobat plunged 20 feet to the stage during the show’s closing number, suffering internal injuries.

Cirque’s water-themed “O” opened at the Bellagio in 1998.