Circus Acrobat Plunges 12 Feet to the Ground in 'Horrific' Accident

An experienced circus acrobat fell some 12 feet to the ground in a "horrific" accident witnessed by numerous families with children.

Jackie Louise Armstrong was performing her aerial act in the Zippos Circus Christmas show at the Winter Wonderland attraction in London's Hyde Park on Sunday.

But during a routine in the 6 p.m. Circus Berserk show, 35-year-old Armstrong slipped from her harness and fell around 12 feet to the ground, a Zippos Circus spokesperson told Newsweek.

Armstrong was treated at the scene by paramedics and then taken to hospital, but the extent of her injuries isn't yet known, the spokesman added.

The audience was asked to leave following the accident and offered tickets to a later performance on Sunday evening.

"Zippos Circus can confirm that an aerial artist fell during the 6 p.m. performance of Cirque Berserk at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland," the spokesperson said.

"The female British artist, Jackie Armstrong, performs an aerial act and is a highly experienced circus artist with 10 years in the ring. Jackie was immediately attended to on the scene by first aiders and an ambulance called.

"She was taken to hospital by ambulance and further information on the nature of her injuries is awaited."

There were many children in the audience who saw Armstrong's fall, The Sun reported. "It was horrific. I thought it was part of the act but when she didn't get back up I knew something was wrong," a witness told the newspaper.

The witness added: "I thought I heard her scream or wail, so hopefully she is conscious. But it looked terrible. People in the audience were coming out crying."

In a statement to Newsweek, circus founder and director Martin Burton said: "Jackie is a very experienced artist whom we value dearly as part of our circus family.

"Clearly we are concerned and offering her and her family our full support and sympathy at this time. At this stage we cannot comment further as we have no information on any injuries she may have sustained."

Armstrong, who is from Kent, U.K., is an experienced acrobat with more than a decade's worth of experience. She joined Zippos Circus after graduating from Christchurch University in Canterbury, U.K., according to Kent Online.

In an interview with the website last month, she spoke of how she met her partner Valter, a motorcycle stunt rider who is part of Zippo's daring Globe of Death act, in 2011 after she joined Zippos Circus. The pair have a one-year-old daughter, Lexie.

She also spoke of how she juggles her demanding job with caring for her daughter on the road with the circus.

"If I'm in the ring one of the dancers will have Lexie backstage," she told Kent Online. "Or if me and Valter want to go out on a date night you've got five other people who will look after Lexie. So it's not just us in our family, it's everyone."

Jackie Armstrong
Jackie Armstrong was rushed to hospital after falling during her aerial act in the Zippos Circus Christmas show at Winter Wonderland in London's Hyde Park. Zippos Circus