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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Horrified families looked on as a human cannonball was killed when his safety net failed during an Easter Holiday extravaganza.

Sulaiman Kamal | 4:32 PM | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | Best Blogger Tips

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Horrified families looked on as a human cannonball was killed when his safety net failed during an Easter Holiday extravaganza.


The stuntman suffered catastrophic head and neck injuries when he hit the ground in front of a huge crowd at the Kent County Showground. Eyewitnesses said the stuntman was fired up to 50ft in the air as part of Scott May’s Daredevil Stunt Show. But the recoil from the massive barrel, which is attached to a 7.5 ton truck, appeared to make his safety net collapse. Luke Adams, 38, who was watching the show with his children, said onlookers were stunned and confused by the accident as they did not know if it was part of the show.  He said: ‘It was absolutely horrendous. The net collapsed while he was in the air. As the cannon went bang the truck recoiled.  ‘As it moved I could see the net drop to the ground. ‘He landed on the grass head first and continued to roll forward but then stayed on his back motionless.’
Another woman, who watched the show with her three-year-old son, described how the stuntman landed directly in front of her. She said: ‘He was right in front of us and had blood coming from his mouth and was out cold.’St John’s Ambulance medics rushed to the man’s side before an air ambulance and paramedics arrived at the showground in Detling, near Maidstone, at around 3.30pm. The injured man, named only as Matt –who was aged 23 and said to be from the Isle of Man – was taken to Maidstone Hospital but died a short time later. The family-owned Scott May’s Daredevil Stunt show, based in St Just, Cornwall, has been touring the UK since 1991. It features motorcyclists jumping over giant ramps, stunts in which monster trucks crush cars and a two-wheeled driving display. The show’s website boasts there has never been an accident in more than 20 years and urges spectators to obey safety instructions. The human cannonball is one of the show’s highlights.
A stuntman is fired from an oversized barrel by the explosive power of hydraulic machinery, with pyrotechnics added to increase the drama. Once in the air, the performer aims to turn from his head-first position to land on the safety netting bottom first. He must then scramble off the netting, which is about 10ft off the ground, before it collapses as the final part of the act. The show’s website said those who undertake the stunt are ‘highly respected for their courage and daring’. A spokesman for Scott May said all shows had been cancelled until further notice while an inquiry was carried out into what went wrong. And a Kent Police spokesman said: ‘A man taking part in a human cannonball event this afternoon has died after it is believed a safety net failed to engage.’ The first human cannonball act took place in England in the 1870s. Since then more than 30 stuntmen have been killed while performing, mostly by missing the net.

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