Injured circus performers break silence amid recovery

BOSTON, Mass. (WPRI) — Four circus performers injured in a terrifying accident in Providence last month held an emotional news conference Tuesday to update the public on their recovery and to thank everyone for their well wishes.

Viktoria Medeiros, Svitlana Balanicheva, Julissa Segrera, and Dayana Costa each gave tearful statements at Spaulding Rehabilitation Center in Boston.

The acrobats were of the eight seriously injured when they fell nearly 30 feet to the floor during an aerial act at a performance at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center on May 4.

The performers have since gone through more than two dozen surgeries combined, not to mention the psychological damage caused by the fall.

The goal for all eight was to one day perform again, but for some it was a career-ending accident.

“My dream was to be a star performer. Now my dream is to get up and walk,” said Segrera. “I will walk one day so I can take my one-and-a-half-year-old son to a park.”

Bulgarian Viktoria Medeiros, while sitting in a wheelchair and wearing a neck brace, said she will not be able to return as a result of her injuries.

“I cannot talk for the other girls, but for me, my dream is just done,” she said.

The 13-year veteran of the circus said the group is trying to come to terms with knowing they’ll never be the same. The women suffered various injuries to their necks, spines, and limbs, and have been going through painful rehabilitation to learn how to walk or use their arms again.

The women were joined by attorneys Thomas Prindable and Michael Krzak from Clifford Law Offices, the Chicago-based law firm which recently signed on to provide legal representation to seven of the eight that were hurt.

Both the performers and their attorneys praised Rhode Island Hospital for their readiness and the emergency surgery performed after the fall, and for the care they provided in the following days.

“I can’t say enough about the medical facility at Rhode Island Hospital, how they called in surgeons to cope with these six very seriously injured young ladies,” Prindable said. “Two of the spinal fractures were so bad and so emergent that the doctors literally did two surgeries at the same time on the girls to make sure to give them a chance to be able to walk again ”

Providence police have said they believe a 4- to 5-inch steel carabiner clip at the top of the apparatus snapped. It was found in three pieces on the ground with its spine snapped.

The attorneys said their process has been hindered because they haven’t been able to access the carabiner in question or any other items involved in the case due to the ongoing investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

They also said it’s too early to determine who will be named in any future lawsuits.

Eyewitness News learned this isn’t the first high-profile case for Clifford Law Offices. The firm said they were involved in litigation stemming from the September 11 terrorist attacks, they secured a record $110 million settlement for families of the victims of the 1994 crash of American Eagle flight 4148 in Indiana, and another $75 million for victims injured when scaffolding collapsed at the John Hancock Building in Chicago, among others.

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