Monday, May 24, 1999 Published at 10:25 GMT 11:25 UK
Wrestler dies in freak accident
Paramedics attempt to revive Owen Hart
A professional wrestler has died after a stunt went tragically wrong during a pay-per-view event in Kansas City.
Owen Hart, a 33-year-old from Calgary, Alberta, who was wrestling under the name of "Blue Blazer" was being lowered from the ceiling of the Kemper Arena during the World Wrestling Federation's "Over The Edge" show when he plunged 50 feet into the ring.
Eyewitnesses believe that Hart hit his head on the padded metal turnbuckle of the wrestling ring before falling to the floor.
Hart was given CPR inside the ring as the announcer haltingly told the audience that the incident was not scripted. The wrestler was pronounced dead at a hospital.
"He was up on some scaffolding above the ring. They were going to lower him down on some sort of cable and apparently, the cable wasn't hooked up," said Jim Bradbury, spokesman for the local fire department,
Bradbury confirmed that although the father of two was rushed to the nearby Truman Medical Centre, the wrestler had died on impact.
Hart's wife Martha was informed of the tragedy by Vince McMahon Jr., the president of the WWF.
"I told him I didn't think he should do it. I didn't think it was safe. What would we do if anything happened to him?"
McMahon and other representatives of the WWF decided to continue with the show, and made this statement after the event.
"We at the WWF are saddened by the tragic accident that occurred here tonight.
"We have no answers as to how this happened yet. We will shortly."
Hart came from one of the great wrestling families. His father Stu was a mat legend during the 40s and 50s, while brother Bret is one of the most famous names in the business. David Smith, who wrestles in America under the moniker "British Bulldog", was his brother-in-law.
"I didn't see it, but from what I can gather, somebody slipped up. You don't get up 60 or 70 feet in the air without being properly anchored down," said Hart snr.
"I haven't talked to Vince McMahon yet, but somebody was careless or missed something or else Owen would still be here."
The popularity of the WWF has rocketed during the last year through the popularity of wrestlers such as 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin, The Undertaker and The Rock.
The company, which admits that their product is as much entertainment as sport, have adopted a much more adult style of broadcasting including obscenities, hand gestures and partial nudity.
This particular event was broadcast live on Sky Sports during the early hours of Monday morning, although Hart's tragic fall was not shown.