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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 August, 2003, 11:10 GMT 12:10 UK
Inquiry after circus performer dies
Eva Garcia
Eva Garcia was an experienced circus performer
An investigation has begun after a circus performer fell more than 20 feet to her death in front of a crowd of 800 people.

Eva Garcia, 38, was just starting her act at the historic Hippodrome Circus in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, for Friday night's show at about 2000 BST, when the accident happened.

Ms Garcia was descending from the rigging area in the roof above the circus ring when she appeared to lose her grip on the wire above her head and plunged to the ground, Norfolk police said.

The experienced performer, who came from a circus family, was taken to the James Paget Hospital, Gorleston, where she later died.

Peter Astle, from Norfolk's environmental health department, inspected the scene.

Great Yarmouth front
The performer died later in hospital

He removed a piece of equipment called a "descender" - which is used to carry performers down from the rigging - for further examination.

Circus owners Peter and Christine Jay paid tribute to Ms Garcia, from Birmingham, saying she was "a fantastic artist".

Mrs Jay said it was not yet clear what had happened.

"We believe that she had actually got on it the descender and was coming down on it.

"But it just happened so quickly, it's just so sketchy."

Mrs Jay said the performance was meant to have been a showcase of the best of the acts that had appeared with the circus over recent years.

"We're all friends and have all worked together before - it's a very close show. We all go out together," she said.

The circus cast
The close knit cast has been devastated by the loss

"We are just all in shock at the moment.

"She was very experienced. She started in the circus at the age of seven. She was so fit and strong - such a fantastic artist.

"All the artists are very upset about it. It's a very close knit company.

"We are going to cancel the shows over the weekend to deal with the shock and then resume on Monday."

The Hippodrome Circus is the last remaining purpose-built circus structure still in use in Britain.

Built in 1903 by George Gilbert, it celebrates its Centenary this year.



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