Acrobats hurt during hair-hanging stunt plan lawsuit, say their lives have forever changed

The Associated Press

Circus acrobats Julissa Segrera, second from left, of the United States, and Dayana Costa, right, of Brazil, are tearful as Costa reads a statement to members of the media at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Tuesday, June 17, 2014, in Boston. Eight acrobats were injured during a May 4 performance of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in Providence, R.I., when the apparatus from which they were suspended fell, sending them plummeting to the ground. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

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By PHIL MARCELO, Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) — Four of the acrobats seriously injured in a hair-hanging stunt gone awry are planning a lawsuit and are coming to terms with the idea their lives might never be the same, they said Tuesday from the hospital where they're recovering.

"My dream was to be a star performer," said Julissa Segrera, a 20-year-old American. "Now my dream is to be able to walk."

A total of eight acrobats from the U.S., Brazil, Bulgaria and Ukraine were injured May 4, when, investigators say, a carabiner clip snapped, sending them plummeting about 20 feet to the floor at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in Providence, Rhode Island.

Four of the women spoke Tuesday at a news conference at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, where a number are still undergoing physical therapy. For some it was their first public appearance since the accident.

They declined to detail the extent of their individual injuries, but three of the four were in wheelchairs and wore neck braces. Their lawyers said the performers had, collectively, experienced about two dozen surgeries.

Viktoriya Medeiros, 34, of Bulgaria, who designed the hair-hanging "human chandelier" act with her husband, said the women know they are lucky to be alive. She wore a neck brace and was in a wheelchair.

Dayana Costa, 26, of Brazil, said her family had put their lives on hold to be with her in Boston during the long recovery.

"I don't know what I'd do without them," she said through tears.

She wore a neck brace, had pins in her arms and was in a motorized chair. She said her recovery was difficult and painful.

The lawyers, of Chicago's Clifford Law Offices, declined to say who would be the focus of a lawsuit.

The women's medical treatment is being covered through workers compensation.

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