‘Human Cannonball’ Plunges to His Death in Britain

  • Share
  • Read Later
Elsa/Getty Images

A lady cannonball is fired from the Nestle Butterfinger's Human Cannon on August 16, 2002 in this file photo

Hundreds of people witnessed a stuntman plunge to his death during an Easter Bank Holiday show in the U.K. on Monday.

The human cannonball hasn’t been named but the tragic event took place at the Kent County Showground in Detling, which is just outside London.

(More on TIME.com: See TIME’s Evil Knievel appreciation)

Eyewitnesses said the stuntman was fired up to 50ft in the air as part of Scott May’s Daredevil Stunt Show. Luke Adams was watching with his children, and explained that onlookers were not only shocked but also confused because they didn’t know whether it was part of the show. “It was absolutely horrendous,” he told the Daily Mail. “The net collapsed while he was in the air. As the cannon went bang the truck recoiled … He landed on the grass head first and continued to roll forward but then stayed on his back motionless.”

The 23-year-old stuntman was taken to Maidstone Hospital by air ambulance with multiple head and back injuries. The crowd was thought to number about 2,000 people, which included several hundred children. Inspector Tony Ball, of Kent Police, said the force was investigating, the Health and Safety executive had been informed and Maidstone Borough Council would also be involved. The British Press Association, citing police, said a safety net failed to engage.

A police spokesman said that the dead man’s next-of-kin had been informed though he hasn’t been formally identified as of yet other than it being confirmed that he was in his 20’s.

Scott May’s show has been touring in the U.K. since 1991 in a season which runs from March to September. The show’s website mentions that there has never been an accident in more than 20 years. Sadly, that record has come to an end in the worst way imaginable. And a statement on the site now says that all shows had been canceled “until further notice.”

(More on TIME.com: See pictures of David Blaine’s most famous stunts)