Technician Who Died in San Francisco Was the Canadian Son of Cirque du Soleil Founder | NBC Bay Area
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Technician Who Died in San Francisco Was the Canadian Son of Cirque du Soleil Founder

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    The technician who died during the set-up of the Cirque du Soleil show "Luzia" in San Francisco was identified Wednesday by the company as the son of one of the company's founders. Stephanie Chuang reports. (Published Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016)

    The technician who died during the set-up of the Cirque du Soleil show "Luzia" in San Francisco was identified Wednesday by the company as the son of one of the company's founders.

    In a statement, the Montreal-based company said it was "deeply saddened" about the death of Olivier Rochette of Montreal, Quebec, whose father, Gilles Ste-Croix, helped found the company in 1984, which bills itself as "largest theatrical producer in the world."

    Cirque du Soleil performers wow and awe throughout the word with seemingly inhuman acrobatics, dancing and theatrics. Rochette's Facebook page shows what appears to be him standing on top of a huge cliff, his arms outspread to the sky earlier this month.

    "I am heartbroken," Cirque du Soleil CEO Daniel Lamarre said in a statement. "Olivier has always been a member of our tight-knit family and a truly beloved colleague."

    Just how Rochette died hasn't been fully explained, only that he was struck by a lift about 6:45 p.m. on Tuesday at the AT&T Park show in Lot A at Mission Rock and Third Street.

    Wednesday and Thursday shows were canceled, the company said, as was Tuesday night's.

    Cal-OSHA officials were at the scene early Wednesday morning. They have up to six months to complete their investigation, which will study whether the company followed mandatory safety procedures. Cal-OSHA's investigation consists of checks and tests on safety equipment and work equipment as well as ensuring workplace conditions met all safety standards.

    "The Cal-OSHA investigation is a very thorough process involving collection of evidence on scene ... as well as multiple interviews with witnesses, employees and managers," said Julia Bernstein, agency spokeswoman.

    Rochette's was the third death in the Cirque du Soleil family since 2009, according to federal work records and news reports.

    According to the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration records, Cirque du Soleil has four violations, including one death, cited in the last five years within the United States.

    The most notable was on June 29, 2013, when Sarah Guillot-Guyard died during a show in Las Vegas. She had fallen 94 feet in front of spectators after the wire attached to her safety harness shredded during the production of "Ka." She was the second death during a Cirque show.

    The first person to die on Cirque's watch was in 2009, the Guardian reported, when Ukrainian acrobat Oleksandr Zhurov, 24, died during a Montreal, Quebec rehearsal.

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    And just three days ago in Brisbane, Australia, acrobat Lisa Skinner was hospitalized, when she lost her grip on a ring during a "Kooza" performance, according to Courier Mail.

    The other U.S. violations OSHA has on record occurred in Florida in October, and two others in Nevada, in 2013 and 2014.

    Cirque du Soleil had zero violations in California over the last five years, according to OSHA records.

    Emilia Flockhart was supposed to have attended Tuesday night's show, but couldn't because of the death. She told NBC Bay Area that "people were of course disappointed, but the atmosphere was generally OK and met with understanding."

    Contact Lisa Fernandez at lisa.fernandez@nbcuni.com or 408-432-4758. Follow on Twitter at @ljfernandez