Kent Police probe into death of 'human cannonball'
- 26 April 2011
- From the section Kent
Detectives are leading the inquiry into the death of a "human cannonball" stuntman at a daredevil show.
The man, named locally as Matt Cranch, plunged to the ground after being fired from a cannon at the Kent County Showground at Detling.
The accident happened on Monday at Scott May's Daredevil Stunt Show. Witnesses said the safety net failed.
The 23-year-old, believed to be from Newquay and originally the Isle of Man, suffered multiple injuries.
He died at Maidstone Hospital.
Mr Cranch's parents have been informed and a post-mortem examination is due to take place later this week.
Ch Insp Steve Griffiths, of Kent Police, said: "We need to understand why this poor man died so that we can take the appropriate steps."
He said the Health and Safety Executive was being consulted.
The Daredevil Stunt Show will remain at the showground while police carry out their inquiries.
Scott May's show has been touring in the UK since 1991 in a season which runs from March to September.
As well as the human cannonball stunt, the show also includes pyrotechnics, motorcycle jumps and monster trucks.
Stunts UK Ltd, which is based in St Just, near Penzance, Cornwall, said it had cancelled all shows until further notice.
A statement on the Scott May website, run by Stunts UK Ltd, said: "Scott and the team are still reeling with shock and grief over the loss of their colleague and fellow stunt performer in the tragic accident at the show yesterday afternoon.
"Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time. We would like to thank the hundreds of people who have sent such kind messages of condolence."
Information on the company's website said explained how the human cannonball stunt worked.
It said the performer climbs a ladder, slides down a gigantic barrel and, once in position, signals to the crew and remains braced for an explosive propulsion.
Once in flight, the stunt performer turns in the air and lands in the safety net. Within seconds, the performer has to climb down from the net to finish the act.
The description said that while many seasoned performers could not cope with the claustrophobic conditions of the barrel, those who could were "highly respected for their courage and daring".
The Kent Event Centre, which manages the showground, said the show's organisers had visited the site before the event.
A spokesman said they had the necessary health and safety documentation and public liability insurance.
Roger Moore, the event centre's executive manager, said: "This is our first fatality at the Kent County Showground, despite the fact that we have in excess of 60 events in any calendar year."
He said that proceeds from the weekend's event would be donated to Kent Air Ambulance.
In a statement, Maidstone Borough Council said: "We are carrying out a health and safety investigation into this tragic incident.
"Our sympathy goes out to all the family and friends of the deceased and everyone who saw the incident.
"We will be looking to see if any breaches of health and safety occurred."