'Human cannonball' killed in Kent stunt show

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Media captionInsp Tony Ball from Kent Police said an audience was present when the incident happened

A "human cannonball" stuntman plunged to his death in an accident seen by hundreds of people at a daredevil show.

Police said a safety net gave way during the stunt at the Kent County Showground at Detling.

The man, 23, had been taken to Maidstone Hospital by air ambulance with multiple head and back injuries.

The accident happened on Monday afternoon at Scott May's Daredevil Stunt Show. Witnesses said the man was launched up to 40ft in the air.

Rob Hutchinson, 42, watched with his wife and two young children as the man came out to perform his stunt to close the first half of the show.


Mr Hutchinson, a driving instructor from Tenterden, Kent, said: "The net was already up. He climbed out on top, climbed down into the tube, they gave this countdown then he came out of the tube - he was probably 30ft or 40ft in the air at least.

Image caption Scott May's show has been touring in the UK since 1991

"He turned over and then, the last picture I've got of him, you can see the net is flat on the floor, not up in the air, and he is coming down head-first towards the ground. I saw him hit the floor and bounce."

Mr Hutchinson added: "It was like a dummy being thrown..."

He said the crowd had numbered about 2,000 people, including several hundred children.

Another witness, Paul Armstrong, said he thought the stuntman had been "elevated to about 30ft in the air".

Not identified

He said: "When he was approaching the safety net it seemed to collapse to the ground before he hit it."

Insp 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.

A police spokesman said the dead man, who is understood to come from the Isle of Man, had not been formally identified.

His next-of-kin have been informed.

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.

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