Abseiler injured in 14-metre fall

AMY MAAS AND BRIDGET JONES
Last updated 17:16 06/12/2011
Aotea Square performers
DOUG RICHARDS

SKY HIGH: Two of the performers from the Vertical Pedestrians installation rehearsing at the Metro Centre in Aotea Square.

Abseiling incident: Woman's condition

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The father of a woman who fell 14 metres in an abseiling accident in Auckland's Aotea Square has said it is a "miracle" she survived.

LATEST: Mikaela Blayney was hurt after falling from the Metro Centre where she was performing in a Vertical Pedestrians show as part of Random Acts - a series of street performances.

The 20-year-old was taken to Auckland City hospital around 11.30am still conscious.

Her father, Don Blayney, told 3News she suffered a suspected shattered cheek bone and a "nasty" cut underneath her chin. She is awaiting a CT scan.

"It's a miracle she's alive," he said.

Just after the accident, an ambulance spokesperson said Blayney suffered a broken jaw and was in a lot of pain with a sore neck and pelvis, but she was alert and able to move her legs.

The woman was performing as part of the Random Acts festival when she fell from the cinema building in front of a small crowd.

A witness to the accident said the woman, who was dressed as a mermaid, was halfway up the wall when she fell.

Two men were above her, lowering and raising her and another performer, who were attached by ropes.

One witness, Karel Chabera said: "The rope just fell. She was still harnessed in and the rope was tied to her.

"I don't know how they could have dropped her but they did.

"I went and had a look and they had rolled her over to the recovery position. She was just really still.

"Later she was all braced up. I think she was awake." 

He said the other performers were "pretty stressed out, freaked out by it".

"There were families around at the time... it's really, really sad," he said.

Witness Jacob Parsons said: "It's real surreal. Pretty dark.

"No-one's gone back up since. There were a whole lot of people up the top but they haven't gone back up."

Random Acts street festival, featuring an aerial theatre show, giant puppets, markets and music performances, started today and runs until December 11.

Paul Brewer, spokesman for Regional Facilities Auckland, says the festival will go ahead as planned. 

"Obviously there will be a full OSH investigation but Random Acts is a series of different music and street theatre events and this is one of many."

Brewer says promoters are satisfied with plans to ensure the safety of other performers taking part in Random Acts.

The Department of Labour is investigating the incident.

All eight Random Acts events are run by separate companies.

The woman was part of the Vertical Pedestrians installation co-ordinated by Co Theatre Physical.

Performers leap and somersault down the building dressed as different characters, such as couriers, a bride and groom, night clubbers and business people.

See a video of their performance here.

* Top photo supplied by http://dougnz.deviantart.com/.

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