Over 300 people watched in horror as a human cannonball stunt ended terribly wrong Sunday afternoon during Scott May’s Daredevil Stunt Show at the Kent County Showground in the village of Detling.
The stunt man, Max the Manx Crank, plunged to his death when the safety net meant to catch his catapulted body collapsed. One onlooker, Luke Adams, 38, who was there with his children, said: “There was a loud bang and we saw the man shoot out. He attempted to do a forward roll and get into the foetal position but, somehow, all the tension in the safety net was lost and all the supports collapsed. He hit the ground head-first. It was horrible.”
Kent police confirmed the safety net failed to engage.
Max the Manx Crank’s real name is Matt, a 23-year-old from the Isle of Man. His family were notified immediately of the incident.
Since 1991, Scott May’s show has toured the UK, featuring motorcyclists jumping over giant ramps, monster truck car crushing and two-wheeled driving stunts. The human cannonball was one of the big highlights of the show. The show had been accident free for over 20 years, until now.
As explained on Scott May’s website, the human cannonball stunt uses hydraulics to catapult the stuntman from an oversized barrel after which he turns his body mid-air to bottom first in readiness to land safely in the netting. He must then get off the netting as quickly as possible before it collapses as the final part of the act.
During Sunday’s stunt, a woman watching the show with her three-year-old son recalled the moment when the netting failed to work; “He was right in front of us and had blood coming from his mouth and was out cold.” St. John’s ambulance rushed to the scene and air ambulance flew him to Maidstone Hospital where he later died.
Historically, 30 stuntmen have been killed performing this stunt since it’s appearance in the 1870s. It is not without its danger and Scott May’s website emphasizes that “many a seasoned stunt performer cannot cope with the claustrophobic conditions, and those who can are highly respected for ther courage and daring.”
A spokesman for Scott May confirmed all shows are cancelled until further notice while an inquiry is carried out to determine what went wrong.
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