Twenty-nine-year-old Alexander "Sasha" Bondamenko is being treated for a broken jaw, broken leg and some fractures at Bay Medical Center. Bondamenko fell while performing an aerial act at the top of the big top tent that's 40 feet up.
The accident took place during the circus' 4:30 p.m. show Tuesday afternoon. Some witnesses say Bondamenko wasn't wearing a safety harness. Others say he was, but the harness broke.
Circus officials say they require performers to wear a harness, but they're looking into the accident.
"We need to know what happened. It could have been a harness malfunction or it could have been performer error on his part. We just don't know, but we're going to find out," says Bob Killard of the Cole Bros. Circus.
Bondamenko is a member of the Russian Air Force, and Killard says he loved his job at Cole Brothers. He also says each circus performer understands the risks of performing under the big top.
Bondamenko is expected to stay at Bay Medical for treatment for the next week, so the circus will go on without him, but the Shaddai Shriners have volunteered to give him a ride to the circus' next destination in south Florida.