Man dies in human cannonball stunt
Hundreds of people including many young children looked on in horror as a "human cannonball" stuntman plunged to his death at a daredevil show.
The 23-year-old man died after a safety net failed during the Scott May's Daredevil Stunt Show at the Kent County Showground in Detling.
Witnesses estimated that the stuntman had been launched 30 to 40ft into the air by the cannon. The safety net lay flat on the ground as he fell head-first to his death.
Rob Hutchinson, 42, watched with his wife and two young children as the human cannonball 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 30 or 40ft in the air at least. 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 estimated that the crowd had numbered around 2,000 people including several hundred children.
The programme and website for the Scott May Daredevil Stunt Show describe how the safety net for the Human Cannonball is designed to collapse within seconds of the performer landing on it. The website says: "The stunt performer climbs the ladder and slides down to the deep dark depths of the gigantic barrel. Many a seasoned stunt performer cannot cope with the claustrophobic conditions, and those who can are highly respected for their courage and daring."
A Kent Police spokesman said: "A man taking part in a human cannonball event this afternoon has died after it is believed a safety net failed to engage. He was taken to Maidstone General Hospital but died shortly afterwards. His next-of-kin have been informed but he has yet to be formally identified."
A statement on the Scott May website states: "With our apologies, due to unforeseen circumstances all shows have been cancelled until further notice."
Scott May's Daredevil Stuntshow has been touring in the UK since 1991 and features motorbike and monster trunk stunts.