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Cirque du Soleil show founder's son killed in accident

42-year-old Olivier Rochette.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Officials say a technician with the Cirque du Soleil “Luzia” show who died after being hit in the head by an aerial lift Tuesday is the son of one of the founders of the show.

In a statement from Cirque du Soleil, officials confirmed that 42-year-old Olivier Rochette, of Quebec, Canada, died Tuesday night in San Francisco. 


According to the statement, his immediate family, including his father Gilles Ste-Croix, one of the founders of Cirque du Soleil, has been informed of the accident.

Police say officers with San Francisco Police Department Traffic Collision Investigation Unit and investigators with the state’s workplace safety regulator, Cal/OSHA, are investigating.

Julia Bernstein of Cal/OSHA said Wednesday that the employee was struck in the head by an aerial device. The agency had no further information.

The Tuesday and Wednesday night shows were canceled. 

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Cirque du Soleil’s “Luzia” tent in San Francisco was the site of a fatal accident involving the performing arts group’s employees, Nov. 29, 2016. 

CBS SF Bay Area

CBS San Francisco reported, that in the late 1970s, Ste-Croix was living in a commune in Victoriaville, Quebec, picking apples to make money. One day he mused that the job would be a whole lot easier if he could attach the ladder to his legs—and devised his first set of stilts. 

A friend happened to mention the Bread and Puppet Theater in nearby Vermont, which used stilt-walking as the basis of many of its performances. Ste-Croix went to see the company and realized that his apple-picking skills might actually be in demand in the wider world of entertainment.

In 1980, Ste-Croix and a band of street artists founded the Échassiers de Baie-Saint-Paul and organized a street performance festival called the Fête foraine de Baie-Saint-Paul, which would eventually lead to the founding of Cirque du Soleil with Guy Laliberté in 1984.