Witness Recounts Terrifying Circus Performers Fall

INSIDE EDITION spoke with the circus audience member who witnessed an aerialist act turn to tragedy when a mechanism broke, sending the performers crashing to the ground.

They're the acrobats who spin high in the air, by their hair! Now, everyone is wondering what went wrong after the rigging holding eight women suddenly collapsed.

Aletha Wood shot video as she sat with her two children at the Ringling Brothers & Barnum and  Bailey Circus in Providence, Rhode Island, when the performers known as "hairialists" plummeted 35 feet to the ground.

Wood told INSIDE EDITION, "I thought it was part of the choreography, initially, for just split seconds. But after the impact moments later, as soon as the first responders came over the lift the metal off of the victims, it became very obvious that this was not something choreographed and that it was in fact, a real emergency."

Watch the Horrifying Accident Caught On Tape

The lights were turned off, and a screen was lowered in front of the injured women, who were loaded on to stretchers.

Sgt. Sean Carroll of the Rhode Island Police Department told reporters, "One of the girls looked up at me and very calmly, but sadly said, 'I can't feel my legs.' "

Hair hanging originated in South America and China. YouTube video shows how long hair is braided while wet and wrapped around metal rings.

The strength of hair is often underestimated. It turns out that a single strand of hair can support around a quarter of a pound. A healthy head of hair has 100,000 strands, which could support more than 20,000 pounds.

That doesn't mean it's not painful for the performers. Some have called hair hanging excruciating. And it takes a lot of dedication. Performers have to take special care of their hair—no blow-drying or chemicals. They even keep to a special diet with lots of hair-strengthening vitamins and food including eggs and avocado.

The performers in the accident suffered fractures, skull and back injuries and internal bleeding.