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Disney Performer Dies From Head Injury

A performer at Disney's Hollywood Studios suffers a head injury and dies following a rehearsal for a stunt show.

WESH.com

A performer at Disney's Hollywood Studios who suffered a head injury during a show rehearsal Monday night has died.

Anislav Varbanov, 30, suffered head injuries during a tumbling roll in rehearsal for the "Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular," according to a Disney official and a statement from the Orange County Sheriff's Office obtained by WESH 2 News.

Security personnel called 911 shortly after 7:30 p.m., and paramedics rushed Varbanov to Florida Hospital-Celebration Health, where he was pronounced dead shortly before 9 p.m., according to the sheriff's office.

The stunt that killed Varbanov was a common one. Sources said that he landed on the mat, but hit his head.

"We have lost a valued cast member, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and co-workers as we mourn his passing," Disney officials said in a statement.

The Orange County Sheriff's Office, Reedy Creek Fire Department and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration were called to the studio.

The death was the third in recent weeks to Disney cast members. In July, a monorail pilot died when two trains collided. Earlier this month, a performer in a pirate show fell and broke his neck and later died from his injuries.

Disney and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will review and investigate the incident.

Is Disney's Reputation Tarnished?

It was Walt Disney's vision to build a theme park where excellence ruled and for decades that's been Disney's reputation. But Disney expert and Rollins College professor Rick Foglesong said three recent deaths of cast members put that reputation in jeopardy.

"One accident is a terrible thing and two surprising, but this is shocking to have three fatal accidents in a row. That seems like a trend," Foglesong said.

The latest death involved a stunt performer in the Indiana Jones show, and the union that represents the performers said it regularly checks for safety concerns. The union records reflect none.

"Not to my knowledge. If there had been things in the past they would have been addressed and fixed," Maria Somma of the Actors' Equity Association said.

Foglesong said the fact that Disney has had three employee deaths in just over a month rightly raises the question: Is the company getting sloppy with safety?

"We know that there have been cutbacks in the staff there and there are some stories from within the company about cutbacks in training and you wonder whether those kinds of cutbacks might have contributed to this spate of accidents," Foglesong said.

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