Before renowned acrobat and aerialist Nik Wallenda takes to the tightrope to walk across an active volcano in Nicaragua, let’s revisit his death-defying stunt from 2019 when he and his sister Lijana walked across Times Square in New York City.
The Times Square Walk Was More Complicated Than Most of Wallenda’s Walks
Nik Wallenda is known for his high-flying wire rope walks, but this was the first time he did one with his sister, Lijana. They are part of the seventh generation of the Flying Wallendas family of acrobats and aerialists. To make things even more dangerous during the Times Square walk, the two of them actually crossed over each other on the wire.
The two Wallenda siblings began the walk on opposite ends of the wire and then when they met in the middle, Lijana had to crouch down so that Nik could step over her. It added an extra level of danger and intensity to a situation that was already high-pressure and stressful.
On top of that, this was Lijana’s first wire walking stunt since a horrible accident left her with multiple broken bones.
In 2017, the Flying Wallendas Suffered a Terrible Fall
It would be hard to perform such death-defying stunts and never have a misstep or an accident, even for the seasoned professionals Flying Wallenda family.
In 2017, while performing at Circus Sarasota in Florida, the Flying Wallendas’ eight-person pyramid collapsed. Nik and two other performers were able to cling to the wire rope during the fall, but the other five members of the stunt were not so lucky and fell 30 feet to the ground below.
Four of those five were hospitalized with broken bones, Nik told CNN at the time, adding that his sister Lijana suffered the most serious injuries. Nik’s aunt Rietta also suffered serious injuries, left with a bad limp and one of her legs two inches shorter than the other, Nik’s grandmother Carla told the Sarasota Herald Tribune. Nik called it “without question” the “roughest day” of his life.
Lijana later told ABC News, “I broke a rib, punctured my right ear canal, broke clear through my left humerus, I broke my left calcareous. But the big one was every bone in my face.”
Dr. Alan Brockhurst, who was working at the trauma center when the performers were brought in, said that actually, the Wallendas are all very lucky it wasn’t much worse.
“They’re extremely lucky, given the height of the fall that they survived,” said Brockhurst.
As for the cause of the fall, circus officials said nothing happened to the rigging or equipment. Nik said that he thought one person in the pyramid may have fainted and Circus Arts Conservatory CEO Pedro Reis added that if one person loses his or her balance, that can bring the whole stunt down.
After the Times Square stunt, Lijana told Good Morning America that she felt like that stunt helped her conquer her fear after the 2017 accident.
“I feel like I conquered it. It didn’t consume me, the accident. I could have taken that fear from falling and never walked the wire again, I could have walked away. But I wouldn’t let that fear conquer me,” said Lijana.
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