By JEFF RUDE
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – The FBR Open, the party of all parties on the PGA Tour, didn’t get off to its usual festive start. Rather, just the opposite: Sadness.
Aerial acrobat Jose Angel Vera-Alcaraz, 31, died Tuesday night after falling during the early stages of the FBR Opening Dinner at the Birds Nest. Organizers canceled the rest of the dinner.
The performer, who used the stage name Angel Vera, received immediate medical attention and was transported to Scottsdale Osborn Hospital by emergency medical personnel. He was later pronounced dead.
Vera-Alcaraz fell 15 to 20 feet and landed headfirst while performing a Cirque du Soleil-type performance in which the man unravels his body from a sash while suspended in the air. There was no safety net.
Vera died about 35 minutes after falling on his head.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Angel’s friends and family,” said 2009 FBR Open tournament chairman John Felix. “From all indications, this was a horrible accident.”
Tatayana Petruk, like Vera-Alcaraz a member of the Aerial Artistry Entertainment group, called him a wonderful performer who enjoyed his work.
“He created his act, used his own equipment and did his own rigging. He was a perfectionist who had been performing since he was 16.”
Scottsdale police Sgt. Mark Clark said witnesses were “absolutely stunned” by the fatal fall. He said investigators do not suspect foul play or criminal or mechanical issues.
Veteran journalist Jeff Williams, of Newsday and Cigar Aficionado, attended the party and said he watched the acrobat perform on a ring some 20 feet off the ground.
“I didn’t know what happened,” Williams said. “All of a sudden, he wasn’t there, the music stopped and the spotlight was off.
“It wasn’t a happy place.”
– The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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Jeff Rude is a Golfweek senior writer. To reach him e-mail [email protected]