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    'Cannonball' injured at state fair

    By Times staff writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
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    published February 10, 2002

    TAMPA -- The performer billed as the "human cannonball" was seriously injured Saturday when he soared over his target at the Florida State Fair.

    Ermes Zamperla, 36, flew 100 feet after being launched about 4:30 p.m. from a spring-loaded cannon. He overshot the inflatable cushion by 25 feet, said family members, landed on his feet and then, carried by momentum, crashed head-first into a temporary fence made of fiberglass.

    Zamperla was talking to paramedics as they took him to a medical helicopter, said E.A. Gregory, chairman of United Shows of America, which runs the fair's carnival acts.

    The Hillsborough Sheriff's Office said Zamperla suffered broken bones and a head injury, but none of the injuries was life-threatening. He was admitted at Tampa General Hospital,

    Zamperla, of Sarasota, has been doing human cannonball shows around the country for more than 20 years as part of the Zamperla Thrill Circus. The family-run business has operated for seven generations, family members said.

    Atos Zamperla, Ermes' older brother, was injured in a similar accident three years ago, said sister Tina Zamperla.

    She said he now wants to step in for the injured brother, beginning today.

    Ermes Zamperla performed the stunt four times a day. For protection, he wore a helmet, a red, white and blue padded suit, and "thick shoes" said Gregory.

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