Early this morning, we received word from Inside Magic Favorite Dean Gunnarson, that things did not go as planned in his planned escape from the tracks of a speeding roller-coaster in Beijing.
The Toronto Sun had coverage this afternoon filling in the details of what must have been a horrific event.
Dean Gunnarson is insane but also very safe. That is to say, when he hangs by his toes over the Hoover Dam, he makes sure the wind speed is in the single digits and he has no butter or slippery goo on his boots. Despite his devotion to safety, he has had several near catastrophes over his career.
He began with hypothermia and near drowning in the frigid waters of Canada where the water and cold robbed him of a chance to escape from his shackles or the locked wooden casket. He's pulled, broken, snapped, and twisted body parts with verve much to the delight of fans and his medical professionals.
Still, as we have admitted on this magic news outlet and to professional mental health workers, his stuff scares us silly.
Here's the report from The Toronto Sun:
He had freed himself and was attempting to dive to safety when the roller-coaster car, which was travelling at nearly 100 km/h, clipped his right foot.
He sustained a broken bone in his foot and some internal bleeding.
He was in hospital Tuesday in Beijing but was hoping to return to Canada by Wednesday.
In his news release, Gunnarson said he believed hot and humid conditions, with a temperature of 36 C, contributed to him losing the extra split second he needed to completely avoid the bullet roller-coaster car.
The 46-year-old Manitoba resident – who has performed death-defying escapes around the world since he was in his teens – said this escape was a little too close for comfort.
"I have always said I don't do card tricks or pull bunnies out of a hat," Gunnarson said in his news release. "I push the envelope in an extreme way that tries to do the impossible with every great escape I have ever attempted. I like to keep things close but this was beyond close. It was near death."
The escape was part of Gunnarson's Bound for Danger world tour and was being shot for inclusion in a magic special on Chinese television.
This autumn, Gunnarson is planning an escape in which he will be locked inside a steel coffin and buried six feet underground for 48 hours.
After two days, he will attempt to escape on Halloween, the anniversary of the death in 1926 of legendary magician and escape artist Harry Houdini.
Houdini wrote, "No one wants to see a man die, but they want to be there when it happens."
The escape from the roller coaster tracks stunt almost claimed the life of Inside Magic Favorite Lance Burton. He too misjudged the closing speed of the coaster leaving no margin for error as he leaped to safety. He said later, "That was stupid."
Mr. Gunnarson proves that unholy truth about human nature with each performance.
A magician asks a volunteer from the audience to name a drink and then pours that exact drink from a container filled with water. Not a lot of danger in the effect and our review of Think-a-Drink Hoffman's medical records show no injury directly attributable to performing his eponymous effect.
A magician has a committee sit around a table and summons the spirits of his company's departed loved-ones. Again, not a lot of risk of physical injury.
Both of these effects involve chance but neither involve a type of chance that could bring injury or death to the performer.
An escape artist, however, bets physical safety against the odds of success.
Those of the Houdini line perform the moral equivalent of performing a Classic Force with a borrowed deck for an obnoxious and uncooperative volunteer and betting their life that they will succeed.
There are people who are great at the Classic Force. In fact, we lack most sleight of hand skills save the ability to hit the Classic Force 99 times out of 100. Statistically, we'd be dead by now. In fact, we would have died about 732 times since we first "perfected" our sleight.
Let us go on record that we do not want to be present when Mr. Gunnarson pushes the envelope too far. He has been a good and loyal friend of Inside Magic since our start at a newsletter sent through the U.S. Mail.
Still, he does provide for exciting copy.
Check out his website for more information and a chance to watch videos certain to push you into a place you would likely not go on your own.