A high wire artist who smashed all the bones in her face and was lucky to escape with her life after falling in a five-person human pyramid has shared photographs of her injuries as she prepares for her next stunt.
Lijana Wallenda, of the famed Wallenda circus family, broke every bone in her face as well as a rib and some bones in her foot when she fell 40ft to the ground in 2017 while training.
She has been training since then to recover and on Sunday night, will walk across a high wire between two Times Square skyscrapers with her brother, Nik.
They will not use any harnesses and there will be no safety net.
In an interview with Good Morning America on Wednesday, Lijana described some of her injuries and shared photos of her face.
Lijana Wallenda’s horrifying injuries after she fell 40 ft from a high wire in Sarasota in 2017, breaking every bone in her face. She had to have 72 pins put in place to reconstruct it
Lijana is shown this week, ahead of her next stunt
‘I broke a rib. Punctured my right ear canal, I broke my left calcaneus but the big one was every bone in my face,’ she said.
Nik has been working with producers for their show all week to try to install the wire they will walk on but it has been ‘more difficult’ than he could ‘ever imagine’.
To train, the siblings have been practicing with wind machines and hoses to simulate rain.
They say the only thing that will stop their stunt is lightning or storms.
The Wallendas have cheated death for decades with their daredevil stunts but the incident in 2017 sent shockwaves through their family and the industry.
They were rehearsing in Sarasota for what would have been the largest moving human pyramid if they had pulled it off.
The eight-person human pyramid was to be the first of its kind to be performed when the group attempted it on the high wire
The group still says they do not know exactly what went wrong but Lijana Wallenda was the first to fall. She was on the second level, walking on a pole between two men and was supporting the third level of the pyramid
After the first person tumbled, the others fell in quick succession and the crew watching on were helpless
The three men on the first level of the pyramid were able to cling on to the wire
The scene on the ground was terrifying. Production assistants tended to the injured acrobats while others frantically called 911
Lijana had to have 72 pins put in her face and some in her foot. One of her X-Rays is shown
The performer also broke a bone in her upper left arm. It is shown in an X-Ray above
Harrowing footage of the fall was taken by a truck driver who had gone to where they were rehearsing to drop off food.
Nik and Lijana’s aunt suffered serious injuries too. Her mother Carla told The Sarasota Herald Tribune: ‘She in so much pain.
‘She has a very, very bad limp, and one of her legs is two inches shorter than the other now.’
‘She broke her right arm, her ankle, fracture her ribs, her pelvis, her cheekbone, jawbone, upper gum line and her sinuses.
Despite the accident, Nik decided that the family should push on.
It was not their first ill-fated stunt.
Lijana is shown practicing for Sunday’s Times Square stunt with her brother, Nik. She said she was nervous in the clip because the wire was moving lots
Nik Wallenda, her brother and the face of the family, said that they had to continue performing despite the accident
In 1962, the collapse of a seven person human pyramid in Detroit led to the deaths of two members of the family and a third was confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
In 1978, Karl Wallenda plummeted to his death while performing a high wire tight rope stunt in Puerto Rico.
Despite the tragedies, the family has continued to pursue increasingly dangerous stunts
The eight-person moving human pyramid on the high rope would have been the first of its kind.
Nik took to Facebook afterwards to say it had been traumatizing reliving the moment.
‘It has been an emotional day for sure for me. I have been sort of a wreck to be honest, I’ve shed a lot of tears. Having to relive that accident yet again, after that I had to experience it in over and over again in my head.
‘I know that I struggled with that.
‘My family and friends are all doing amazingly well. All of them with the exception of my sister have been back on stage which is nothing short of miraculous
‘My sister she is training right now my family for 7 generations and 200 years have lived by those words never give up,’ he said.