German broadcaster pulls plug on live TV show after serious accident | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 05.12.2010
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German broadcaster pulls plug on live TV show after serious accident

A popular German TV show had to be taken off the air on Saturday night after a contestant suffered a serious injury live on air. The man has since undergone an emergency operation and was put in an artificial coma.

Thomas Gottschalk speaking to the audience

Host Gottschalk and the audience were shocked

German broadcaster ZDF was forced to stop the country's most popular Saturday night show after a contestant using power stilts was seriously injured live on air.

The 23-year-old man taking part in the program "Wetten, dass…?" (Wanna bet?) had to be taken to hospital in Dusseldorf after attempting to jump over five oncoming cars using spring-powered stilts.

On Sunday, the hospital treating him said he suffered signs of paralysis. Doctors said the spinal cord was damaged and the patient had suffered serious injuries to his neck vertebrae. The young man had undergone an emergency operation and was later put in a drug-induced coma.

Despite one abandoned attempt, the contestant managed to clear two of the cars but failed to clear the fourth vehicle, which was driven by his father.

Viewers saw a shocked audience before host Thomas Gottschalk expressed his thoughts as medics were called in.

"I have seen a lot in the course of my career but I have never seen anything so dreadful as what happened to this young man," said Gottschalk.

'We cannot be lighthearted'

Parmaedics surrounding the injured contestant

Medics rushed to the scene to help the injured contestant

The presenter then announced an early end to the show for the first time since he had begun hosting it in 1987, amid fears the man had been paralyzed.

"We feel that that we cannot behave in a lighthearted way when we don't feel lighthearted."

The family show - a television favorite for decades that also airs in Austria and Switzerland - features contestants who offer to perform feats of skill and daring, and celebrity guests who must predict whether the feat will succeed. The celebrities are subjected to a humorous penalty if they lose their bet.

Pop act Take That and teen heartthrob Justin Bieber had been due to appear before the cancelation of the program. The contestant was using special jumping devices known as "powerbocks," after their German inventor Alexander Boeck.

Author: Richard Connor, Andreas Illmer (dpa, Reuters)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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