When Nik Wallenda walked a high wire across Niagara Falls last summer, no one was watching more closely than Terry Troffer. He's in charge of making sure that the wire, and everything else, is set up correctly and in good repair.
Troffer also happens to be Nik Wallenda's father.
"My father oversees every step of the way," explained Wallenda, who's planning to walk a cable over The Grand Canyon this summer. "My father is there to watch my back."
What Troffer oversees for Wallenda is called "rigging" -- basically setting up the high wire and other equipment. If it fails, the worst could happen.
"I would say 90 percent of the deaths in our industry are rigging-related," continued Wallenda. "The failure usually isn't the performer."
He says rigging led to the death of his great grandfather, Karl Wallenda, who fell from a high wire stretched between two buildings in Puerto Rico in 1978.
"The news media all said it was because of wind, but the truth is, and in the family we know, that it wasn't the wind, the way the wire was rigged was improper," Nik said.
Terry Troffer was, himself, a circus performer when he married Nik's mother decades ago. But now, Nik says his dad has the most important job in the show, making sure a mistake doesn't lead to tragedy.
"I don't want Nik to have to worry about his equipment," said Troffer. "That's one less thing on his mind, so that he can focus on what he has to do."
Troffer will be with Nik at the Grand Canyon to ensure the rigging is safe.
"It's a unique role, but who better to trust with your life than your father?" added Wallenda.
WTTG FOX 5 & myfoxdc
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