UPDATE: Almost seven months after a near-fatal collision with a truck, Corriere della Sera reports that Paralympic hand cyclist Alex Zanardi has spoken his first words since the accident to family members on January 13. Zanardi had been in a medically induced coma while being treated for serious head injuries. “It was a great emotion when he started talking, no one believed it. He was there! And he communicated with his family,” his surgeon, Dr. Federica Alemanno, told the Italian news agency.
Paralympic hand cyclist Alex Zanardi, 53, has been placed in a medically induced coma after crashing at the Obiettivo Tricolore relay race on Friday in Tuscany, Italy. A statement released by his doctors on Monday says Zanardi’s condition is serious but stable, and that he will remain in a coma for the time being.
According to Italian national team coach Mario Valentini, Zanardi collided with a truck in the opposite lane after crossing the white line on a slight downhill. There is an ongoing criminal investigation, but Valentini does not believe the truck driver is at fault.
“Alex veered slightly into the oncoming lane just when a truck came. [The truck] tried to swerve but couldn’t avoid the crash,” Valentini told La Repubblica, as reported by the Associated Press.
Zanardi suffered severe cranial trauma, but was conscious and able to speak while waiting for medical personnel to arrive. He was airlifted to Santa Maria alle Scotte hospital in Siena, in Italy’s Tuscany region, where he underwent emergency neurosurgery for three hours.
“The neurological evaluations will be carried out only when we reduce the sedation, which we are not thinking of doing at the moment,” Dr. Roberto Gusinu said in the statement. “We need to have patience, a lot of patience.”
Zanardi is a two-time CART champion and former Formula One auto racer. After losing both his legs in a crash at a CART event in 2001, Zanardi turned to competitive hand cycling. He’s won four gold and two silver Paralympic medals, and has also competed in the New York City Marathon and an Ironman triathlon.
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