Za­nardi’s con­di­tion ‘very se­ri­ous’ af­ter hand­bike crash

For­mer F1 driver’s ac­ci­dent in­volved truck on state high­way: Italian news

Calgary Herald - - SPORTS - AN­GELO AMANTE

ROME For­mer For­mula One driver and two-time Champ Car cham­pion Alex Za­nardi un­der­went surgery for se­vere head in­juries on Fri­day af­ter be­ing in­volved in a road ac­ci­dent while rac­ing his hand­bike in Italy.

Siena’s Santa Maria alle Scotte hos­pi­tal said the 53-year-old Italian, who lost both legs and nearly his life in a 2001 Champ Car crash in Ger­many, was in a “very se­ri­ous” con­di­tion.

“The neu­ro­sur­gi­cal and max­illo-fa­cial in­ter­ven­tion to which the ath­lete was sub­jected be­gan shortly af­ter 7 p.m. and ended shortly be­fore 10 p.m.,” it said.

“The pa­tient was then trans­ferred to the in­ten­sive care unit on a con­fi­den­tial prog­no­sis.”

The Italian news agency ANSA re­ported sources say­ing the ac­ci­dent in­volved a truck on a state high­way near the town of Pienza to the south­east of Siena.

The hos­pi­tal said the four-time Par­a­lympic road cy­cling gold medal­list was flown to Siena by air am­bu­lance and ar­rived at around 6 p.m. lo­cal time.

Sky Italia tele­vi­sion re­ported that Za­nardi had been com­pet­ing in the Obi­et­tivo Tri­col­ore road race for Italian Par­a­lympic ath­letes.

Ac­cord­ing to the man­ager of the na­tional Par­a­lympic cy­cling team, Za­nardi was con­scious when help ar­rived, it added.

Za­nardi is an in­spi­ra­tional fig­ure in the worlds of mo­tor­sport and par­a­lympic en­deav­our, a hugely pop­u­lar and positive com­peti­tor who re­turned from life-chang­ing in­juries with a smile.

He had both legs am­pu­tated above the knee, with his heart stop­ping seven times as he lost all but a litre of the blood in his body, af­ter the hor­rific crash at the Lausitzrin­g in Ger­many on Sept. 15, 2001.

“You have never given up and with your ex­tra­or­di­nary for­ti­tude you have over­come a thou­sand dif­fi­cul­ties,” said Italian Prime Min­is­ter Giuseppe Conte on Twit­ter.

“Come on Alex Za­nardi, don’t give up. All of Italy is fight­ing with you.”

Amer­i­can mo­tor rac­ing great Mario An­dretti also ex­pressed his con­cern.

“I am so anx­ious and fright­ened about Alex Za­nardi that I’m hold­ing my breath. I am his fan. I am his friend. Please do what I’m do­ing and pray for this won­der­ful man,” he said on Twit­ter.

Cur­rent Indycar driver Gra­ham Ra­hal hailed Za­nardi as “truly one of the great­est in­spi­ra­tions and tough­est men I’ve ever met.”

Za­nardi won his ti­tles in the U.s.based Champ Car se­ries, now Indycar, in 1997 and 1998. He com­peted in 41 For­mula One grands prix, mostly for Lo­tus, be­tween 1991 and 1999 with his fi­nal sea­son at Williams.

BRYN LEN­NON/GETTY IM­AGES FILES

Alex Za­nardi lost both legs in a 2001 Champ Car crash.

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