Ashley Judd recovering from ‘catastrophic’ fall in Congo rainforest
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Ashley Judd reflected on her “grueling 55-hour” rescue as she continues to recover from a “catastrophic” fall in a Congo rainforest.
Taking to Instagram on Tuesday, the 52-year-old actress shared a series of rescue images, telling her 468,000 followers that “without my Congolese brothers and sisters, my internal bleeding would have likely killed me, and I would have lost my leg.”
“I wake up weeping in gratitude, deeply moved by each person who contributed something life giving and spirit salving during my grueling 55 hour odyssey,” Judd continued.
Judd broke her leg in four places and sustained nerve damage after tripping over a fallen tree in the dark. The star had been working to track Bonobos, an endangered species of great apes.
On Monday, Judd spoke at length about the help she received during her time of need.
“Dieumerci stretched out his leg and put it under my grossly misshapen left leg to try to keep it still. It was broken in four places and had nerve damage. Dieumerci (‘Thanks be to God’) remained seated, without fidgeting or flinching, for 5 hours on the rain forest floor. He was with me in my primal pain. He was my witness,” Judd explained.
Judd added how another man, Papa Jean, discovered her after a five-hour search, and “calmly assessed” her broken leg.
“He told me what he had to do. I bit a stick. I held onto Maud. And Papa Jean, with certainty began to manipulate and adjust my broken bones back into something like a position I could be transported in, while I screamed and writhed,” Judd detailed. “How he did that so methodically while I was like an animal is beyond me. He saved me. & he had to do this twice!”
Judd added how six men “carefully moved” her into a hammock, “with as little jostling as possible,” and walked for three hours “over rough terrain” to carry her out.
The actress also spoke about her other heroes, Didier and Maradona.
“Didier drove the motorbike. I sat facing backwards, his back my backrest. When I would begin to slump, to pass out, he would call to me to re-set my position to lean on him,” Judd explained.
“Maradona rode on the very back of the motorbike, I faced him. He held my broken leg under the heel and I held the shattered top part together with my two hands,” she continued.
Judd said this took place for six hours on an irregular, rutted and pocketed dirt road.
“Maradona was the only person to come forward to volunteer for this task,” she noted.
The actress also praised the women who comforted her during the harrowing ordeal.
Last week, Judd spoke about her accident from her ICU bed in South Africa, where she recognized her “privilege” in accessing medical care, as she noted a Congolese person could have potentially lost their leg or their life.
During a virtual conversation with Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times on Friday, Judd said bonobos are the reason she spends time in the rainforest in the first place with her “life partner.” And while she didn’t specify who her partner is, the actress was previously married to Dario Franchitti from 2001 to 2013.
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