By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
According to the Associated Press, Alex Zanardi had a three-hour operation on his head following a handbike accident in Italy. Zanardi was involved in an accident with what is being described as a ‘heavy vehicle.’
Following the accident, he was flown on a helicopter to Santa Maria alle Scotte hospital in Siena. He was taking part in a national race for Paralympic athletes in the Tuscan town of Pienza.
He reportedly suffered ‘severe cranial trauma’ during the accident, according to the Associated Press. He also had a ‘delicate neurosurgery operation’ that lasted the aforementioned three hours.
“His condition remains very serious,” the hospital said in a statement.
“You have never given up and with your extraordinary strength of mind you have overcome a thousand difficulties,” Giuseppe Conte, President of the Council of Ministers of the Italian Republic, said. “Come on Alex # Zanardi, don’t give up. All of Italy is fighting with you.”
Zanardi lost both of his legs nearly 20 years ago after a 2001 crash in the American Memorial that resulted in the amputation of both of his legs. Despite being without legs, Zanardi has continued to participate in racing.
There are reports through local Italian TV, via the AP, that Zanardi’s handbike was lying on the side without two of its three wheels. A large vehicle with a semitrailer was also parked ‘on the road ahead.’
“It happened on a slightly downhill straightaway just before a slight curve in the road,” Mario Valentini, the national team coach, told La Repubblica Florence. “Alex veered slightly into the oncoming lane just when a truck came. [The truck] tried to swerve but couldn’t avoid the crash.”
A criminal investigation is ongoing into the incident.
“I am so anxious and frightened about Alex Zanardi that I’m holding my breath,” racing legend Mario Andretti tweeted in a statement. “I am his fan. I am his friend. Please do what I’m doing and pray pray (for) this wonderful man.”
Zanardi has competed in CART, World Touring Car Championship, Italian Superturismo, European Touring Car Championship, F3000 International, Italian F3, Formula One, International Race of Champions (IROC), and the Weathertech SportsCar Championship.