Rome, Jun 20 (efe-epa).- Ex-Formula One driver and four-time Paralympic gold medalist Alex Zanardi suffered severe head injuries and is on a ventilator in intensive care following a serious accident during a hand-cycling event on Friday.
The Italian athlete was rushed to Le Scotte de Sienna hospital after the road accident on the outskirts of the Tuscan city. He underwent brain surgery that same night.
In a statement, the hospital said that Zanardi remained in a serious condition but was stable. He is still under sedation in intensive care and is breathing with the assistance of a machine, it added.
He was brought to the hospital in a very serious condition with significant head injuries, the statement said.
Doctor Giuseppe Oliveri, director of the neurosurgery department at the hospital, told press Saturday that Zanardi would remain in sedation until Monday or Tuesday.
The athlete suffered a severe accident on Friday when he collided with a truck while taking part in a hand-biking exhibition event that saw hand-bikers travel from the north to the south of Italy to mark the end of the coronavirus lockdown.
He was airlifted to hospital, given the severity of the situation.
Born in Bologna in 1966, Zanardi competed in Formula One in 1991, ‘94 and ‘99.
His last F1 team before moving back to Championship Auto Racing Teams, Williams, offered words of encouragement after news broke.
“The thoughts of our whole team are with former driver Alex Zanardi after he was injured in a hand bike accident earlier today. Alex is one of life’s truly inspirational people and as we all know, a fighter through and through. Stay strong and Forza Alex,” the tweeted team said.
In 2001, he was involved in a disastrous crash on the German circuit Lausitzring. His legs were amputated as a result of the accident.
He refused to give up sport, however, and took his athleticism to the Paralympics.
Competing in hand-cycling, he bagged four gold medals.EFE-EPA