Ashley Judd Details an 'Incredibly Harrowing 55 Hours'

Actress is healing from 'catastrophic' fall while doing conservation work in Democratic Republic of Congo
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 13, 2021 7:30 AM CST
Ashley Judd Details an 'Incredibly Harrowing 55 Hours'
Actress Ashley Judd is seen during a discussion on feminism at the Milken Institute Global Conference on April 30, 2018, in Beverly Hills, Calif.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof had an Instagram Live chat on Friday with Ashley Judd, who was propped up in an ICU bed in a South Africa hospital. How she got there: She explained she'd had a recent "catastrophic" fall while doing conservation work tracking endangered bonobos in the Democratic Republic of Congo, per Page Six and Yahoo Entertainment. The 52-year-old actor—who says she travels to that country twice a year for an extended stay at a research camp run by her "life partner"—says she was working in the dark before dawn in the rainforest with a faulty headlamp, when she tripped over a downed tree. She says she knew right away that her right leg was broken.

From there, she describes "an incredibly harrowing 55 hours," in which she was "howling like a wild animal" as she waited for five hours while a fellow tracker went to get help, chomping down on a stick to help ease the pain and falling in and out of consciousness. A complex evacuation ordeal followed. Judd has since had surgery on her leg, which was broken in four places and has tissue damage. "I nearly lost my leg," she told Kristof, saying it's currently "lame" but that she was optimistic she'll "walk again." She also referenced the accident in her own Instagram post, in which she called herself a "woman of the wilderness" and reiterated her love for the "egalitarian, matriarchal, peaceful" bonobos, who she says "offer hope for humans." More on her ordeal here. (More Ashley Judd stories.)

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