Now Zanardi, the nicest man in motorsports, lies in the intensive care unit in a coma, following neurological surgery that required doctors to “rebuild the skullcap.” In the most recent briefing, doctors said they fear for his brain function and his eyesight. And even for his life.
On Sunday morning, the hospital issued an updated statement on Zanardi’s condition: “Regarding the clinical conditions of the athlete Alex Zanardi, hospitalized at the polyclinic Santa Maria alle Scotte in Siena since June 19 following a road accident, the Health Department informs that the patient spent the night in conditions of cardio-respiratory and metabolic stability.
“Organ functions are adequate. He is always sedated, intubated and mechanically ventilated. The ongoing neuromonitoring has shown some stability but this figure must be taken with caution because the neurological picture remains serious.
“The current conditions of general stability still do not allow to exclude the possibility of adverse events and, therefore, the patient remains in a reserved prognosis.”
Video footage from the scene showed his broken cycle, lying on its side, next to a white car, with a tractor-trailer truck parked 200 feet ahead. Zanardi was transported, apparently with some delay, by helicopter to the Santa Maria alle Scotte University Hospital in Siena, 34 miles away.
The Tricolor Goal rally, which included more than 50 Paralympic athletes, began from three separate points in Italy, visiting hospitals, a winery, and racetracks such as Imola and Monza. (Zanardi was scheduled to compete at Monza in a BMW M6 GT3, with hand controls, in the final race of the Italian GT Championship in November.)
The three groups united in the northern city of Florence, then were continuing all the way to Santa Maria di Leuca, at the southern tip of Italy’s boot heel. They were maybe halfway to their destination when Zanardi crashed.
Obiettivo3, the organization that Zanardi founded and which created the rally, released a statement afterwards: “After the accident involving Alex Zanardi, his relay teammates decided to continue the route to the final stage of Santa Maria di Leuca. His wife Daniela and son Niccolo are with them (in spirit) and thank them for not giving up at such a difficult time. The journey continues for Alex.”
A central purpose of Obiettivo3 is to raise awareness of para-cycling, to identify potential athletes, to see if they are physically and mentally right for the sport, and if they are, help them with training and equipment. Zanardi’s calendar is always full of charitable events, especially for the Italian Red Cross, but Obiettivo3 is his passion.