The actress, who broke her leg in four places in Feb. 2021 during a hike through a jungle in the Republic of the Congo, was saved with an emergency evacuation to South Africa
Ashley Judd is reflecting on how badly her traumatic accident in the Congo could have gone if it wasn’t for the life-saving help she had.
The actress and humanitarian, 53, shattered her right leg in four places during a hike through a forest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Feb. 2021. Looking back on that day during an interview with Kate Roberts on her podcast Sex, Body & Soul, Judd said that she barely survived the 55-hour rescue and was in immense pain.
“I don’t know how the mind and the body and the soul come together to manage to endure the unendurable,” she said. “I bit a stick, I screamed, I howled, I convulsed. I never did pass out — I wished that I could.”
Judd was lying on the forest floor for five hours before someone was able to come find her group and reset her bones before her “Congolese brothers” took her in a hammock “up and over hills, through the river” for an hour and a half back to their camp, she previously explained in an Instagram Live. From there, she rode on the back of a motorcycle for six hours to reach a spot where she could be rescued and flown to the hospital.
“I was in hospital in South Africa about nine days. And then I was medevaced to Tennessee. But when I got to South Africa my leg didn’t have a pulse and I was hemorrhaging, and if I had been medevaced to Europe I would’ve bled to death,” she told Roberts.
During that 55-hour-long rescue, Judd found that “as animalistic as I was, my mind was pretty skilled,” and she was able to get through the harrowing experience.
“It showed me that all the work I’ve done in the development of my meditation process and how hard I’ve tried to heal, that that really was with me throughout those 55 hours,” she said. “And this doesn’t make me good right and perfect, and I’m not trying to toot my own horn, but there was a certain grace that stayed with me.”
Judd said she worked to reframe her situation.
“I knew that I couldn’t have expectations, for example, of when I might get help or if there will be a painkiller, or anything. And I just had no expectations, and I knew that I could only do it one breath at a time,” she said. “And I was able to say please and thank you and may I have a drink of water, and I didn’t make it anybody else’s fault, and I didn’t take it out on the people around me.”
“I was at my edge, and I would get to the edge of my edge and I would try to soften, and I would try to find more spaces inside of me,” she said.
In the interview, recorded last year, a healed Judd said that she’s going back to the Congo in January.
“I’m getting right back to the Congo, it’s where I belong,” she said. “I love it. It feels good to me.”