6:51 pm PST 2/12/2021


Trilby Beresford

From a bed in the intensive care unit, the actress and humanitarian worker spoke about her ordeal in a live Instagram video on Friday with New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof.

Ashley Judd announced on social media on Friday that she was involved in a “catastrophic accident” in the rainforest of the Congo, in which she almost lost her leg.

In an Instagram Live video with New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, the actress and humanitarian worker from a bed in the intensive care unit said she broke her leg in four places and had nerve damage.

“I did what I always did, at 4:30 in the morning with two of our trackers who are just this world class, brilliant, brilliant men who run in the dark, and my headlight had new batteries, but it was one fainted little, it didn’t quite work properly – I came down half a dome on a full moon in Yosemite, I can walk in partial light, but accidents happen – and there was a fallen tree along the way that I didn’t. “I took a very powerful step and just fell over that tree. When I broke my leg, I knew it was broken, I called to Maude, one of the researchers who worked with me,” Judd said, adding added that she knew what an evacuation in the rainforest would mean.

Judd was on a research project for endangered bonobos in the Congo. She describes the ape-like animals on her Instagram account as “egalitarian, matriarchal, peaceful” and adds that they offer hope for people.

“What came next was an incredibly harrowing 55 hours,” Judd continued talking about her ordeal, explaining that for the first five hours she simply lay on the forest floor with her “poorly shaped leg” biting the pain and a stick “Howl like a wild animal”. She said her teeth were chattering and she was in a cold sweat.

As Kristof noted, there was no ambulance service. Judd was taken to a South African trauma unit on a motorcycle, where she had to physically hold the upper part of her broken tibia together. “We did this for six hours,” she recalled. “I was on the verge of my edge.”

Judd, referring to her privilege during the interview, noted that the difference between her and a Congolese person was disaster insurance that enabled her to reach an operating table in South Africa before it was too late.

On her own Instagram page, Judd wrote that she spoke to Kristof to shed some light on “what it means to be Congolese in extreme poverty, with no access to medical care, medicines for pain, any kind of service or choice.”

The Hollywood Reporter has asked Judd’s rep for additional comments.

The interview in which Judd was eventually split up, presumably due to cell phone service, is listed below.