Ashley Judd opens up about her near-death accident in the Congolese rainforest

Ashley Judd has shared details of her traumatic experience in the Congo after suffering a brutal injury.

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 15: Actress/activist Ashley Judd speaks at a press conference held to announce her appointment as The UN Population Fund's (UNFPA) Goodwill Ambassador at United Nations on March 15, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)
(Image credit: Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

Ashley Judd has expressed her gratitude to the locals who saved her life following a horrific injury in the Congolese rainforest in a moving Instagram post. 

The American movie star, who almost lost her leg after tripping over a fallen tree, detailed the harrowing experience to her 467k followers on Tuesday. 

In the lengthy caption, Ashley shares the stories of the individuals who helped her over the course of a ‘grueling 55-hour odyssey.’ She recalls each person by name, starting with Dieumerci, who was the first to assist the distraught actress. He sat with her for 5 hours on the ground, trying to keep her severely broken leg still as they awaited further aid. 

“He was with me in primal pain. He was my witness,” she said. 

Ashley praises Papa Jean, the man who arrived to find her ‘wretched and wild on the ground.’ He calmly adjusted her bones, repositioning her body to allow for easier transportation. “How he did that so methodically while I was like an animal is beyond me. He saved me,” she wrote. 

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The wounded actress was then helped by six ‘heroes,’ who carried her on a hammock for 3 hours over treacherous terrain. 

After this painstaking journey, two more men named Didier and Maradona joined the rescue mission. They moved her onto their motorbike and helped to nurse her leg over the duration of the six-hour ride. Despite her excruciating leg, Ashley was able to find some brief respite chatting with Maradona. 

“We have a nice friendship, discussing the pros and cons of polygamy and monogamy," she recalled. 

Ashley then goes on to thank the women who contributed to the operation. “My sisters who helped me. They blessed me,” she wrote. 

The philanthropist had been in the Democratic Republic of Congo researching bonobo apes, a highly endangered species. The accident occurred at 4.30 am, as Ashley was about to start work. 

With the Congo’s limited medical facilities, Ashley could not receive adequate treatment for her injuries in the country. She is now recovering in a hospital in South Africa - a privilege she is all too aware of. 

"The difference between a Congolese person and me is disaster insurance that allowed me 55 hours after my accident to get to an operating table in South Africa,” she told the New York Times on Friday. 

While her foot is currently ‘lame,’ the actress is hopeful that she will regain her ability to walk with enough physical therapy and plenty of time. 

Emma Dooney
Lifestyle News Writer

Hailing from the lovely city of Dublin, Emma mainly covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health and wellness feature. Always up for a good conversation, she has a passion for interviewing everyone from A-list celebrities to the local GP - or just about anyone who will chat to her, really.

Emma holds an MA in International Journalism from City, University of London, and a BA in English Literature from Trinity College Dublin.