As the daughter of country music singer Naomi Judd and the half-sister of Wynonna Judd, actress and political activist Ashley Judd is no stranger to the spotlight. Following a harrowing accident in February 2021, Ashely decided to use her platform to raise awareness for the lack of access to healthcare in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
But what happened to her? Let's take a closer look at the accident that landed Ashley in an intensive care unit.
What happened to Ashley Judd?
On Feb. 12, 2021, the actress joined The New York Times journalist, Nicolas Kristof, during an Instagram Live session. Ashley explained from a hospital bed that she was "in an ICU trauma unit in beautiful South Africa, which has taken me in from the Congo, a country I deeply love which is not, unfortunately, equipped to deal with massive catastrophic injuries like I have had."
She added, "And 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."
Ashley went on to explain that she had shattered her leg in four places and suffered nerve damage. And although the actress was able to seek medical attention, she highlighted many Congolese people's lack of access to "a simple pill to kill the pain" in a similar circumstance.
Here's where you might want to skip over the details if you're squeamish about injuries.
Evidently, Ashley tripped over a fallen tree during an excursion after a malfunctioning headlamp made it difficult to see where she was going. She spent the next five hours lying on the forest floor — "with his leg under my badly misshapen leg, biting my stick, howling like a wild animal" — until she and her colleague were finally able to be evacuated.
After someone arrived to reset her bones, Ashley spent "an hour and a half in a hammock, being carried out of the rainforest by my Congolese brothers, who were doing it barefoot, up and over hills, through the river."
She then endured a six-hour motorcycle ride, during which one person drove and another person sat behind her in order to hold her up. Ashley proceeded to stay the night in a hut in the city of Jolu before she was flown to the capital, Kinshasa, for a day. After that, she traveled to South Africa in order to finally be treated in an ICU.
"I'm in a lot of love. I'm in a lot of compassion and I'm in a lot of gratitude," Ashley told The New York Times' Nicolas Kristof during her Instagram Live at the time. "I thank everyone for their thoughts and their prayers and their support."
In the nearly six months since the accident happened, Ashley has made remarkable progress with her health.
Taking to Instagram yet again on August 1, 2021, Ashley shared a series of photos of herself hiking in Switzerland, updating fans on how far her recovery has come in just a few short months.
"Today, five months and three weeks after the accident in the Congolese rainforest, I walked again," she shared, attesting to how she "walked uphill on uneven surfaces for an hour confidently and came down carefully and easily."
This is the biggest update Ashley has shared regarding her condition since the injury, and although she acknowledged "how much stamina I have to rebuild," the star said she is up for the challenge and looks forward to continuing training and building back up her endurance to what it once was.
"My leg will never be the same. She is a new leg. And I love her. We are buddies. We have come a long way and we have a fabulous life ahead," Ashley wrote, clearly hopeful for the future.