Austrian swimmer in coma after bus slams into athletes in Baku (GRAPHIC VIDEO)
Two of the victims, Vanessa Sahinovic, and Luna Pajer, were immediately flown back to Vienna in the personal jet of the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev on Thursday, while a third, Verena Breit was well enough to perform on Friday.
“Sahinovic was flown back to Vienna with multiple broken bones and was operated on all night. Her spine is badly injured along with her pelvis and thigh,” a statement from the Austrian Olympic Committee read.
“Right now Sahinovic is in an artificial coma and will have to undergo further operations in the coming days. No exact predictions regarding her recovery can be given at this time.”
Officials said it would be easier to make a more accurate prognosis for Sahinovic after about a week, while Pajer, who sustained a broken arm, would be released from hospital in the next few days.
“It is a drama to come here to the first European Games and to have such an accident. I am very upset. We are not angry, it was the wrong time and place,” said Austrian Olympic Committee president Karl Stoss, who admitted he was “still in shock.”
Oil-rich Azerbaijan hoped the extravaganza, featuring 6,000 athletes competing in 20 sports at a range of sparkling new facilities would bring positive attention to the little-known post-Soviet state, but has now been forced into damage limitation control.
“This is a terrible accident, and at this time our thoughts and concerns are for the athletes involved, their families and the remainder of the Austrian delegation,” said an official statement from Baku.
“The incident is now a matter of a police investigation.”
Remarkably, Breit, who suffered bruising in the gruesome collision, performed her routine with two other team members, in what they called the “swim for Vanessa.” The three came fourth in a field of sixteen.
The Games will continue until June 28.