Angela Madsen, a Paralympian bronze medalist, died while trying to row from California to Hawaii, the U.S. Coast Guard said Thursday. She was 60.
Madsen was headed to Tahiti when she was found lifeless in the water. A friend had contacted the Coast Guard after not hearing from Madsen after 24 hours, Chief Petty Officer Sara Muir said.
Madsen was at sea for 59 days. She was about 1,145 miles from Hilo, Hawaii, when she was last heard from, Muir said. Madsen was planning to go out for a swim.
“She was out in the middle of the ocean, with not really anything around,” Muir said.
Coast Guard rescuers who went to search for Madsen found her tied to her vessel, but she was “unresponsive,” Muir said.
Madsen was a three-time Paralympian and Marine Corps veteran who won the bronze medal at the 2012 London Games in the shot put event. She also won gold medals in 2003, 2004 and in 2005 at the World Rowing Championships.
She was aiming to be the first paraplegic and oldest woman to row the Pacific Ocean, according to RowofLife.org.
“We are processing this devastating loss,” Madsen’s wife, Debra Madsen, and documentarian Soraya Simi said in a joint statement on the Row of Life website. “To row an ocean solo was her biggest goal. She knew the risks better than any of us and was willing to take those risks because being at sea made her happier than anything else. She told us time and again that if she died trying, that is how she wanted to go.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.