row2k has been notified that Angela Madsen, 2008 USA Paralympian and six-time USA World Championships team member, including four World Championship golds in the double from 2003 to 2006 with partner Scott Brown, and a silver in the 1x in 2002, passed away during her solo Pacific rowing attempt to row solo and unassisted from Santa Cruz to Hawaii. Madsen was almost halfway to her destination.
In addition to rowing on the US team, Madsen also rowed across the Atlantic six times, rowed across the Indian Ocean, rowed around Great Britain, won a Paralympic medal in the shot put, and set six Guinness world records.
Angela's wife of four years Deb Madsen posted the following today on the RowofLife Facebook page:
With extreme sadness I must announce that Angela Madsen will not complete her solo row to Hawaii. I received her last text Saturday night. Sunday she was not responding to my text messages. When I checked the main message inbox she had not returned any messages. When I looked at the tracking it did not appear that she was rowing the boat, but rather that is was drifting. Knowing she was planning to enter the water to fix her hardware to deploy the para-anchor from the bow, I was concerned she did not text when she got back on the boat. She was about as far from any land as she could get and the communication can be a challenge, I was hopeful but still had a feeling of heaviness in my chest. Soraya contacted the US Coast Guard and explained our concern. They diverted a Cargo Ship to render aid. German registered ship, Polynesia, answered to call. They were in route to Tahiti from Oakland. They were 11-12 hours from RowofLife. In the meantime, the US Coast Guard, sent a C17 for a fly over about 8-9pm. The plane saw Angela in the water, apparently deceased, tethered to RowofLife but was unable to relay that information due to poor satellite coverage. When the Polynesia arrived about 11PM Monday night they found and recovered Angela's body. RowofLife is adrift and we are working on its recovery. Angela is now in route to Tahiti without me, which was not our agreement.
Angela was living her dream. She loved being on the water as you could see from the photos she sent. Please be patient with me as I am not a phone person and I'm pretty overwhelmed with tasks at the moment. I am sad but ok. I never planned a life without her so be patient with me while I figure all of this out. Thank you for all your support. Angela was truly touched by your support. Thank you to the US Coast Guard and the Captain and Crew of the Polynesia. Deb
Madsen's doubles partner Scott Brown remembers Madsen as a warrior.
"As difficult as this is, I wanted to say a few words about Angela Madsen.
"Angela Madsen was a warrior. She was uncompromising when it came to her advocacy for disability rights, LGBTQ rights, Veterans or the promotion of adaptive rowing. She was always pushing her own limits as well as others in these areas. She wanted to show everyone that having a disability wasn't a limitation.
She took her love of rowing to its ultimate form. The Paralympics. Open ocean rowing. The latter so fraught with risk and danger. The warrior in her understood the potential peril but did it anyway, multiple times, to show us and the world what we humans, disabled or not, are capable of.
We have had many good times as well as some bad times together. I want to remember all the positives she has given me and the people she has touched. I look back at our many World Rowing Championships together and finally the 2008 Paralympic games. I realize that if there had been no Angela Madsen back then, my life would be a very different life right now. She has made such a huge impact on my life, I would not be the same person today had it not been for her.
I can only wonder how many people has she impacted over the years. All the causes she supported.
Angela will be missed. My heart goes out to all her family and friends.
Oars up, Angela. Row in Peace."
The following article, originally posted in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, recounts Madsen's intense, adventure-filled, and often trying life very well: Angela Madsen, Paraplegic Veteran, To Embark On Solo Row From Santa Cruz To Hawaii.
row2k will update this report as more information becomes available.