“Superman” star Christopher Reeve is paralyzed and cannot breathe on his own after breaking his neck in a riding accident, his surgeon said Wednesday. The doctor refused to speculate on his chances of recovery.
The actor’s headlong fall during a weekend horse-riding accident caused multiple fractures of his first and second cervical vertebrae, bones in the spinal column near the base of his skull, Dr. John A. Jane said.
That caused severe injuries to his spinal cord, and he may require surgery soon to stabilize his upper spine, the doctor said.
“The extent of the damage is not known. At this time, it is premature to speculate about his long-term prognosis,” the University of Virginia neurosurgeon said in a brief statement, refusing to discuss the matter further.
The star’s publicist, Lisa Kasteler in Los Angeles, said Wednesday afternoon that Reeve is conscious and has been able to talk to relatives.
He was listed in serious condition at the University of Virginia Medical Center.
Reeve, 42, an avid horseman, was injured Saturday during an equestrian competition at Culpeper.
He and his mount had cleared two of 15 obstacles in a cross-country event. Then his horse stopped abruptly at the third, a 3-foot log jump, flinging Reeve headlong to the ground. Reeve was wearing a helmet, witnesses said.
Reeve’s athletic, 6-foot-4-inch frame and love of adventure won him the title role in 1978’s “Superman,” which was followed by three more movies based on the comic book character.