Scattolin dies from crash injuries

Linda Scattolin, the training partner of fellow Italian triathlete Edith Niederfriniger, succumbed to injuries suffered when the two cyclists were hit by an out of control bus last Saturday in South Africa, according to the Italian sports newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Alaric Jacobs, a spokesman for the Groote Schur Hospital, confirmed Scattolin’s death to Netwerk 24 News of South Africa.

The accident occurred Saturday in the mountainous Franschhoek Pass near to Stellenbosch when a bus carrying a local rugby team went out of control and struck Scattolin and Niederfriniger before it overturned. Two members of the rugby team and a supporter were killed and 26 others were injured in the accident.

Niederfriniger, a two-time Ironman winner, was also seriously injured. Niederfriniger was taken to the Paarl Medi-Clinic in Cape Town with a fractured tibia, fibula, collarbone and a deep laceration to her rib, where she remains in serious but not life-threatening condition.

Scattolin, 39, [at right in the photograph above, with Edith Niederfriniger] had been in critical condition and was paralyzed on her right side due to injuries to the left side of her brain, according to close friend Alexa Cunningham. “She (Scattolin) broke her back and is currently in a medically induced coma,” said Cunningham earlier this week.

Cunningham said that between Saturday and Sunday, Scattolin was unable to talk and could only open her eyes for a few seconds. Scattolin also suffered a broken collarbone, pelvis and dislocated hip.

Scattolin and Niederfriniger were training for the March 29 Ironman African Championship in Port Elizabeth.

Fellow elite triathlete Jodie Swallow has been at Edith Niederfriniger’s side for much of her hospital ordeal and, with Alexa Cunningham, has been a source of news of the two women. “I will be with Edith Niederfriniger this afternoon,” Swallow wrote on a Facebook post today. “She won’t be alone. I’m so sorry to all their friends and loved ones.”

Condolences from around the world started flooding social networks after the news was announced. Notable triathletes who joined in an outpouring of sympathy included Chrissie Wellington, Tine Deckers, Joanna Zeiger Schenk, Belinda Granger, Tim Don, Bella Bayliss, Rachel Joyce, Dede Griesbauer, Siri Lindley, Erika Csomor, Maxine Seear, Tom Lowe, Michelle Vesterby and many more.

Scattolin, 40, competed as an age grouper for Padovanuoto Dynamica Triathlon and finished 3rd in the 35-39 age group in the short distance event at the 2013 Abu Dhabi International Triathlon. Scattolin, known to friends by her Twitter handle Fi Xie, also won her age group at the 2013 Challenge Fuerteventura triathlon. Scattolin worked as a researcher at the University of Padua in the field of forest pathology.