Paralympian Angela Madsen was found dead while trying to row from California to Hawaii

Madsen, 60, was pronounced dead at 11 p.m. PST on Monday, June 22, when the U.S. Coast Guard discovered her body hours after she last made contact with anyone, letter published on, a website set up to document the trip, and was signed by Madsen’s wife Debra Madsen and filmmaker Soraya Simi.

A paraplegic, Angela Madsen was a six-time Guinness World Record holder who found herself in the middle of trying her next feat: to become the first paraplegic and oldest woman to travel only from California to Hawaii.

“She kept telling us that if she died trying, she would want to go,” Madsen and Simi wrote in the letter.

The two wrote that rowing in an ocean solo was Madsen’s biggest goal and that she was willing to take that risk because “being at sea made her happier than anything else.”

“Angela was a warrior, as fierce as they come,” they wrote. “A life forged by incredible hardships, she overcame it all and advocated for the exact path she had charted for herself since childhood.”

A tragic journey

Madsen’s journey was the subject of a documentary, and he often appeared via satellite with his wife Debra and filmmakers.

Madsen carried all his own food and used a water remover to prepare fresh water. She set a goal of rowing 12 out of every 24 hours for three to four months to complete her journey, written by the filmmakers on the film’s website.

She left Los Angeles and rowed approximately 1,114 nautical miles, which was 1,275 nautical miles from her destination in Honolulu. Madsen was alone at sea for 60 days.

On Sunday, June 21, Madsen checked in via satellite and said he was going into the water to fix the bow anchor. After not hearing from Madsen for several hours, a search and rescue operation began. The plane was shipped and the cargo ship was diverted to find her. The Coast Guard discovered her body, the letter said.

“A life forged by incredible hardships”

Madsen served as a Marine in her 20s when she suffered a back injury and had to undergo corrective back surgery. However, mistakes in the operation left her paraplegic.

But Madsen said he would not allow her to maintain her disability while practicing adaptive sports. She first rowed for the U.S. national team in 2002 when she made her para-rowing debut at the World Rowing Championships in Seville, Spain. according to USRowing.

While with the U.S. national team, Madsen won four gold and one silver medal at the World Championships during her career. She would go to the Paralympics three times where she won bronze in both rowing and shooting, the filmmakers said.

“I know that no matter what my goal in this life is, my otherwise capable, physically challenged, broken, beaten body seems to me a necessary vehicle to achieve this. … I am driven by intention; I may be in pain and not walking upright. in this life, but when I go home, I won’t suffer walking through the door I can live with it If I could go back and change things, I wouldn’t. At first I was furious. But now, I fully understand, “Madsen wrote in her memoir” Rowing Against the Wind. “

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Madsen was an LGBTQ activist, after being chief marshal of the Long Beach Pride Parade in 2015. She was also a disability rights champion.

CNN’s Homero De La Fuente contributed to this report.

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