Former Olympic champion Bill Johnson fights serious infection
The family of former Olympic downhill champion Bill Johnson says he is dealing with a life-threatening infection that has attacked his major organs and that he no longer wants to go through treatment.
Hospitalized since June 29, Johnson’s mother said in a phone interview the one-time daredevil skier refuses a feeding tube, even though it hurts to swallow. He no longer wants supplemental oxygen or antibiotics that could possibly help. Johnson wants to return to an assisted living facility in Gresham, Ore., where the 53-year-old was living before the illness.
His mom said, “that’s what he wants.” She added they had a “good day” Tuesday as they visited the hospital’s garden.
In recent years, Johnson’s health has been on the decline because of mini strokes followed by a major one.
Bill Johnson, the 1984 Olympic gold medalist in the men’s downhill, has “shut himself down,” his mother told 3 Wire Sports.
“He has no quality of life from this point on and never will,” DB Johnson-Cooper said.
In a note sent Sunday to family and friends, DB wrote, “The doctor was very frank with him and Bill knew exactly what he wanted. He shed a few tears, which was a very hard thing to see.”
On the telephone Tuesday, she said, “He has no physical use of any part of his body. He has difficulty even raising his head. His mind is still very keen but his body has literally shut down.”
Johnson, 53, was hospitalized June 29 and spent two weeks in intensive care while doctors unsuccessfully attempted to find the source of an infection that attacked all of his major organs, according to the U.S. Ski Team.
Johnson predicted he would win the downhill at the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Games and followed through, becoming the first American man to wear Olympic Alpine gold.
The man with the “Ski To Die” tattoo was left off the 1988 Olympic team, lost his son to drowning in 1992, and his marriage ended in 1999.
Johnson attempted a comeback prior to the 2002 Olympics but a horrible skiing crash left him in a temporary coma and with severe brain injuries. In 2010, he suffered a major stroke.