Para-Rower Dies Rowing to Honolulu

Angela Madsen, 60, died while rowing to Hawaii from California.

25 June 2020

The Long Beach rowing community is in mourning after learning that three-time Paralympian and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Angela Madsen, 60, has died at sea while attempting to row solo from Marina del Rey, California, to Hawaii Yacht Club in Honolulu.

The sad news was announced by her wife, Deb Madsen, on Facebook on Tuesday, 23 June. ‘With extreme sadness, I must announce that Angela Madsen will not complete her solo row to Hawaii,’ Deb Madsen wrote.

Angela Madsen sent her wife a text on Saturday night, 20 June. Next day, she didn’t respond to a text that Deb Madsen sent her. Madsen was almost half-way into her 2,500 nautical miles voyage to Honolulu. The journey was expected to take four months in her 20-foot boat, Row of Life.

A German cargo ship, which was 11 hours away from Madsen’s rowboat, responded to a U.S. Coast Guard call to check on Madsen. A plane, ordered by the Coast Guard to look for Madsen, spotted her dead in the water. She had earlier written on social media that she needed to climb out of her boat to make repairs. When the cargo ship arrived to Row of Life, the crew recovered her body, which was tied to the boat. The cargo ship is now en route to Tahiti while Madsen’s boat is adrift.

Angela Madsen, a Marine Corps veteran, became a paraplegic in 1993 after a failed back surgery. She started to row in the late 1990s, and she and a partner rowed across the Atlantic twice. In 2014, she rowed from California to Hawaii with a partner. Madsen rowed in the Beijing Paralympic Games in 2008. In the London Games in 2012, she took a bronze medal in the shot put and competed in the shot put and javelin in the 2016 games in Rio.

Madsen was a well-known local disability rights and LGBTQ+ activist.

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