By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – German canoe slalom coach Stefan Henze succumbed to head injuries received after a car accident in Rio de Janeiro and died on Monday. The International Olympic Committee ordered a half-staff German flag to be placed in all competitions on Tuesday to honor the athlete.
“The IOC is mourning the loss of a true Olympian,” IOC President Thomas Bach said. “Our sympathy is with the family of Stefan Henze, his friends and all of the German Olympic team.”
Henze, 35, an Olympic slalom canoe silver medal winner at the Athens Olympics in 2004, was in a taxi heading towards the Olympic Village last Friday, along with another member of the canoe training team, Christian Käding, when apparently the car crashed into a concrete barrier.
“Today the sport which the entire team came to Rio for recedes into the background,” said Germany’s team leader Michael Vesper in a statement released to reporters. “Our thoughts are with Stefan’s loved ones, who had the opportunity to say goodbye here.”
On Saturday morning Henze underwent brain surgery but never came out of his coma. Käding sustained minor lacerations and was released from the hospital on Saturday. According to Brazilian authorities the accident is being investigated. Local media, Globo, reports that Henze’s family authorized the donation of his organs to local Rio hospitals.
Also on Monday seven people were slightly injured when an aerial camera used to film all Olympic competitions from high up in the air at the Olympic Park came crushing down. The accident occurred right near Arena 1, where ticket holders were heading to watch Brazil VS Nigeria. The equipment is owned by the Olympic Broadcasting Service the official communications branch of the IOC.