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Olympic Swimming Gold Medalist in Coma After Being Struck by Car

November 12, 1989

Olympic swimming gold medalist Victor Davis of Canada was in a coma with swelling and hemorrhaging of the brain Saturday in Montreal after he was struck by a car that his girlfriend said left the scene after throwing him head-first onto a parked car.

"I'm in shock," said Donna Clavel, 22, who lives with Davis, a gold and silver medalist in the breaststroke at the 1984 Olympics and a silver medalist at the 1988 Games in Seoul.

Davis, 25, who retired from swimming in July, was hit by a car early Saturday morning after an altercation with three men outside a bar in suburban Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, Clavel said.

Montreal police confirmed the accident took place and said they know who was driving the car that hit Davis, but refused to release details.

Davis was taken first to nearby Lakeshore Hospital, then immediately transferred to a trauma unit at Notre Dame Hospital in central Montreal.

Doctors cannot operate until the swelling goes down.

"The next 48 hours are critical," a hospital spokesman said. Davis is on a life-support system and is being treated with anti-inflammatory drugs.

Davis also suffered fractures to the spine, skull, one shoulder and a finger.

Clavel said three men were drinking at a table next to her and Davis in the bar, but they had not talked.

Clavel said she, Davis, and a friend left the bar and Davis went across the street to buy some orange juice. When Davis returned, the men were shouting at Clavel and her friend. According to Clavel's account, the men got into a car that drove down to the corner and turned and faced Davis, who had moved out into the middle of the street.

The car accelerated quickly, Clavel said. Davis tried to get out of the way but was hit and thrown into the air, landing head first on a parked car.

Davis held the world record in the 200-meter breaststroke for five years until Mike Barrowman of the United States broke it in August.

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