Escape artist’s ‘America’s Got Talent: Extreme’ injury in metro Atlanta results in paralysis

Jonathan Goodwin, who appeared on "America's Got Talent" in 2020, was seriously injured Thursday night rehearsing a stunt for "America's Got Talent: Extreme" at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton. NBC

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Jonathan Goodwin, who appeared on "America's Got Talent" in 2020, was seriously injured Thursday night rehearsing a stunt for "America's Got Talent: Extreme" at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton. NBC

Jonathan Goodwin’s fiancée said he ‘nearly died’

Last October, British escape artist Jonathan Goodwin was severely injured while rehearsing a dangerous stunt on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent: Extreme” shooting at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

His fiancé and “Sherlock” actress Amanda Abbington on a podcast with Jay Rayner this week said he “nearly died” during the accident and in surgery and is now paralyzed and in a wheelchair. His Twitter signature now is “Retired Escape Artist and Daredevil.”

“He fell 30 feet and lost a kidney, broke both shoulder blades, shattered both legs,” she said. “Third-degree burns, broke his spine and severed his spinal cord and nearly died. And then on the operating table, he nearly died again.”

Goodwin, who had previously competed on the regular “America’s Got Talent,” spent four months in a metro Atlanta hospital after being airlifted to Grady Hospital from the production, He departed the hospital and returned to England in March. At the time, his paralysis was not publicized.

“Unless there’s a kind of stem cell surgery or that thing that Elon Musk is designing with the little chip,” she said, “he’ll be like that forever.”

UPDATE: Goodwin later that week told the British TV show “Lorraine” in his first interview since the accident: “It was pretty gnarly. It sounds dramatic sitting here but I did nearly die. I fell 30 feet and I saved my life because I fell head-first to the ground but didn’t hit my head because I tucked in my head but I broke my shoulders. The surgeon who did the spinal operation said it was basically the worst he’d ever seen so the prognosis is that this is me from here on out. I’m not down about it, to be honest.”

The 42-year-old posted a photo of himself in a wheelchair on his Instagram page this week with his dog. He wrote: “6 months ago, I went to rehearse something and left this little hairy monkey waiting patiently for me…he didn’t see his dad again until just a couple of weeks ago and when he finally did, dad had new cool wheels. A lot has changed in the last 6 months, but love is a constant and I’m very very loved. Looking forward to my next chapters and being a roll model.” (Roll is a reference to him being in a wheelchair.)

Abbington said he has been positive about this major setback in his life: “His courage and his strength is something that I just aspire to be like. He’s just incredible, honestly, like so happy, just like a very happy, positive human being, just liquid sunshine. He’s amazing.”

The accident happened on Oct. 14, 2021 during a rehearsal of a stunt where he had to escape from a straitjacket dangling high in the air. He was supposed to escape and fall between two vehicles suspended in the air below him. But timing went awry and when he got caught between the two cars, which burst into flames. He then missed the air mattress, landing on his head.

The new show, which features Simon Cowell as a judge and Terry Crews as a host, suspended production in Hampton and finished up in California in January. The show aired on NBC in February and March. NBC has not said if the show is coming back for another season.

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