UnNews:Barbaro Walters Emerges From Full Day of Surgery

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22 May 2006

Unnews barbaro conf

Veterinarians comment on reporter Barbaro Walters' condition after surgery to repair leg fractures.

Baltimore, MD Famed investigative reporter Barbaro Walters emerged successfully from 7 hours of complicated surgery on Sunday, following a complex leg fracture she suffered on Saturday. Walters was covering the Preakness horse race at Pimlico racetrack when the injury occurred.

When the race got underway, and the horses made it only a few hundred yards in of the 1 3-16 mile course, Barbaro Walters sprinted towards the track, hoping to get a better view. Her press box was in the back rows of the venue, and she apparently felt the need to be closer to the action. Longtime 20/20 co-anchor Hugh Downs commented that, "Her behavior was really true to her spirit - as a reporter, she always had to be right where the action was."

Walters tripped on her way down through the stands, fracturing her left leg in 5 places. Given the 71 year-old reporter's age, doctors said the injuries could have been life-threatening. Attending veterinarian Dr. Nicholas Meittinis was the first to reach Barbaro Walters, tending to her injuries as best he could. "I gave her a tranquilizer shot to at least ease the pain a bit," he revealed at a press conference later in the day.

As a shocked crowd looked on, Walters was airlifted to the nearest hospital. Her boss at ABC News was devastated, especially considering her stellar performance at the Kentuckistan Derby earlier this month. "Barbaro did such an excellent job at the Derby," he said, "we had the highest ratings of all the networks because of that." Producers were hoping for the "triple crown" of ratings, which would have occurred if Barabaro Walters' broadcast in both the Preakness and the upcoming Belmont Stakes outperformed competing stations. No network has won the Triple Crown since 1982, when Dan Rather achieved the honor for CBS news.

Doctors say that Walters' injuries were very severe, but that the operation performed today was successful and she will recover, although "she will never report again," concluded the lead surgeon. Still, the reporter is lucky - in many such cases the victim is euthanised on site. But given the legendary status of Barbaro Walters, ABC decided to give her a chance and paid the huge medical bill.

It is unclear who will report at the Belmont Stakes for ABC news. Executive Howard Shore said only that "The most important thing right now is that Barbaro is resting comfortably and that her operation was successful." Meanwhile, preliminary ratings indicate the CNN's Wolf Blitzer got the most viewers during the Preakness. Results of the actual horse race were unavailable at press time.

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