Supermodel Niki Taylor underwent surgery today on her lungs and liver for life-threatening injuries she suffered in a car accident early Sunday.
Taylor, 26, came out of surgery at Atlanta's Grady Memorial Hospital at around 2:30 p.m., according to hospital spokeswoman Denise Simpson. She said Taylor is in critical condition.
Taylor's manager, Lou Taylor (no relation), said in an earlier statement that the Cover Girl model went into surgery at 8 a.m.
Her doctor said earlier in the week that Taylor suffered serious injuries to her liver and duodenum, and her injuries were "life-threatening and would remain life-threatening for several weeks."
Driver: ‘I Was Distracted’
She was hurt early Sunday when the car in which she was riding crashed into a utility pole. She was wearing a seat belt, according to the car's driver, a longtime friend of the model, who also said the 1993 Nissan Maxima did not have a passenger-side air bag.
The driver, Chad Renegar, said he was distracted by his cell phone ringing as he drove down an off-ramp, and when he took his eyes off the road to reach for the phone, he lost control of the car. Renegar and the other passenger were not seriously hurt.
"I was distracted by something that was not part of what I should have been doing at the moment, which was driving," Renegar told ABCNEWS' Good Morning America today. "The result of that has changed the lives of three people and their families.
"Think about things like that. There's nothing on that phone that can be nearly as important as what's going on in front of you."
Renegar told police he lost control of the car near downtown Atlanta. He was given a ticket for striking a stationary object and having no proof of insurance, but police said they did not suspect drugs or alcohol contributed to the accident.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says distracted driving causes one-quarter of the nation's 6.3 million annual automobile accidents, and in some parts of the country there have been efforts to make it illegal to use hand-held phones while driving.
‘We’re All Here for Her’
Taylor initially thought she was unhurt but then suffered stomach pains. Doctors discovered she had sustained severe internal injuries in the crash. She was listed in critical condition before the surgery, and her doctor said Wednesday he does not expect her condition to improve for several weeks.
Dr. Jeffrey Nichols said it will be weeks before he knows whether she will fully recover from extensive liver damage suffered in the car accident.
Taylor's older sister, Joelle Bolline, said earlier that the model had opened her eyes and can nod and squeeze people's hands, but that she was not yet able to speak.
"She knows we're all here for her," Bolline said.
Her parents, Barbara and Ken Taylor, were also at the hospital.Taylor's agent said the model's twin sons, 6-year-old Jake and Hunter, were home in Florida with their father, Taylor's ex-husband, Matt Martinez.
Taylor's younger sister, Krissy, died in 1995 at age 17 after an asthma attack aggravated a rare heart problem.
Taylor, who began modeling at 13, is one of the top-ranked models in the country. She has graced the cover of numerous magazines — including Vogue, Seventeen, Elle, Allure and Marie Claire.