Niki Taylor Improves, Leaves ICU

updated 06/22/2001 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/22/1997 12:00AM

In the long recovery process after her nearly fatal April 29 car crash, supermodel and Cover Girl spokeswoman Niki Taylor, 26, was upgraded to good condition and moved out of intensive care on Thursday, said her physician at Atlanta's Grady Memorial Hospital, Dr. Jeffrey Nicholas. According to the Associated Press, Nicholas said he is "hopeful that Niki will be able to participate in rehabilitation therapy very soon." Taylor had been in critical condition since the accident, lying near death with her duodenum bruised and her liver torn in two, PEOPLE reported in its June 4 cover story. The driver of the car in which she was a passenger swerved off the road when he reached to answer a cell phone. Since then, Taylor has withstood at least four surgeries and on May 16 was taken off a ventilator. Later that day, her family was delighted when Taylor scribbled "drink" on a piece of paper, then spoke her first and only word up until that time: "Coke."

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