SCOTTSDALE, Arizona, June 9. OLYMPIC champion Amy van Dyken was involved in a car accident over the weekend that severed her spine, and the 41-year-old is now recovering from surgery at Scottsdale Osborn Medical Center.
Courtesy of: Swimming World Magaaine
Courtesy of: Swimming World Magaaine
Van Dyken was driving an all-terrain vehicle on Friday in Show Low, about 180 miles east of Phoenix, when the accident occurred. Van Dyken was airlifted to Scottsdale and underwent immediate surgery. The six-time Olympic gold medalist was awake after surgery on Saturday and recovering in intensive care. Her husband, former professional football player Tom Rouen, provided medical care to his wife while waiting for medical personnel to arrive.
According to an article in The Arizona Republic, Van Dyken was thrown from the ATV and was unresponsive when a witness to the accident approached her. Van Dyken was having trouble breathing and could not feel her legs when she regained consciousness.
"The USA Swimming family is devastated to learn of Amy Van Dyken's unfortunate accident this weekend. We're happy to hear that she escaped and is now in great care. That she is already 'acting like her typical spunky, boisterous, ebullient self' shows she's on a great path," USA Swimming said in a statement. "Amy is a champion who has proven throughout her life that she is a fighter who takes on challenges and comes out on top. We know Amy will tackle her rehabilitation with vigor and be back on her feet sooner rather than later."
Van Dyken was the first American woman to win four swimming gold medals at one Olympics, doing so at the 1996 Games. She returned to the Olympics in 2000, winning two relay gold medals. Since leaving competitive swimming, van Dyken has been a famous radio personality as host of several talk shows in the Phoenix and Los Angeles markets. She currently lives in the Phoenix area with her husband.
Below is the full letter from the Van Dyken and Rouen families regarding the accident:
Dear Friends and Family,
On Friday night our sister, daughter, and wife, Amy Van Dyken Rouen, was emergency airlifted to Scottsdale Osborn Medical Center after an ATV accident in Show Low, AZ. Her husband, Tom, was with her at the time of the accident and bravely kept her stable until the helicopter arrived. An amazing team of doctors performed emergency surgery to repair her spine and stabilize her. Amy's spinal cord was completely severed at the T11 vertebrae, but, miraculously, a broken vertebrae stopped within millimeters of rupturing her aorta, and she did not suffer any head trauma. Amy awoke within hours of surgery acting like her typical spunky, boisterous, ebullient self and has spent the last 24 hours entertaining her family and her medical staff in the ICU. She has made at least one male nurse blush. Amy's attitude has been overwhelmingly positive and optimistic. She has been far more of a comfort to us than we have been to her.
Amy has a long, trying road ahead of her, but as anyone who knows her can attest, her unparalleled mental strength and determination will propel her. She is a fighter. Amy has overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles before, winning 6 Olympic gold medals and becoming one of the greatest female athletes of her generation despite battling lifelong chronic asthma. Now this is her new challenge, her new battle. With the unconditional love and support of her friends, family and fans, Amy welcomes the challenges she will face as she opens this new chapter of her life.
Please keep Amy in your thoughts and prayers.
The Van Dyken and Rouen families