Amy Van Dyken, a six-time Olympic gold medalist, was in an all-terrain vehicle accident on Friday that severed her spinal cord, and initial reports say she is in ICU and is unable to feel her toes or lower legs.
The swimmer was injured in Show Low, Arizona and was airlifted to a hospital in Scottsdale. Though few details have been released regarding her condition, a public statement from her family said that she was in good spirits on Monday after having surgery.
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.
Van Dyken reportedly hit a curb and was thrown off the vehicle; her husband, Tom Rouen, said he had recently changed the throttle to one that can be twisted, but authorities didn’t say whether they think that may have been a factor in the accident.
“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. 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,” said USA Swimming in a statement regarding the accident.
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