Olympic swimmer Amy Van Dyken-Rouen suffers broken back in ATV crash

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - An Olympic gold-medal winning swimmer and Scottsdale resident is currently recovering and in good condition at a Scottsdale hospital after breaking her back in an ATV accident.

Amy Van Dyken-Rouen, 41, was reportedly riding an ATV in the Show Low area when she hit a curb and went down an embankment, the Denver Post says.

Tom Rouen, former football player and Van Dyken-Rouen’s husband, told the Denver Post that when he came to help her, she was not breathing. 

When emergency crews arrived on scene, Van Dyken-Rouen continued to struggle to breathe and could not move or feel her lower limbs.

According to multiple reports, she was airlifted to a Scottsdale hospital where she is recovering from a severed spinal cord, but expected to remain in intensive care.

A story from Swimming World Magazine cites a statement from USA Swimming after her 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."

The site also published a statement from the family regarding the incident and her condition:

“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. With love, The Van Dyken and Rouen families.”

Sister station The Denver Channel reports that Van Dyken-Rouen is in good spirits and has been active on social media.

Van Dyken-Rouen competed in the 1996 Olympics where she became the first U.S. female athlete to win a gold medal four times at one Olympics. She won two more gold medals in the 2000 Olympics.

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