Six-time Gold medalist Van Dyken Rouen severs spine in ATV fall

By Mike Singer | CBSSports.com

Amy Van Dyken Rouen, a six-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer, severed her spine in an ATV accident on Friday and is currently in an intensive care unit in Scottsdale.

She told emergency responders that she couldn't feel anything in contact with her legs, according to the AP and a local police report.

Van Dyken Rouen was reportedly airlifted to the hospital where she underwent surgery to stabilize her spine. A joint letter from the Van Dyken and Rouen families said that she had severed her spinal cord at the T11 vertebra, and that the vertebra came within millimeters of rupturing her aorta.

She's reportedly in "good spirits" and doing well after the surgery.

"Amy awoke within hours of surgery acting like her spunky, boisterous, ebullient self and has spent the last 24 hours entertaining her family and her medical staff in the ICU," a statement from her family read.

A police report said that Van Dyken Rouen had been riding an ATV in a parking lot when she hit a curb that sent her over a drop-off of 5 to 7 feet. She wasn't wearing a helmet.

Her husband Tom Rouen, a former punter for the Denver Broncos, raced over to her and found her unresponsive. "She wasn't breathing," he told The Post. "I raised up the back of her neck with my hand and she started gasping for air."

She's going to remain in ICU for the next several days, but is apparently showing positive signs. "She needed about three days before she is out of the woods," her husband said. "She is strong and has a great attitude."

Van Dyken Rouen won four gold medals (two individuals, two relays) at the 1996 Olympics, and she won two more golds at relay events at the 2000 Games.

 
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