Olympic champion Amy van Dyken injured in ATV accident

By Leighton Schneider,

Six-time Olympic gold medalist Amy van Dyken was involved in an ATV accident over the weekend that severed her spine.

Van Dyken and her husband, Tom Rouen, a former Denver Broncos punter, were driving their all-terrain vehicle on Friday, 180 miles east of Phoenix, when the accident occurred. She was airlifted to Scottsdale and underwent immediate surgery. Van Dyken was awake after her surgery on Saturday and she is recovering in the intensive care unit, reports Swimming World .

Van Dyken won four of her gold medals in the 50-meter freestyle, 100-meter butterfly, 4x100 freestyle relay, and the 4X100 meter medley relay at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. She was the most decorated athlete of those Games. She won two more golds in the relay events at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, according to Yahoo Sports .

The Van Dyken and Rouen families released a statement 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.

With love,

The Van Dyken and Rouen families.”

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