U.S. gold medalist severs spine in ATV accident

(USA TODAY) Amy Van Dyken Rouen, a six-time Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer, is hospitalized in an intensive-care unit in Scottsdale after suffering injuries in an all-terrain vehicle accident.

Azcentral sports confirmed Sunday that Rouen is in ICU at Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn Medical Center.

David Van Dyken posted on Facebook that Amy, his sister, had been airlifted to Osborn Medical Center after the accident Friday in Show Low. Her husband, former Denver Broncos punter Tom Rouen, said she suffered a broken back. The Associated Press reported that she severed her spine. A letter from the Van Dyken and Rouen families said she severed her spinal cord at the T11 vertebrae and that the broken vertebrae came within millimeters of rupturing her aorta.

Show Low police officers, according to their report, were dispatched to the Torreon Golf Club at 7:55 p.m. Friday after receiving a 911 call about Van Dyken Rouen's accident.

Van Dyken Rouen was conscious but having trouble breathing and without feeling in her legs. A witness saw Van Dyken Rouen driving an ATV through a parking lot and "launch over" a curb. She was not wearing a helmet. The witness said he ran to Van Dyken Rouen, found her unresponsive and called 911.

Rouen told the Denver Post that the ATV tumbled down an embankment. He was on a motorcycle and came to Van Dyken Rouen's aid.

"She wasn't breathing," Rouen told the Post. "I raised up the back of her neck with my hand, she started gasping for air."

Police spoke with Rouen, who said he recently switched the throttle mechanism on the ATV from a thumb accelerator to a twist accelerator and did not know if that was a factor in the accident. The police found no evidence of alcohol being a factor in the accident, and no charges were filed.

Van Dyken Rouen was transported by helicopter to Osborn Medical Center.

Rouen told the Post that his wife was "in good spirits." He added that after surgery "she needed about three days before she is out of the woods. She is strong and has a great attitude."

Van Dyken Rouen, 41, overcame asthma to win the 50-meter freestyle and 100 butterfly at the 1996 Olympics and also was on two winning relays, becoming the first U.S woman to win four golds at one Olympics. She added two more Olympic relay golds in 2000.

She has lived in Arizona in recent years, working in local radio and later nationally for Fox Sports Radio. She swam for the University of Arizona for two years before transferring back to her home state to attend Colorado State. She was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Committee Hall of Fame in 2008.

Jeff Metcalfe writes for the Arizona Republic

Contributing: The Associated Press


To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment