Skip to comments.Olympic gold medalist Amy Van Dyken severs spine in accident
Posted on 06/10/2014 1:48:12 PM PDT by Drew68
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Six-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer Amy Van Dyken severed her spine in an all-terrain vehicle accident over the weekend, and told emergency workers she could not move her toes or feel anything touching her legs.
The 46-year-old swimmer, who goes by her married name Van Dyken Rouen, was injured Friday. She was airlifted to a hospital and had surgery to stabilize her spine.
Hospital spokeswoman Alice Giedraitis didn't provide details Monday on Rouen's injuries. She said the swimmer was in good condition.
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.
A report by the Show Low Police Department said the ATV that Rouen was driving hit a curb in a restaurant parking lot and sent her over a drop-off between 5 to 7 feet.
Rouen was found lying on the ground next to the ATV. She was strapped to a backboard and airlifted to Scottsdale Osborn Medical Center.
A witness said he saw Rouen launch over the curb and found her unresponsive when he arrived on the scene, the report said. Rouen was not wearing a helmet at the time.
Her husband, former Denver Broncos punter Tom Rouen, told police officers he had changed the throttle mechanism on the ATV from a thumb accelerator to a twist accelerator a few days before the accident, though wasn't sure if it was a factor in the accident.
He said his wife had not been drinking alcohol that evening.
Rouen starred at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, where she became the first U.S. female athlete to win four gold medals in a single games. She captured the 50-meter freestyle and 100 butterfly and also competed on the winning relay teams in the 400 free and 400 medley.
Four years later at Sydney, she added two more golds in the 400 free and 400 medley relays before retiring from competition.
In 2003, she was among numerous prominent athletes who testified before a grand jury investigating the BALCO doping scandal. Rouen never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs during her career.
"The USA Swimming family is devastated to learn of Amy Van Dyken's unfortunate accident this weekend," the organization said in a statement. "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," it said.
I went to school with her at Colorado State University and while I never knew her personally, she was a real hometown hero to us Coloradoans who cheered her on at the '96 Olympics as she trounced her competition.
Just a sad, terrible story to hear on the news today.
A Quad ? One of the most dangerous piles of junk around
Horrific news. I wish her the best in dealing with this tragic event.
agreed- horrible for anyone but especially for a former Olympian...
Like any vehicle, it’s as safe as the person operating it.
I’ve driven 4-wheelers for decades without incident.
“Rouen was not wearing a helmet at the time.”
she broke her back
There have been a lot of advancements in the treatment of spinal injuries over the last 20 years or so. Prayers up for the doctors’ hands and skills to heal.
The news babe at Fox reported this as “a TV accident” and nobody corrected her through the whole broadcast.
Prayers for VanDyken’s recovery and for reading lessons for Uma.
Prayers up. How tragic.
[ Like any vehicle, its as safe as the person operating it.
Ive driven 4-wheelers for decades without incident. ]
I grew up on a farm with a three wheeler... we are all lucky to be alive despite numerous crashes....
But then again we drove the danged thing all the time and we all had a “feel” for it....
Nothing more “fun” that watching your dad driving towards you at 20 mph hit somethign and flip end over end and wonder if he is dead or not.... still gives me nightmares...
He only cracked a few ribs in that accident... didn’t even see the doctor....
Almighty Father, I ask for whatever degree of recovery You will for her, to Your Glory, and that all their needs be met. I ask this in the Holy Name of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
she broke her back
Boilerplate journalism. Even if you launch a motorcycle into a tree at 140 mph and there's nothing left of you, they'll still mention whether or not you were wearing a helmet.
Why was she driving an ATV in a restaurant parking lot?
A Quad ? One of the most dangerous piles of junk around
She was a pharmacist with a great career and now she lives in an assisted living facility. She’s come a long way, but will never been anywhere near the same.
Terrible and best wishes for a great recovery.
Oh, and clearly we now need to ban guns.
Ah man. You all needed to be regulated by a government agency for sure! >S
Michael Schumacher, perhaps the greatest F1 driver of all time, was wearing a helmet when he had a horrendous skiing accident in late December; he’s still in a coma.
When Lizzie Warren becomes POTUS, she will mandate that we all go around wearing protective airbag suits that make us look like the Michelin Man.
Prayers for her and her family. Here’s some info on spinal cord injuries http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-severed-spinal-cord.htm
“Clinical trials began in 2010 using embryonic stem cells to treat patients with a severed spinal cord after years of studies on animals.”
I’m sure she’ll receive the best possible treatment.
I can't stand the things. I was so relieved when my kid brother finally sold his. It just takes one bad spill to change your life. And while I realize the same thing can be said about many recreational activities (heck, I knew a girl paralyzed after falling off a swing set), quads by their very nature seem to enable a certain element of reckless behavior.
They are brutally unforgiving. You really have to understand and accept the risks involved when operating one. They've put a lot of people in wheelchairs.
Not bad, actually, if you treat it as a tool and not a toy. Drive it as you would a tractor, and you get a similar safety record.
Not that tractors are all that safe, mind you...
The technical stuff is halfway down..
>> Boilerplate journalism.
“The police spokesmen did not comment on whether or not the driver was in possession of an assault rifle or handgun at the time of the accident.”
Is she the swimmer in the “Tommie Copper” ads I have been seeing?
According to a witness, Van Dyken “launched” over a curb Friday afternoon in an ATV area in Arizona known as Torreon ... and plummeted 5 to 7 feet ... before crashing into the ground.
Paramedics raced to the scene and found Amy conscious but unable to move her toes or her feet. She also could not feel anything touching her legs.
According to the crash report, obtained by TMZ Sports, Amy’s husband told officials Amy was NOT consuming any alcohol that evening.
Her husband, Thomas Rouen, also told officials “just a couple days prior he had switched the throttle mechanism on the ATV from a thumb accelerator to a twist accelerator. [He] was unsure if that may have caused a problem in how Amy was used to operating the ATV.”
The report notes Amy was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.
Now, Amy’s family has released a statement saying her husband Tom was by her side when a helicopter arrived to transport her to a hospital in Scottsdale where “an amazing team of doctors performed emergency surgery to repair her spine and stabilize her.”
The family says, “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 Van Dyken-Rouen @amyvandyken · 4h
Making progress.. First day I sat up. Thank you all for the thoughts and prayers. http://instagram.com/p/pEm_ivtZYc/
ATV’s are fun, utilitarian -— and can be dangerous. (Do we want the nanny gov’t to ban everything that can be dangerous? NO!!!!)
I bought a 3-wheeler 30 years ago, and still have it. Because the design was inherently unstable, they are no longer made or sold, and it’s illegal to ride them, except on private property.
Mine has a small, 125cc motor which was adequate for hauling around an adult, even one of considerable girth and weight. It also has a low, high-torque gear range that makes it capable of flipping over backwards under certain conditions. Not long after I bought mine, they started making them with much larger, more powerful motors, and they could go a lot faster - a recipe for disaster for young and/or inexperienced riders. Add a little alcohol to the mix, and watch out!
In my opinion, the risk of accident increases in direct proportion to the inexperience, stupidity and carelelessness of the rider. Like SUVs, the machines, themselves, don’t maim or kill.
But they have no roll bar, and that’s a potential disaster.
Because, unless you’re driving slow on flat pavement all the time, you have 2 choices when they inevitably flip - stay attached to it and get crushed, or get launched airborne.
Yeah, what fun.
In an age when even small lawn & garden tractors have a roll bar, it’s not really necessary to do without one, but I can’t say I’ve ever seen one on a quad ATV or even a snowmobile. Can’t cost all that much, don’t see how it would adversely affect functionality.
A roll bar would not have prevented this woman from severing her spine, however. There are risks in life. Sometimes the adverse ones hit home.
Prayers for this woman and her family.
i thought they were safer than the trikes they were made to replace. i had a couple of them fall on me back in the day while mudding.