Olympic Champ Severs Her Spine in ATV Crash
Crash almost killed swimmer Amy Van Dyken Rouen
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Jun 10, 2014 2:55 AM CDT
In this Aug. 16, 2000 photo, Amy Van Dyken, right, hugs Dara Torres after Torres won the finals of the women's 50-meter freestyle at the US Olympic Swimming Trials in Indianapolis.    (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)

(Newser) – One of America's greatest Olympic swimmers is in the hospital with a severed spine after an all-terrain vehicle accident that almost killed her. Amy Van Dyken Rouen, 41, was airlifted to the hospital after the crash in Arizona, reports the AP. She is now in good condition, but her family says the broken vertebrae she suffered in the crash came within millimeters of rupturing her aorta. At the 1996 Olympics, Van Dyken Rouen overcame chronic asthma to become the first American woman to win four gold medals at a single Olympics. She added two more golds in 2000.

After the ATV tumbled down an embankment, Van Dyken Rouen "wasn't breathing," her husband tells the Arizona Republic. "I raised up the back of her neck with my hand; she started gasping for air." He says she is now in good spirits despite the injury. "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," her family writes in a letter to Swimming World. "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."

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Showing 3 of 13 comments
Jun 10, 2014 4:27 PM CDT
Man, I feel for this woman... My father was a couple vertebrae away from being paralyzed when he broke his neck and the recovery was still hell... Luckily, he was able to walk (and eventually move normally) again. My family and a close friend have agreed to help me end it, if I'm ever in a situation of being a quadriplegic, and would understand if I didn't myself if I were to lose use of my legs. It isn't a nice thing to think about, but I've known people in the situation, and though some paraplegics can live relatively decent lives, for the most part, it just isn't any way to live... It's not something I would wish on anyone. I really hope things get better for her.
Jun 10, 2014 3:26 PM CDT
Most likely "hot-dogging."
Mighty D
Jun 10, 2014 3:01 PM CDT
Wish you a speedy recovery, poor girl. Too sad you don't get tons of love like Tracy Morgan did because of his two bit fame, but get well.