Olympic gold medalist and swimmer Amy Van Dyken Rouen has severed her spine in a horrific crash, CBS is reporting.
Rouen was riding an all-terrain vehicle when it flipped over a curb in a restaurant parking lot and sent her flying over a drop-off between five and seven feet. A witness who found her said that Van Dyken was unresponsive and didn't appear to be wearing a helmet when the accident occurred. A letter from the Van Dyken family states that she severed her spinal cord at the T11 vertebrae and that it came inches from rupturing her aortic valve.
Rouen, 41, became the first American woman to win four gold medals in a single games when she snagged top honors in both the 50- and 100-meter freestyle events while also being part of the winning relay teams in the 400-meter freestyle and 400-meter medley at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.
“The USA Swimming family is devastated to learn of Amy Van Dyken's unfortunate accident this weekend,” USA Swimming said in an official statement this morning. “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.”
Rouen's husband, former Denver Broncos punter Tom Rouen told the Denver Post that his wife was "in good spirits" and that after surgery, she'd need about three days before she was out of the woods but that she is "strong and has a great attitude."
Best of luck to Rouen as she recovers!