Six-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer Amy Van Dyken, has severed her spine in an all-terrain vehicle accident on friday and has told emergency workers she couldn’t move her toes or feel anything touching her legs. A report by the Show Low Police Department said the ATV 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. She was strapped to a backboard, airlifted to Scottsdale Osborn Medical Center and had surgery to stabilize 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.
Former Denver Broncos punter, Tom Rouen who’s also her husband, 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.
Rouen starred at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, where she became the first U.S. female athlete to win four gold medals in a single game. 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.