Six-time Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer Amy Van Dyken Rouen severed her spine in an all-terrain vehicle accident in Show Low, Ariz., over the weekend.
A police report obtained by The Associated Press stated that Rouen was driving the ATV in a restaurant parking lot when she hit a curb that “sent her over a drop-off between five to seven feet.” She was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. A witness found her unconscious on the pavement and called 911.
According to The AP, Rouen told emergency workers that she could not move her toes or feel her legs. The 46-year-old was airlifted to Osborn Medical Center in Scottsdale after the accident, and she is in an intensive-care unit as she recovers from surgery she had to stabilize her spine.
Rouen is said to be in good condition, according to hospital spokeswoman Alice Giedraitis.
At the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Rouen became the first U.S. female athlete to win four gold medals in a single Games. She won the 50-meter freestyle and 100 butterfly while also capturing golds in two relays. Rouen added two more golds in Sydney in 2000 before announcing her retirement.
“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.”
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