[June 10, 2014](Reuters) - Former Olympic swimming
champion Amy Van Dyken is recovering in hospital after severing her
spine in an quad-bike accident, her family said in a statement on
The family said Van Dyken crashed her all-terrain vehicle on
Friday night and was airlifted to an Arizona hospital to undergo
surgery and was in good spirits.
"An amazing team of doctors performed emergency surgery to repair
her spine and stabilize her," the statement said.
"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 (Intensive
Van Dyken's husband, former Denver Broncos punter Tom Rouen, was
with her when the accident happened and comforted her while waiting
for a helicopter to arrive.
Van Dyken, 41, is one of the most decorated Olympic swimmers of all
time, winning six gold medals during her glittering career in the
At the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, she won the 50 meters freestyle and
100m butterfly as well as winning two relay golds for the United
States. She won another two gold medals in relays at the 2000 Sydney
"The USA Swimming family is devastated to learn of Amy Van Dyken’s
unfortunate accident this weekend. We’re happy to hear that she
escaped and is now in great care," USA Swimming said in a statement.
"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."
(Reporting by Julian Linden in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue)