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Former Olympic swim star Amy Van Dyken severs spine in accident

PHOENIX — Former Olympics swimmer Amy Van Dyken-Rouen was paralyzed after an accident while off-roading near Show Low on Friday.

Van Dyken-Rouen, 41, was hurt while riding an all-terrain vehicle in an area called Torreon. She was then flown to a hospital in Scottsdale, where she was in intensive care after severing her spinal cord.

On Monday released a statement from the families.

Dear Friends and Family,

On Friday night our sister, daughter, and wife, Amy Van Dyken Rouen, was emergency airlifted to Scottsdale Osborn Medical Center after an ATV accident in Show Low, AZ. Her husband, Tom, was with her at the time of the accident and bravely kept her stable until the helicopter arrived. An amazing team of doctors performed emergency surgery to repair her spine and stabilize her. 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. She has made at least one male nurse blush. Amy’s attitude has been overwhelmingly positive and optimistic. She has been far more of a comfort to us than we have been to her.

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. Amy has overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles before, winning 6 Olympic gold medals and becoming one of the greatest female athletes of her generation despite battling lifelong chronic asthma. Now this is her new challenge, her new battle. With the unconditional love and support of her friends, family and fans, Amy welcomes the challenges she will face as she opens this new chapter of her life.

Please keep Amy in your thoughts and prayers.

With love,

The Van Dyken and Rouen families

On Sunday she sent a tweet from Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn Medical Center.

A witness at a nearby restaurant told police that he heard Van Dyken-Rouen start up the four-wheeler and saw her head toward the golf cart path.

He then saw her hit a curb and go airborne toward an area with a 7-foot drop. After a lengthy search, officers found Van Dyken-Rouen on the ground and struggling to breathe, the report said. She told first responders she couldn’t feel her legs or move her toes and she had pain in her back.

The six-time gold-medal winner also posted a picture to her Instagram account drawn by her niece and nephew to cheer her up. She used the hashtag “hospitalsSuck.”

A Google Maps search found an approximate image of the crash site.