Olympic swimming legend Amy Van Dyken severed her spine in an all-terrain vehicle accident over the weekend, the Associated Press reported Monday.
Doctors at a Scottsdale, Arizona, hospital performed emergency surgery to save her spine after she told medical workers she could not move her toes or feel anything that touched her legs.
The winner of six Olympic gold medals "launched" over a curb Friday and fell five to seven feet, TMZ Sports wrote. In a report the news site obtained, her husband Thomas Rouen told authorities Van Dyken was not consuming alcohol but was also not wearing a helmet.
"She is strong and has a great attitude,” Rouen told the Denver Post. Van Dyken is in her third day of recovery now.
Her family released an official statement, as quoted by TMZ Sports: "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."
Despite Van Dyken's good attitude, 2000 Sydney Olympics teammate B.J. Bedford Miller is worried.
"You don't want this to happen to anybody, but I don't know of anybody who's more of a fighter, who will figure out a way to look at this positively and find a way to challenge this new world,” she told the Denver Post. “I don't know anyone other than Amy who can do that.”
Follow me on Twitter @mariamzzarella