News

Despite paralysis, swim star Van Dyken in good spirits

Despite paralysis, swim star Van Dyken in good spirits

AMY VAN DYKEN:U.S. swimmer Amy Van Dyken celebrates her gold medal in the women's 100m butterfly July 23 at the Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta. Van Dyken won the race with a time of 59.13. Photo: Reuters

By Keith Coffman

ENGLEWOOD Colo. (Reuters) – Olympic swimming champion Amy Van Dyken said she was excited to be starting her new life on Wednesday as she arrived partially paralyzed at a hospital near her hometown of Denver for specialist treatment after severing her spine in an all-terrain vehicle accident.

Van Dyken, 41, whose six gold medals make her one of the most decorated Olympic swimmers of all time, has put a particularly brave face on her recovery since the accident, chatting warmly with well-wishers on social media and posting photos of her smiling and waving.

The crash happened on June 6 in Arizona and she had six hours of surgery the next day at a hospital in Scottsdale. On Wednesday she was transferred to the Craig Hospital in Englewood, a suburb of Denver where she grew up and where much of her family lives.

“I’m doing alright. Rocking and rolling!” Van Dyken told reporters as she was wheeled from an ambulance into the facility, which specializes in spinal cord and brain injuries.

“I’m feeling great. We’ve got the pain under control. I’m excited to start my new life.”

Van Dyken says she has no feeling from the waist down and does not know whether it will return.

Van Dyken won six gold medals at the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta and the 2000 Games in Sydney, winning in relay races, the 50-meter freestyle and 100-meter butterfly. In recent years she had been a sports radio talk show hostess.

Before flying from Scottsdale to Denver, Van Dyken said her neurosurgeon had advised her and her husband, former Denver Broncos punter Tom Rouen, to say goodbye to each other because of the risks involved.

“It was one of those things where I looked at my husband and basically said, ‘I love you, goodbye, please continue on with your life,’” Van Dyken told reporters from a stretcher.

“I’m so thankful to be alive,” she said, her voice breaking with emotion at times.

Luis Manuel Tumialan, the neurosurgeon who operated on her, said Van Dyken would benefit from having so many family members and friends around her in her Colorado hometown.

“That’s her family nucleus. I can’t put that in a bottle,” Tumialan told reporters.

(Reporting by Keith Coffman; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Bill Trott)

Recent Headlines

in Entertainment

This weekend’s celebrity birthdays

Fresh
diaz

A look at the celebrities who will be celebrating this weekend.

in Music

CHART TOPPERS: This week’s top country tracks

bradpaisley

LISTEN: This week's top country tracks, according to the latest Billboard charts.

in Entertainment

WATCH: 10 best ‘Simpsons’ episodes

In this photo released by Fox, Homer explains why he wants to bring back the annual 4th of July fireworks display, after it's cancelled for budget reasons, in the "Yellow Badge of Cowardge" Season Finale episode of "The Simpsons," in May 2014. The full 25-year run of "The Simpsons" will arrive on cable channel FXX with a summer marathon, to be paired this fall with a digital extravaganza that could turn other TV shows yellow with envy. "I'm not going to over-promise, but I think this website will provide you with affordable health care," longtime "Simpsons" executive producer Al Jean told a TV critics' meeting Monday, July 21, 2014.

The recent marathon of all 552 episodes of "The Simpsons" inspired us to sit down and come up with our 10 favorite episodes. Enjoy!

in Entertainment

Lena Dunham and Kate Mara hit by a falling sign

Lena Dunham, of HBO's "Girls," arrives at the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards held at The Nokia Theatre  in Los Angeles.

The "Girls" and "House of Cards" actresses saw stars of their own after an accident at a Venice premiere.

in Entertainment

Charges dropped against Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s suspected drug dealer

In this Jan. 19, 2014 photo, Philip Seymour Hoffman poses for a portrait at The GenArt Quaker Good Energy Lodge during the Sundance Film Festival, in Park City, Utah. Hoffman, who won the Oscar for best actor in 2006 for his portrayal of writer Truman Capote in "Capote," was found dead Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, in his New York apartment. He was 46.

Drug-selling charges against a friend of late film star Philip Seymour Hoffman have been dropped after officers neglected to read the suspect his Miranda rights.