Former UA Wildcat Amy Van Dyken-Rouen was transferred to the world renowned spinal cord injury rehabilitation center at Craig Hospital in Colorado this week.
The six time Olympic gold medalist severed her spinal cord two weeks ago while riding an ATV in Show Low. A witness said Van Dyken-Rouen, who was not wearing a helmet, was seen on an ATV going through a parking lot and launched over a curb. The witness said he ran to Van Dyken-Rouen and found her unresponsive. There was no suggestion of alcohol or drug impairment.
Dyken-Rouen is lucky to be alive. Her injury was so severe a very risky, life threatening, spinal surgery was necessary to avoid a rupture of her heart. The surgery was successful. However, Amy will likely never walk again.
For over the last 35 years I have handled a number of these tragic cases. I have seen both personally and in cases for clients where these vehicles have flipped over hitting a bump on a forest service road, flipped backwards landing on top of the driver on an incline, careened off the side of a canyon on a tight turn in the dirt road, flipping over a bar ditch etc. The message is simple, loud and clear: in my humble opinion, ATVs are just flat out inherently dangerous. Three wheel ATVs are even worse; in fact, they are so dangerous they don't even make those anymore. But 4 wheel ATVs also have their limitations, are much different than driving a motorcycle, car or even bicycle and require special expertise and training to be ridden safely.
As a parent, I tell my kids to stay off of them under all circumstances--period. Hopefully the lesson of Amy's tragic injury will be taken seriously by all of us and keep us off these dangerous devices without proper training and limited practical uses.