3TV Exclusive: Amy Van Dyken-Rouen shares near-death experience

Posted: Updated:
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Three months after a tragic ATV accident changed her life forever, Olympic gold medalist Amy Van Dyken-Rouen, an inspiration to so many, is back home.

Van Dyken-Rouen talked with 3TV's Kaley O'Kelley about her new life and why a positive attitude is everything.

"I never think inspirational," she said. "I think the reason people look at it that way, though, is because I have been hit with this tragic accident and instead of saying, 'Poor me,' 'What if,' 'I should have,' 'I could have,' 'I would have", move on!" That's in the past there's no time for that.

"If you keep dwelling on it, you're going to go down this rabbit hole and you will never come back out," she continued. "And I would love to be happy and smiling, just like I've always have been and move on with it."

While many people describe Van Dyken-Rouen as courageous, brave and inspirational, she describes herself as "silly, crazy, fun-loving." The six-time Olympic medalist told talk-show host Meredith Vieira that she does not see her journey and how she has handled it as courageous.

"I guess that people appreciate the fact that I love life," Van Dyken-Rouen said. "I guess when you almost lose your life a couple of times, you learn to really appreciate it."

O'Kelley summed up Van Dyken-Rouen's effect on those around her.

"She just has a way of making everyone feel so good," she said.

Although Van Dyken-Rouen has accepted her new reality -- more than that, she embraces it -- she maintains the hope -- the certainty -- that she will walk again.

"I do see myself walking again," she said.

Van Dyken told O'Kelley she has never once thought, "Why me?" and is sure that everything, including her wreck, happens for a reason.

"I feel that everything has been predetermined," she explained. "I know it's a weird way to think, but that's the way I look at it. ... This has happened to me for a reason.

"You can't change what has already happened," she continued. "But you can change how you react to what happened."

Van Dyken-Rouen has no memory of the hours leading up to the accident or the crash itself, but she does remember some very specific feelings.

"I felt very enclosed, and it was a white-green hueish -- it was bright, let's be honest -- thing that was around me," she explained to O'Kelley. "I don't know if I was going forward. I felt like I was going forward. And then I remember feeling at peace. I remember feeling good. I remember feeling happy. I remember feeling all those things that you would think that you shouldn't feel during an accident. I felt that, so I don't think it was me going through the trees. It was something else. And the next thing I know, I woke up."

Van Dyken-Rouen appeared on The Meredith Vieira Show Wednesday. The show airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on 3TV.

Related stories