A 20-year-old gymnast has died after an unusual training accident at her university, according to reports.
Melanie Coleman, a nursing major, suffered the injury on Friday, said the Southern Connecticut State University’s official athletics website. She died two days later.
“At this time, our thoughts and prayers are with Melanie’s family,” the school’s director of athletics, Jay Moran, said in a statement. “This has been devastating to her coaches and teammates and we hope to support them in this very difficult time.
“Her coaches and professors describe Melanie as a special young woman, who excelled both in the classroom and in the gym,” Joe Bertolino, president of the university, said in an email to the campus, the Hartford Courant reported. “Our deepest sympathies are extended to her family and friends on this tragic loss.”
Head coach Mary Fredericks said the school is “heartbroken and stunned by Melanie’s passing.”
“She was an incredibly hard worker and a sweet-spirited young woman. Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to her family at this time. The SCSU Gymnastics team will miss her greatly though she will always be with us,” she said.
Thomas Alberti, Coleman’s former coach, told the Courant that she slipped off a gymnastics bar and suffered the fatal injury.
He called it “an unexpected accident with a tragic result.”
Alberti said he coached Melanie for 10 years, usually for four to five days per week.
“Melanie obtained a level 10 in the country’s Junior Gymnasts Program,” Alberti told the Connecticut Post. “Being a level 10 is all you need to say about her abilities.”
Mayor Ben Blake also said her family has the city’s support.
“Melanie was a world-class athlete,” he said, reported the Post. “This is an absolute tragedy that is reverberating through the entire community. Our thoughts go out to the family during this difficult time. The whole community is devastated by this news.”
Meanwhile, a GoFundMe page was set up for the Coleman family, and as of Monday, it raised more than $30,000. The page said she suffered a “tragic freak accident” before her death.
The organizer said, “Melanie Coleman, the best sister, daughter, cousin, friend and best friend … Melanie and her family need your support. Tom and Sue Coleman have raised five compassionate, kind, and tenacious children. If you have had the experience and pleasure of being a part of the Coleman clan, please return the kindness that Sue and Tom have so generously given throughout their lives. Please send your love, best wishes, and support to the family. At this time, please also respect the family’s privacy.”