(WFLA/CNN Newsource) – Family, friends and coaches are mourning the loss of a 20-year-old gymnast in Connecticut.
Melanie Coleman, a junior at Southern Connecticut State University, died Sunday, two days after suffering a spinal injury in a training accident.
“I coached her close to 10 years, four to five days a week, three hours plus, for each workout. We were very close,” said Thomas Alberti of New Era Gymnastics. “She loved gymnastics her entire life, you can’t blame gymnastics, the equipment, or the coaching.”
According to WFSB, Coleman was practicing on the uneven bars on Friday when she slipped off and suffered a serious spinal injury.
She passed away Sunday at Yale New Haven Hospital, her family said on Facebook.
“Tonight, heaven has gained a beautiful angel. Rest in peace Melanie,” the post said. “We love you, are blessed and thankful you brighten all the lives you touched. In Melanie’s final act of unselfishness, she was able to provide life to others.”
“People from all over Connecticut have been reaching out to me and many of them knew Melanie because she was such a high-level gymnast, she was well known through the state of Connecticut,” Alberti said.
Alberti says even with her college commitments, she was still a part of her old gym family, coaching younger kids as a staff member. And last year, the nursing major was named a Scholastic All-American by the Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics Association.
“We are heartbroken and stunned by Melanie’s passing. She was an incredibly hard worker and a sweet-spirited young woman,” her college coach said in a statement. “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.”
A GoFundMe page created for Coleman has raised more than $45,000 as of Sunday night. The university has been offering counseling services to help students cope.