‘Freak accident’: 20-year-old US college gymnast dies of spinal injuries after training fall

US college gymnast Melanie Coleman has tragically died after suffering a spinal cord injury during training while practicing on the uneven bars.

The 20-year-old gymnast at Southern Connecticut State University was polishing her uneven bars routine at the New Era Gymnastics facility in Hamden on Friday, where her team trains once a week, when the tragic accident occurred.

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She suddenly fell off the bar, seriously damaging her spinal cord. The gymnast was taken to Yale New Haven Hospital, where she died two days later.

"We are heartbroken and stunned by Melanie's passing," Coleman’s coach Mary Fredericks said. "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."

Her coaches and professors describe Melanie as a special young woman, who excelled both in the classroom and in the gym,” Joe Bertolino, said the university’s president, expressing his condolences. “Our deepest sympathies are extended to her family and friends on this tragic loss.”

The gymnast was pursuing a degree in nursing from Southern Connecticut and was named an All-America Scholar-Athlete by USA Gymnastics last year.

Coleman’s family set up a GoFundMe page following the tragedy, describing the heart-breaking accident as "tragic and freak."