College gymnast dies of spinal injuries after practice accident

Melanie Colemanhttps

Melanie Colemanhttps

While neither Alberti nor the school elaborated on the injury, the Connecticut Post reported that Coleman suffered damage to her spinal cord while practicing on the bars.

Melanie Coleman, a decorated gymnast and junior nursing student attending Southern Connecticut State University, died on Sunday after sustaining a devastating accident during gymnastics practice on Friday.

She had previously made it to the top level of the USA Junior Olympics Program. "Melanie was not at fault".

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

Ken Sweeten, a spokesperson for Southern Connecticut State, confirmed to CNN Monday that Coleman fell during what he described as a "routine training exercise" on the uneven bars.

'It was an unexpected accident with a tragic result, ' Coleman's former coach, Thomas Alberti, told the Hartford Courant. "She was a role model all our students could look up to".

Counselors will also be available at Jonathan Law High School to help students, staff and alumni cope with Coleman's death.

'She was an incredibly hard worker and a sweet-spirited young woman.

At Southern, Melanie Coleman followed in the academic and athletic footsteps of her sister Tiffany, who is two years older.

University spokesman Patrick Dilger said the precise cause of death and "circumstances of her slipping" have not yet been determined.

A statement released by Melanie's uncle on behalf of the entire family on Monday read, "She was a loving daughter, sister, cousin, teammate, and best friend".

"Melanie was an extraordinary young lady that positively touched all that knew her", Nelson said in a statement.

Mayor Ben Blake also said her family has the city's support.

She also gave back to her community, volunteering as a youth instructor at New Era Gymnastics in Hamden.

"Our lovely Melanie comes from an unbelievable large family. That was evidence of the type of family she came from and the kind of person she was".

Melanie's family has set up a page , as well as a page that coordinates meal donations to the family at .