NEW HAVEN, CT (WFSB) -- A Southern Connecticut State University student has died following a gymnastics training accident on Friday.
Melanie Coleman, a nursing major, died on Sunday, two days after she suffered a serious spinal injury after slipping off the uneven bars.
She was training on an apparatus she had worked on thousands of times.
“Her coaches and professors describe Melanie as a special young woman, who excelled both in the classroom and in the gym,” said SCSU President Joe Bertolino. “Our deepest sympathies are extended to her family and friends on this tragic loss.”
The 20-year-old, from Milford, was named as a Scholastic All-American this year.
For those who knew Melanie, her sudden, tragic death, doing something she loved, is crushing.
"To remember Melanie is to remember her joy and how happy that the sport would make her, and how much she loved teaching the children and giving what she had to make others better," said Thomas Alberti, of New Era Gymnastics.
Her private coach said she achieved level 10 status in the USA Junior Olympics program, one step below the gymnasts seen competing on television.
“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 CT," Alberti said.
She was also all-state at Jonathan Law High School in Milford and was named a Scholastic All-American at Southern.
Not only was she talented, she also continued to give back by coaching and mentoring younger gymnasts at the gym she grew up training at.
“Every gymnast, we have probably 75 kids on the team, and they all looked up to her, wanting to follow in her footsteps, both because of her skill level and the gymnast that she was and she always took the time to talk to even the littlest kids," Alberti said.
Family members say Coleman was able to help others by being an organ donor.
"When I found out about the news, it kind of hurt my heart because it's like, damn, she's a really good person. To hear that happen, I feel bad," said Sharayad Letellier, Coleman's friend.
The university is offering counseling services at Engleman Hall, Room B219, or by calling 203-392-5475 to set up an appointment.
For more information on Counseling Services, click here. Any student needing support may also seek out residence life staff or the Dean of Students’ office.
A GoFundMe page has been created, which can be found here.