Another precious and inspiring life gone too soon… Former Olympic runner Meskerem Legesse has passed at only 26-years-old.
Via NYDailyNews reports:
Tragedy struck this week when a former Olympic runner from Ethiopia who was due to give birth in three weeks collapsed at a Connecticut restaurant and died.
But hero doctors saved the baby, her friends said Wednesday.
Meskerem Legesse, 26, who competed professionally in New York running events, was with her 2-year-old son when she crumpled Monday at a Chinese restaurant in Hamden, Conn., her friend Fatima Sene said.
Legesse was taken to a hospital, where she died, Sene said.
The cause of death was unclear Wednesday. But Sene said the world-class athlete, who was living in Westport, Conn., had suffered heart problems in the past.
The Hartford Courant said Legesse died after a heart attack and Hartford-based WFSB-TV reported that heart issues had forced the runner to stop competing.
“It is very sad. She was a very good person,” Sene said of the young mother.
“She would do anything for anybody. And she loved that little boy she left behind.”
Legesse had ordered takeout and was picking it up with her son when she collapsed, said another friend, Fatima Cisse.
Hamden firefighters and paramedics were called to the restaurant about 2 p.m. and performed CPR, officials said, while Hamden Fire Chief David Berardesca said doctors at Yale-New Haven Hospital were able to save the baby thanks to CPR efforts in the restaurant and in the ambulance.
Legesse ran in the 1,500-meter competition at the Athens Olympics in 2004. She finished 12th in a first-round heat, failing to qualify for the medal race.
Her children are now with their father, and arrangements were being made Wednesday for her body to be taken to Ethiopia, Sene said. The former Olympian had been planning to marry the father of her children, the pal said.
Legesse was itching to visit Ethiopia for the first time in nine years and planning to make to trip after the birth of her second child, WFSB-TV reported.
“She wanted to see her mother, so I want to get her home,” Sene told the station. “I want to make sure she goes home.”
The state medical examiner’s office declined to perform an autopsy, citing Legesse’s past health problems, a spokesman said, disclosing no further details.
It doesn’t get any more bittersweet than this! We are so sad to hear this news, but so happy doctors were able to save her child.
Our prayers go out to her family during this difficult time.