Pregnant Olympic runner dies, baby saved
Updated: 2013-07-19 07:55
HARTFORD, Connecticut - A former Olympic and professional runner from Ethiopia who was due to give birth in three weeks has died after collapsing at a Connecticut restaurant, but doctors were able to save her baby, her friends said Wednesday.
Meskerem Legesse,file photo. [Photo/Agencies]
Meskerem Legesse, 26, who lived in Westport, Connecticut, was with her 2-year-old son when she collapsed at a restaurant Monday, said her friend, Fatima Sene. She was transported to a hospital where she died and the baby was saved, Sene said.
The cause of death wasn't clear. Sene said Legesse had suffered heart problems in the past.
"It is very sad. She was a very good person," Sene said. "She would do anything for anybody. And she loved that little boy she left behind."
Legesse ran in the 1,500 meter competition at the Athens Olympics in 2004. She finished 12th in a first-round heat with a time of 4:18:03 and didn't advance to the medal race. She moved on to a professional running career in the United States, competing in events including the Boston Indoor Games, Fifth Avenue Mile in Manhattan and the Millrose Games in New York. She apparently hadn't raced within the past few years.
Legesse's children are now with their father, and arrangements are being made to bring Legesse's body to Ethiopia, Sene said. Legesse was planning to get married to the children's father, she said.
Hamden firefighters and paramedics with American Medical Response were called to the restaurant at about 2 pm Monday and performed CPR on a pregnant woman who collapsed, according to fire and police officials who did not release the woman's name.
Doctors at Yale-New Haven Hospital were able to save the baby because of the CPR efforts both in the restaurant and in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, Hamden Fire Chief David Berardesca said.
A spokeswoman for the state medical examiner's office said the agency declined to perform an autopsy, citing Legesse's past health problems. She declined to elaborate.