Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Tributes flood in for talented athlete who took her own life

Moving tributes have flooded in to the 31 year old woman who fell to her death from a flyover over the A2 (adjacent to the Holywood Exchange) last week.

The tragic circumstances surrounding the death of the “bubbly” Paralympian rower Karen Cromie, have stunned both the local community and the wider disability sporting community. Miss Cromie, originally from Co Fermanagh, returned to the same spot last Friday (January 28), where only two weeks before, she had attempted to end her life.

The director of Disability Sports NI who knew Karen very well, expressed deep sadness upon hearing the news. Kevin O’Neill, said: “Karen was a lovely, bubbly person who was a pleasure to know. Because of her sporting achievements both in wheelchair basketball and adaptive rowing and because she had competed for both GB and Ireland, she was a well known and popular member of the disability sports community.

“She competed at the 2006 World Championships before going on to achieve a fifth place finish in the mixed pairs event at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games.

“Karen was recently named in the Paralympics Ireland Panel of athletes for 2011, and was hoping to represent Paralympics Ireland at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

“Karen was also a member of the Sports Institute for Northern Ireland and represented a new generation of talented and highly successful disabled sports people from Northern Ireland, to be recognised by broader society as elite sports people in their own right.

“The news of Karen’s tragic death has shocked and saddened the whole disability sports community throughout the UK and Ireland. The staff, volunteers and members of Disability Sports NI would like to extend their deepest sympathy to Karen’s family.”

Police were called to the Holywood Exchange flyover at 6.30am last Friday after reports of a woman in distress. They closed the road and drafted in a negotiator, but it was too late.

She died near the Decathlon sports store which had recently selected her for sponsorship as part of its ‘dedicated athlete’ programme.

Two weeks previously emergency services spent eight hours dissuading Karen from ending her life at the same place.

Questions are now being asked about whether she received adequate mental health care.

DUP MLA, Alex Eastonsaid: “The entire community is shocked and will remember her and her family in their thoughts and prayers.”

He called for “a full investigation into the circumstances around her after care”.

A spokesperson from the Samaritans has “strongly urged” anyone in distress or feeling suicidal to share their problems rather than letting them spiral out of control.

“Samaritans is here any time day or night to offer support in complete confidence without judgement, by phone (028) 906 64422, email jo@samaritans.org or visit the Belfast branch at 5 Wellesley Avenue, Belfast.”

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