Belfast Telegraph

Talented athlete dies in second suicide bid on same bridge... could it have been prevented?

By Adrian Rutherford

A woman who died after falling from a flyover onto a busy dual carriageway was a successful athlete who had competed at the Beijing Paralympics.

Emergency services at the flyover two weeks ago, (right) Karen Cromie with Dame Mary Peters and (below) traffic once again brought to a standstill yesterday

Karen Cromie sustained fatal injuries after falling onto the main Bangor to Belfast road – the same spot where two weeks earlier she had threatened to take her life.

The 31-year-old, from Ballinamallard, was a talented rower who was set to compete in the London Games next year.

Today moving tributes were paid to Ms Cromie. It is understood she became depressed after losing the use of her legs after a fall while at university in Edinburgh several years ago.

Police were called to the Holywood Exchange flyover at 6.30am yesterday morning after reports she was in distress.

They closed the road and drafted in a trained 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 earlier she was involved in a similar incident, when emergency services spent eight hours persuading her not to jump off the same flyover.

Questions are now being asked over whether Ms Cromie received adequate mental health care.

Born in Banbridge, she played wheelchair basketball and was a member of the GB Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Team.

After being introduced to rowing, Ms Cromie participated in the world championships in 2007, where she and crewmate James Roberts qualified for the 2008 Beijing Paralympics, where she was part of the mixed adaptive double scull which finished fifth.

Speaking today, David Tanner, the performance director of the GB rowing team, said: “We have all been shocked at the news of the death of someone so young who had been an energetic and successful member of the team and we extend our condolences to her family at this sad time.”

Fermanagh Ulster Unionist councillor Raymond Farrell, who knew Ms Cromie, said the community is in shock.

“Karen was a lovely person with a great personality,” he said. “Despite her disability, she had done so well in the world of sport and achieved so much.

“The fact that she had shown so much fighting spirit makes dealing with her death all the more hard to take. Her father and mother, Alec and Joy, are lovely people, and people are sharing their grief and pain with them.”

Last night, Alex Easton, a member of the Stormont health committee, called for an investigation.

“I am concerned that the woman who died was the same woman in distress at the same spot two weeks ago,” he said. “There must have been a failing somewhere in the system.”

Belfast Trust said it didn’t comment on “individual cases or care”.

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