Runner Jumps Off Bridge at NCAA Meet
North Carolina State distance runner Kathy Ormsby, who set the collegiate record in the women’s 10,000 meters this year, was hospitalized Thursday with a serious spinal injury after jumping off a 50-foot bridge, police said.
The 21-year-old Ormsby, a junior from Rockingham, N.C., was injured Wednesday night.
The incident occurred after she dropped out of the 10,000 final during the NCAA Outdoor track and field championships at Indiana University Track Stadium.
“What we know is she dropped out of the race at the 6,500-meter point,” Lt. Doug Cox said of the Indianapolis Division of the Indiana University Police Dept.
“Apparently, she left the track stadium, and people believed she had just continued to jog after dropping out. She jogged toward the New York street bridge and then did jump off the bridge.”
The bridge is approximately two blocks from the stadium, police said.
“She was discovered by her coach, Rollie Geiger, and she did say to him at that time that she did jump off the bridge,” Cox said.
Asked about a possible motive, Cox said: “The speculation is that she is a perfectionist and she didn’t think she had done very well. She felt despondent because of the way she was running.”
The police report called the incident an attempted suicide.
Ormsby was listed in serious condition in the surgery intensive care unit at Wishard Memorial Hospital, according to a hospital spokeswoman, who issued a statement from Ormsby’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Dale Ormsby, which read:
“Kathy Ormsby has suffered a spinal injury with spinal cord damage and chest injuries. We are unsure at the present time if the damage is permanent.
“Kathy is awake and alert. She will be undergoing further testing. Any changes in her condition will be released as soon as they become available.”
The spokeswoman said she couldn’t comment on paralysis “until we know more.”
Ormsby set the collegiate 10,000 record of 32 minutes 36.2 seconds on April 24 during the Penn Relays at Philadelphia and was among the favorites in Wednesday night’s race.
Late in the 24-women race, she was in contention near the front of the pack with Stephanie Herbst of Wisconsin, Christine McMiken of Oklahoma State, Ellen Reynolds of Duke and Lisa Welch of Boston University. Suddenly, she dropped out and left the track.
A stadium official said: “Her coach went looking for Ormsby after approximately 10 minutes. He thought she was crying. He was worried.
“He then decided to go by the river, and there she was. She had jumped on to a flood plain.”
Geiger quickly summoned help.
Herbst eventually won the race in 32:32.75, breaking Ormsby’s collegiate mark.
Ormsby is a pre-med major and on the dean’s list at North Carolina State. She has expressed her intention of becoming a medical missionary.