An Auburn University gymnast broke both legs while performing at a NCAA regional event in Louisiana on Friday.
Samantha Cerio, a senior aerospace engineering major from North Carolina, was performing her floor exercise at the Baton Rouge Regional Semifinal when, while attempting to make a blind landing on a tumbling pass, the gymnast was unable to stick the landing. The impact dislocated both of her knees and broke both her legs, sources told the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
Video of the incident showed Cerio's legs buckling as she toppled back on the mat. She appeared to clutch her legs in agony, prompting officials to briefly stop the meet. Paramedics placed air casts around both her legs and carried her out on a stretcher, with the audience giving the gymnast a standing ovation.
"It was pretty tough to watch," Auburn's coach, Jeff Graba told Times-Picayune. "She’s a trooper. The last thing she said was, ‘Go help the girls.’ The girls rallied around her. They’re doing this for her right now."
Warning: Video may be disturbing to viewers.
In a post on Instagram Sunday, Cerio wrote the competition Friday night also marked the end to her gymnastic career.
"After 18 years I am hanging up my grips and leaving the chalk behind," she wrote. "I couldn’t be prouder of the person that gymnastics has made me to become. It’s taught me hard work, humility, integrity, and dedication, just to name a few. It’s given me challenges and road blocks that I would have never imagined that has tested who I am as a person. It may not have ended the way I had planned, but nothing ever goes as planned," Cerio wrote.
"Thank you Auburn family for giving me a home and a chance to continue doing the sport that will always be my first love. I am honored to have had the privilege to represent the navy and orange AU for the past 4 years with my team by my side. Thank you for letting me share my passion with you. Thank you for letting me be a part of something bigger than myself."
Cerio was one of the team's top performers, earning All-SEC awards in 2017 and 2018. An aerospace engineer at Auburn, the senior at Auburn has already accepted a job to work at Boeing in Seattle upon her graduation in May.
The Auburn gymnast thanked her supporters on Twitter Sunday night, adding an update about her health.
"I wanted to reach out and thank everyone who has sent me encouraging messages. I truly appreciate all of the support and prayers that I have have received! I am doing well right now and getting lots of rest! From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much!"