MONTCLAIR, NJ - The sudden death of 65-year-old Tom Fleming on Wednesday has rocked the Montclair Kimberley Academy community.
Fleming had been coaching at a track meet in Verona when he suddenly collapsed. Colleagues and police officers rushed to his aide to perform CPR on his unresponsive body, according to Verona Police Chief Stern. An AED (defibrillator) was also tried on him at the field. Stern added, "Verona Rescue Squad and paramedic unit arrived on the scene, provided further medical care, and then transported the victim to Mountainside Hospital."
The news of Fleming's passing spread quickly throughout the community, who took to social media to express shock and disbelief and tributes to the two-time NYC Marathon winner.
Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo released a statement saying, "A two-time winner of the New York City Marathon, Tom reached the pinnacle of being a professional runner. He was an icon in the sport that he loved, and enjoyed coaching and mentoring young athletes. He was a very dear friend who inspired generations with his accomplishments. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family."
Thursday morning MKA officials canceled classes for the middle school, where Fleming worked as a fourth grade teacher. His colleagues also issued a statement saying that Fleming died of "an apparent heart attack while coaching his team at a meet on Wednesday, April 19 in Verona."
Fleming was a fourth grade teacher and the varsity boys and girls head coach in cross-country and track and field.
A native of Bloomfield, Fleming was an American distance runner; 2-time NYC Marathon champion, his colleagues described. Notably, Fleming groomed a number of the top distance runners in New Jersey in the last two decades, including three of the best in MKA school history, schools officials proclaim.