Miss New Jersey: Death of 2013 Winner Cara McCollum Announced by Family

February 22, 2016 Updated: February 22, 2016

Cara McCollum, who won Miss New Jersey in 2013, has passed away.

The 24-year-old, who later became a TV news anchor, died less than a week after losing control of her car and slamming into a tree.

The death was announced by McCollum’s family via Facebook.

Thank you all for this tremendous outpouring of love and support for our Cara.

“Thank you all for this tremendous outpouring of love and support for our Cara. We can’t begin to tell you how much your prayers have meant to us in this incredibly difficult time. Cara passed away this morning. Her family was with her in the operating room, and she died peacefully at 4:31am. Before she died, Cara made the selfless decision to donate her organs,” the family said.

“At this very moment, she is saving lives. We’ve prayed constantly for a miracle, and we believe God has answered our prayers. Although it’s not the miracle that we first envisioned, it’s a miracle nonetheless. In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years. Please accept our sincerest thanks for your heartfelt prayers. We all will miss her now that she’s gone.”

Miss New Jersey Cara McCollum waves as she walks on a runway as Miss America contestants arrive in Atlantic City, N.J. on Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013.(AP Photo/Mel Evans)
Miss New Jersey Cara McCollum waves as she walks on a runway as Miss America contestants arrive in Atlantic City, N.J. on Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013.(AP Photo/Mel Evans)

The Arkansas native and Princeton University graduate had spent about six months working at SNJ Today following her pageant days.

The company released a statement following the announcement of McCollum’s death. 

“Cara showed warmth to everyone she met. She was a part of our news team family and we are gratified to have worked with her—even for such a short time,” her SNJ co-workers said. “We will miss her terribly.”

Her boyfriend Keith Jones, also a television anchor, reflected on their time together in a Facebook post.

“Words fall short of describing the pain, but I’m eternally grateful and blessed for the time I spent with Cara,” he wrote. “Her enormous heart enriched my life and changed me forever.”