Cara McCollum, Miss New Jersey 2013, dies from car crash injuries
Cara McCollum, the former Miss New Jersey who was seriously injured in a car crash last Monday, died early Monday morning.
"Cara passed away this morning. Her family was with her in the operating room, and she died peacefully at 4:31 a,m.," reads a message on the Prayers for Cara Facebook page, which was created by her friends as they kept a non-stop vigil during her hospitalization. "Before she died, Cara made the selfless decision to donate her organs. At this very moment, she is saving lives."
She was 24 years old.
Her family had requested no updates on her condition be released but the Prayers for Cara page had reported she was hospitalized at a New Jersey Level 1 Trauma Center.
SNJ Today, the news organization where she was a news anchor before her death, remembered their colleague on its Facebook page.
"Whether you had the privilege of knowing her or if you enjoyed her newscasts during her all too brief time with us, you know that her smile, determination and sincerity made her a beloved individual," the station wrote. "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. We will miss her terribly."
Donna M Ayres, secretary for the Miss New Jersey Education Foundation, said in an email that "Our hearts are heavy today and we continue to pray for Cara's family as we grieve this loss and try to support each other through this tragedy. She was an exceptional young woman and she will be remembered as a loving soul. She spent her year as Miss New Jersey visiting with children throughout the state, reading books to them and speaking about the importance of literacy, her platform issue at Miss America and one she had continued to promote. We remember Cara most for her sense of humor and love of Taco Bell. The Miss New Jersey Education Foundation is honored to have had Cara as a member of its family."
New Jersey 101.5 host and Miss New Jersey 1995 Dena Blizzard posted on her Facebook page the "Pure and utter sadness at the loss of such a young woman so full of light. The gifts of life she donated to others before she left us truly exemplify her generous spirit that will now live on in so many others.
Many thanks to God and her family for sharing her with the Miss New Jersey family. She will be missed tremendously."
New Jersey State Police said McCollum, 24, of Margate was seriously injured when her Ford Mustang ran off of Route 55 in Pittsgrove Township the evening of Feb. 15 and hit several trees, causing the car's airbags to deploy.
She was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, according to police.
Her demo reel from last year is below: