CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS/AP) — A former Miss America contestant who was critically injured in a car crash on a New Jersey highway last week has died.
Her family and the TV station where she worked say Cara McCollum died at Cooper University Hospital early Monday.
The 24-year-old from Margate was alone in her vehicle and was not wearing a seatbelt when her car spun off a roadway last Monday night.
Her family says in a Facebook post that she died with her family by her side in an operating room. Her organs had been donated.
McCollum won the 2013 Miss New Jersey pageant. The Arkansas native went to Princeton University and was an anchor on SNJ Today, a news show serving the southern New Jersey area.
“She was just such a down to earth person, so she will be greatly missed,” said SNJ Today Chief Operating Officer Frank DiMauro.
For those who knew her, remembering Cara McCollum is easy.
“She was beautiful, she was smart she was giving, she was generous. She started her own not for profit for literacy,” said DiMauro.
It’s coming to grips with her loss that’s tough on colleagues.
“Cara was the kind of person that when she walked into a room it just lit up,” said DiMauro. “She was just the heart of our entire station, I don’t know any other way to say it.”
Though they greatly feel the loss, they say her presence was a gift.
“For however short it was, we were truly blessed to have her as a part of our organization,” said DiMauro.
The team has decided to air a half hour tribute to Cara instead of the news Monday night. No word yet on funeral services.
(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)