Former Miss New Jersey dies days after serious car accident

- Former Miss New Jersey Cara McCollum has died just days after being seriously injured in a car accident in Pittsgrove Township, New Jersey.

According to the Facebook community page Prayers for Cara, McCollum died Monday morning at 4:31 a.m.

The post states that she died peacefully and surrounded by family in an operating room. The post also states that before she died, McCollum made the decision to donate her organs.

“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,” the post on the page states.

“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.”

Along with the message, a YouTube video of McCollum performing Anna Kendrick’s rendition of “Cups” was posted as well.

 

Thank you all for this tremendous outpouring of love and support for our Cara. We can’t begin to tell you how much your...

Posted by Prayers for Cara on Monday, February 22, 2016

Cara McCollum was northbound on Route 55 in Pittsgrove Township on the night of February 15 when her car veered off the road and struck a tree, then spun again and hit two more trees before ending up in an embankment, police said.

The 24-year-old from Margate was alone in her vehicle and was not wearing a seat belt. She remained hospitalized the following day in critical condition. A hospital spokeswoman said her family has requested that no further information about her injuries be released.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

State police say McCollum appeared to have been driving too fast for conditions on the wet road. They do not believe alcohol or drugs were a factor. The driver's side front air bag in her car deployed during the crash.

McCollum was an Arkansas native who graduated from Princeton University last summer and won the 2013 Miss New Jersey pageant. At the time, she said she planned to advocate for youth literacy.

McCollum was an anchor on SNJ Today, a TV news show serving southern New Jersey.

Ken Pustizzi, President of SNJ Today issued a statement following her passing:

With tremendous difficulty and profound personal sadness, SNJ Today, its affiliates and member companies acknowledge the passing of SNJ Today Lead News Anchor Cara McCollum who died today from serious injuries sustained in an automobile accident on February 15.

The entire SNJ Today family extends its condolences to the many loyal viewers, colleagues, friends and family of Cara McCollum.  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.

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. Our thoughts and prayers are especially with her parents Rick and Maureen McCollum, her brother Derick McCollum and her boyfriend, Keith Jones, during this difficult time.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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