Cara McCollum, Former Miss New Jersey And Miss America Contestant, Dies At 24 Following Car Accident

Cara McCollum, the former Miss New Jersey who was a Miss America contestant in 2014 has died, following a fatal single-car collision on February 15 that left her with serious brain injuries. She was just 24-years-old.

As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Cara McCollum was critically injured in a car accident along Route 55 in Salem County, New Jersey, on Monday, February 15. It is believed that McCollum was driving too fast along the rain-and-snow-soaked highway, and these conditions caused her to lose control of her Ford Mustang. Police say that after McCollum lost control of her vehicle, she spun off the road, hit a tree head-on, and then proceeded to hit two more trees before her car ultimately came to rest at the bottom of an embankment. It is believed that the 24-year-old beauty queen wasn’t wearing her seatbelt during the crash.

Cara McCollum was rushed to Cooper University Hospital in New Jersey following the accident with extensive head trauma and brain injuries. She was listed as in critical condition. On February 16, Cara underwent brain surgery; her friends and family held a vigil at the hospital, hoping for a miracle. According to the New York Daily News, Cara’s loved ones set up a Facebook page called “Prayers For Cara,” asking followers and fans to keep Cara in their thoughts.

“We’re praying for a miracle, because that’s what it will take for Cara to come back to us. We’re asking you to do the same.”

Unfortunately, Cara McCollum’s family and friends didn’t receive the miracle they were hoping for, and at around 4:30 a.m this morning, February 22, Cara passed away, according to a post made on the Facebook page this morning.

“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. 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.”

Cara McCollum was born in Forrest City, Arkansas, in 1992 and attended Forrest City High School, where she was Valedictorian upon her graduation. In 2010, Cara began school as an English major at Princeton University. She graduated in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in Journalism.

In 2013, at 20-years-old, Cara McCollum won the title of Miss New Jersey, according to Heavy.com. Her platform was “Giving the Gift of Reading,” something she was very passionate about, having created her own non-profit organization called “The Birthday Book Project,” which gives gift-wrapped books to underprivileged children on their birthdays. Cara also competed in the 2014 Miss America Pageant. Her talent was playing the piano despite suffering from a rare tumor that left one of her fingers completely immobile.

After graduating from Princeton in 2015, Cara got a job at a New Jersey-based TV network called South New Jersey (SNJ), working as a news anchor on the television show SNJ Today. Her former co-workers released a statement today following the news of Cara’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. We will miss her terribly.”

Cara McCollum, the former Miss New Jersey and Miss America contestant, is survived by her parents and brother, as well as her boyfriend, Keith Jones, a news anchor at WCAU in Philadelphia. She had turned 24 just a week before the car accident that claimed her life.

[Photo by Mel Evans/AP]