Former Miss Teen Universe Lotte van der Zee has died at age 20 after falling ill during a ski trip and being placed in a medically-induced coma.
The model and pageant winner had been on vacation in Westendorf, Austria, with her family when she suffered cardiac arrest, the New York Post reported. The Holland-based model was taken to a hospital in Munich, Germany, but died on Wednesday. Lotte had just celebrated her 20th birthday, the report added.
“Our pearl, our everything passed away on Wednesday evening March 6th at 22:47. It is incredibly surreal that our dearly beloved Lotte is not around us anymore,” the family wrote on Instagram. “Our hearts are truly broken. We would like to thank you all again for all the support and heartwarming messages.”
The post turned into something of a memorial for Lotte, with many fans and followers sharing condolences and mourning the loss of a life cut short so young.
Lotte van der Zee’s cause of death remains something of a mystery. Her parents told a Dutch newspaper that the 20-year-old was out with friends the night before she suffered cardiac arrest and appeared to be in good health and good spirits, but did not show up for a family breakfast the next morning. When they looked for her, family members found Lotte in her bed unresponsive, the New York Post reported.
The young model’s social media gave no clues of possible medical problems. Lotte van der Zee was active both in her duties as Miss Teen Universe after winning the competition in 2017, and in her own life, frequently sharing pictures of trips to ski resorts, sun-soaked trips to Mexico where she lounged on the beach, and plenty of workouts.
Lotte van der Zee is not the only member of the Miss Universe family to suffer a tragic death in recent weeks. Back in January, a finalist in the 2014 Miss Universe Jamaica pageant died following a long battle with lupus. As the Lifestyle Inquirer reported, Zandrea Bailey died in a New York City hospital where she had been for several weeks as the condition worsened.
Friend Jade McLaren said in an interview that Bailey was a kind-hearted person, who used her fame to spread awareness about lupus.
“She used the foundation to reach out to other girls who also suffered from lupus. Some she helped financially, others just emotionally,” McLaren said. “She knew what they were going through, and she was able to help them by talking to them and letting them know they were not alone.”
Family members said that medical examiners will be conducting more testing to determine Lotte van der Zee’s cause of death.