Former beauty queen and local news personality Cara McCollum was surrounded by her family when she died early Monday morning. She was 24.
On Feb. 15, McCollum -- who was Miss New Jersey in 2013 and went on to work for SNJ Today in Millville, New Jersey -- was driving down Route 55 in Pittsgrove Township, Salem County, just before 7 p.m. when her car spun off the road and hit a tree head-on, police told Philadelphia's NBC10.
"Cara passed away this morning. Her family was with her in the operating room, and she died peacefully at 4:31 a.m.," the Prayers for Cara Facebook page shared on Monday. "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.
In a statement released after McCollum's tragic death, Miss America Organization said, "Cara was a vibrant, intelligent, and exceptional young woman who was a proud advocate for women's education and a talented news anchor at SNJ Today. She exemplified the values of the Miss America Organization, and it has been a privilege having her as a part of the Miss America family."
"We are deeply saddened to learn of Cara's passing," Josh Randle, Chief Operating Officer of the Miss America Organization added. "She was an extraordinary young woman, and we extend our deepest condolences and continued prayers to her family and friends."
Keith Jones, McCollum's boyfriend of two years and a reporter at NBC10, was also in the operating room when she died. "I'm eternally grateful and blessed for the time I spent with Cara," he posted on Facebook. "Her enormous heart enriched my life and changed me forever."
Both Jones and Prayers for Cara thanked those who had been supporting McCollum during her last days. "Thank you all for this tremendous outpouring of love and support for our Cara," read the Facebook statements. "We can't begin to tell you how much your prayers have meant to us in this incredibly difficult time."
Just days before her death, Jones Instagrammed a sweet pic of him and his girlfriend, writing, "She is the light of my life, the greatest thing to ever walk into it, my everything. She brings warmth, comfort, and purpose to my life. She has given so much of herself and touched thousands of people through her selfless efforts and unending passion for #charity."