Leanza Cornett, Former Miss America, Dies at 49

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Leanza Cornett
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Leanza Cornett has died. The Miss America Organization confirmed the news on Instagram Wednesday, revealing that the 1993 winner was dead at age 49.

"It is with great sadness the Miss America Organization relays the news our beloved Miss America and friend, Leanza Cornett, has passed away," the organization wrote. "Leanza had a bright, beautiful spirit and her laugh was infectious. We know she meant so much to so many, including all of you."

"We are devastated by this sudden loss in our Miss America family and we are deeply sorry for her family and close friends for their loss," the statement continued. "... Hold on tight to those you love today. Time is certainly precious."

Cornett is survived by her two sons, Avery, 16, and Kai, 18, whom she shared with her ex, former Entertainment Tonight host Mark Steines. In an Instagram post on Wednesday, Steines wrote that Cornett, who was also an Entertainment Tonight correspondent, would be "the best guardian angel" to their sons.

"It is with a heavy heart that I share with you the passing of my ex-wife, Leanza the mother to our two extraordinary sons Kai and Avery," he wrote. "We will always remember the wonderful times shared during her short time here on earth. I find comfort knowing Kai and Avery will forever have the best guardian angel watching over them as they navigate life’s path. I ask that you please keep them as well as Leanza’s parents and her family in your prayers."

While no cause of death was provided, the CBS affiliate in Cornett's hometown, Jackson, Florida, reported that she suffered a head injury earlier this month.

Prior to Cornett's death, Elizabeth Tobin Kurtz, the family's spokesperson, told the outlet that the pageant queen had sustained an injury after a fall on Oct. 12 and underwent surgery the following day.

"Leanza Cornett, Jacksonville’s own Miss Florida 1992 and Miss America 1993, is recovering from a fall that required a decompressive craniectomy, performed to relieve pressure, treat brain swelling and manage bleeding," Kurtz said. "Doctors cannot speculate on the time Leanza may need to move through this phase of recovery as every brain injury is different."

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