Tributes mounted Monday for former Miss New Jersey Cara McCollum, who succumbed to injuries a week after her car careened off a highway and into a bank of trees.
Among those posting condolences were McCollum's alma mater, Princeton University, Gov. Chris Christie and current Miss America Betty Cantrell.
"Your loving smile and sense of humor touched everyone around you. Your laugh was contagious," wrote Nina Davuluri, the winner of the 2014 Miss America pageant, in which McCollum competed after becoming Miss New Jersey a year earlier.
Her family was with her at Cooper University Hospital in Camden when the 24-year-old Arkansas native from Atlantic County died peacefully at 4:31 a.m., according to a post on the Facebook page "Prayers For Cara."
The model and news anchor requested that her organs be donated, it says.
"We’ve prayed constantly for a miracle, and we believe God has answered our prayers," the page says. "Although it’s not the miracle that we first envisioned, it’s a miracle nonetheless."
McCollum's family also posted a video of her performing a version of "Cups" from the film "Pitch Perfect."
McCollum was an anchor at SNJ Today, a South Jersey TV newscast, who "showed warmth to everyone she met,” with a “smile, determination and sincerity [that] made her a beloved individual,” station representatives wrote in a Facebook post.
“She was a part of our news team family and we are gratified to have worked with her — even for such a short time,” it said. “We will miss her terribly.”
McCollum, who also worked to promote literacy among inner-city children, was alone in her 2014 Ford Mustang convertible when it slid off northbound Route 44 in Pittsgrove Township on Feb. 15, authorities said.
She wasn't wearing a seatbelt, New Jersey State Police said, adding that they don't believe drugs or alcohol were involved. She apparently was driving too fast for the conditions, they said.
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