Former Miss USA Cheslie Kryst Found Dead in NYC

Police say the 30-year-old lawyer died in an apparent suicide
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 31, 2022 4:07 AM CST
Former Miss USA Cheslie Kryst Dies in Apparent Suicide
Miss North Carolina Cheslie Kryst wins the 2019 Miss USA final competition in the Grand Theatre in the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, Nev., on May 2, 2019.   (Jason Bean/The Reno Gazette-Journal via AP, File)

Cheslie Kryst, winner of the Miss USA title in 2019, has died in an apparent suicide. NBC News reports New York City police say the body of the 30-year-old lawyer was found on West 42nd Street around 7am Sunday. Police say she apparently jumped from a terrace on the 29th floor of a 60-story apartment building, reports Fox News. Her family confirmed Kryst's death in a statement: "In devastation and great sorrow, we share the passing of our beloved Cheslie. Her great light was one that inspired others around the world with her beauty and strength."

In addition to her job with a Charlotte, North Carolina-based law firm, Kryst also worked as a correspondent for the entertainment news program Extra. The AP notes that when Kryst was crowned in May 2019, it was significant in more ways than one: For the first time, three Black women were the reigning Miss USA, Miss Teen USA, and Miss America. She finished in the top 10 at the Miss Universe competition and in December provided commentary at the 2021 Miss Universe pageant, which called her "one of the brightest, warmest, and most kind people we have ever had the privilege of knowing. Our entire community mourns her loss."

In a 2019 interview, Kryst said her mother's 2002 Mrs. North Carolina win inspired her to go for the Miss North Carolina title years later. "I remember watching her win and going to appearances with her during her reign," Kryst said. "Her title provided her with a platform to advocate for issues that were important to her and people listened." Kryst won the North Carolina title on her fifth attempt. USA Today recounts how she told a story during the competition of a judge who advised she wear a skirt rather than pants because judges prefer skirts. "Glass ceilings can be broken wearing either a skirt or pants," Kryst said. (The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available for those in distress: 1-800-273-8255.)

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