Former Miss America Leanza Cornett, who was crowned in 1993, has died at age 49.
Her death was announced late Wednesday by the Miss American Organization on social media.
“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 read. “At the moment, we do not have any further information regarding a service for Leanza and we ask that you please respect her family during this difficult time.”
“Hold on tight to those you love today. Time is certainly precious,” the organization added, with a sign off of “With much love.”
No cause of death was given for Cornett, who was born in Virginia and was raised in Florida. However, NBC affiliate News 4 Jax in Jacksonville, Florida, reported that Cornett had suffered a head injury on Oct. 12, according to a Facebook page monitoring her status.
In 1995, Cornett married Mark Steines, with whom she had two sons, Kai, 18, and Avery, 16. The couple divorced in 2013, according to People, although Steines posted a remembrance Wednesday on Instagram.
“We will always remember the wonderful times shared during her short time here on earth,” he wrote. “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.”
Cornett, who was crowned Miss Florida in 1992, was a contributor for “Entertainment Tonight” after winning the Miss America title. She also portrayed a reporter in numerous TV programs, “The Tick,” “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” and “Weeds.”
In her journey to becoming Miss America, she was the first contestant to focus on AIDS awareness and prevention as her focus. She also declined to wear her crown in public appearances, according to People, saying, “How do you talk about practicing safe sex when you’ve got this thing on top of your head?”
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