Cheslie Kryst: Former Miss USA dies after falling from high-rise New York building

Tributes pour in for the former beauty queen, who represented the US at Miss Universe in 2019

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Former Miss USA Cheslie Kryst has died after falling from a high-rise building in New York on Sunday.

Kryst, 30, a lawyer, won the competition in 2019 and also worked as a presenter on the entertainment news programme Extra in the US.

Her body was discovered at the foot of the 60-storey Orion building in Manhattan at around 7.15am (GMT). Police have confirmed she took her own life.

Shortly before, Kryst posted on her Instagram, writing: “May this day bring you rest and peace.”

“In devastation and great sorrow, we share the passing of our beloved Cheslie,” the former beauty queen’s family said on Sunday.

“Her great light was one that inspired others around the world with her beauty and strength. She cared, she loved, she laughed and she shined.

“Cheslie embodied love and served others, whether through her work as an attorney fighting for social justice, as Miss USA and as a host on Extra,” they said. “But most importantly as a daughter, sister, friend, mentor and colleague – we know her impact will live on.”

Who was Cheslie Kryst?

Born in Michigan, Kryst followed in the footsteps of her mother, April Simpkins, a former Mrs North Carolina, in pursuing pageantry. As a teenager, she won several local titles, before competing for the crown of Miss North Carolina. On her second attempt in 2017, she placed as first runner up, but when winner Caelynn Miller-Keyes was unable to take part in Miss USA due to filming of the reality television show The Bachelor, Kryst was called up, and eventually went on to win the title as Miss USA 2019.

The same year, she represented the US in the Miss Universe competition, where she placed in the top 10.

Kryst became the longest reigning Miss USA due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Her reign lasted 557 days until November 9, 2020, when she crowned Asya Branch of Mississippi as her successor.

As well as her pageantry career, Kryst worked as lawyer, often pro-bono for low-level drug offenders. She also founded a fashion blog, White Collar Glam, dedicated to helping women dress professionally for white collar jobs.

In 2019, she started working as a presenter for Extra, which continued until her death. She often appeared on red carpets to interview stars, speaking to the likes of Rihanna and Lady Gaga.

“Our hearts are broken,” Extra said in a statement. “Cheslie was not just a vital part of our show. She was a beloved part of our Extra family and touched the entire staff. Our deepest condolences to all her family and friends.”

Tributes

Following the news of her death, several people have paid tribute to Kryst.

MJ Lastimosa, Miss Universe – Philippines 2014, wrote on Twitter: "The news about Miss USA 2019 Cheslie Kryst is devastating. Please constantly check on your family members and friends. Mental health crisis is real and oftentimes it doesn’t show."

American academic and television personality Marc Lamont Hill commented on her last Instagram post, writing: "Love you, Ches. I pray that you rest in eternal peace and comfort."

Blogger and social media star Iris Caldwell wrote: "May our love always surround you!!"

Updated: January 31, 2022, 7:09 PM