Cheslie Kryst, former Miss NC and Miss USA, dead at 30

Monday, January 31, 2022
Cheslie Kryst, former Miss NC and Miss USA, dead at 30
Cheslie Kryst, the 2019 winner of the Miss USA pageant and a correspondent for the entertainment news program "Extra," has died at age 30.

NEW YORK -- Cheslie Kryst, the 2019 Miss North Carolina who went on to be Miss USA 2019 and a correspondent for the entertainment news program "Extra," has died at age 30.

Police said Kryst jumped from a Manhattan apartment building and was pronounced dead at the scene Sunday morning. Her family confirmed her death in a statement.

"In devastation and great sorrow, we share the passing of our beloved Cheslie," the statement said. "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. But most importantly, as a daughter, sister, friend, mentor and colleague - we know her impact will live on."

WATCH: Signs of crisis are not always obvious, mental health expert says

A psychologist with Alase Center for Enrichment in Durham talks about mental health in the wake of death of Cheslie Kryst.

Kryst, a former college athlete and a North Carolina lawyer who was from Charlotte won the Miss USA pageant in May 2019 and competed in the Miss Universe pageant that year.

When Kryst was crowned, it marked more than a personal triumph: It meant that for the first time, three Black women were the reigning Miss USA, Miss Teen USA and Miss America. Kryst appeared on GMA to highlight the achievement.

Miss USA 2019 Cheslie Kryst seen on May 8, 2019, in New York.
Andy Kropa/Invision

In a statement Sunday, the nationally syndicated program "Extra" called her "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."

The University of South Carolina mourned the former track-and-field student-athlete, calling her "a woman of many talents." Kryst also held an MBA from Wake Forest University.

Republican U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina recalled meeting with Kryst in 2019 to discuss issues affecting their home state.

Carli Batson, the reigning Miss North Carolina wrote on social media that "Cheslie's spirit, selflessness and ability to love boundlessly will never be forgotten. Cheslie has always been such an inspiration to me and so many others. I am still in disbelief. North Carolina holds Cheslie's friends and family in our hearts tonight & forever."

According to police, Kryst's body was found at approximately 7 a.m. Sunday in front of the 60-story Orion building, a high-rise on West 42nd Street in midtown Manhattan.

Kryst posted a picture of herself on social media Sunday morning with the caption: "May this day bring you rest and peace."

Mental health experts say this is a reminder that we should check in on our loved ones.

"We don't often expect someone who from all outside appearances seems to have the world on their plate," Dr. Anthony J Smith, a licensed psychologist, told ABC11's Tim Pulliam. "We don't expect something like this to happen to them, but I think it underscores the necessity for us to realize that we all as human beings are impacted by life events, by feelings, by emotions and none of us are immune to dealing with issues that can cause is pain."

Smith, who is with the Alase Center for Enrichment in Durham, said signs of crisis are not always obvious on social media.

"We should look for signs of isolation, mood changes, loss of appetite and tiredness as warning signs," Smith said, and he added that we must check on our loved ones often, offering support and a listening ear.

If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide or worried about a friend or loved one, help is available. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 (TALK) for free confidential emotional support 24 hours a day 7 days a week or head to its website. You can also reach the Trevor Project at (866) 488-7386 or the Crisis Text Line by texting "START" to 741741.