After suffering a head injury earlier this month, former Miss America Leanza Cornett has passed away. She was only 49.
The Miss America Organization confirmed her death on Wednesday, sharing a statement to Facebook about the great loss of the 1993 crowned winner. While details are scarce, they paid tribute to the one-time pageant queen, writing:
“Leanza had a bright and beautiful spirit and her laugh was infectious. We know she meant so much to so many, including all of you. 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. 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.”
It’s being reported the Jacksonville, Florida native was hospitalized after sustaining a serious head injury from a fall on October 12. Elizabeth Tobin Kurtz, a friend and spokesperson for the star, told CBS News affiliate WJAX-TV how the very next morning, Leanza underwent surgery. In a statement released at the time, Kurtz revealed:
“Leanza Cornett, Jacksonville’s own Miss Florida 1992 and Miss America 1993, is recovering from a fall that required a decompressive craniectomy, performed to relieve pressure, treat brain swelling and manage bleeding. Doctors cannot speculate on the time Leanza may need to move through this phase of recovery as every brain injury is different.”
Leanza’s mother Patti Cornett also shared a few words:
“Right now, need to give her body time to heal. No news is good news.”
The momma of two clearly had many in her corner fighting for her recovery, including one individual seemingly going by the name of Sue who posted an update yesterday to the FB page “Leanza Cornett’s Circle of Love.” They disclosed:
“I’m here to let you know Leanza passed this afternoon. She was so loved. I don’t feel like writing a lot right now; my heart is broken. Sue.”
Ten days earlier, on October 18, they had also explained more about the damage Leanza sustained:
“She sustained an enormous blow to the back of her head. The surgery she had on Tuesday was to stop the bleeding in her brain. Right now there is some continued bleeding and swelling. Brain injuries are not black and white. We have to just take this day by day. She has an incredible medical team taking care of her.”
Cornett’s ex-husband, Mark Steines, reacted publicly to her passing, as well. In a heartbreaking statement on Instagram, he described their two boys gaining a new “guardian angel”:
“It is with a heavy heart that I share with you the passing of my ex-wife, Leanza the mother to our two extraordinary sons Kai and Avery. We will always remember the wonderful times shared during her short time here on earth. 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.”
Our thoughts are with her loved ones during this difficult time.
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