Former Miss USA 2019 winner and EXTRA TV correspondent Cheslie Kryst, died on Sunday morning in New York City. Her family and the NYPD, who are investigating the circumstances, confirmed her passing to the press. She was 30 years old.
Police were called to the Orion Condominium Building in midtown Manhattan at 7 A.M. on Sunday morning (January 30th) after a body was found on the sidewalk in front. Ms. Kryst was a resident of the luxury building, living on the ninth floor. Initial reports including that of the New York Post stated that she was seen on a terrace on the 29th floor beforehand and it is believed that she jumped from there. The NYPD confirmed that her death was a suicide and that they were currently still conducting investigations as standard procedure in those situations. She had posted a photo of herself to Instagram just hours before to Instagram, the caption simply reading: “May this day bring you rest and peace ❤️”
“In devastation and great sorrow, we share the passing of our beloved Cheslie,” Kryst’s family wrote in a statement released later that day. “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.” A statement from EXTRA posted to Twitter expressed their condolences, saying: “Our hearts are broken. 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.”
Sources on the scene stated that Ms. Kryst had left a note for her mother, leaving all of her possessions to her. There was no motive for her actions revealed in the letter. The Post had come under fire online for posting a photograph of the scene outside of the building where Ms. Kryst’s body was still visible, although shrouded with their reporting. The anger over that move was encapsulated in a tweet by producer and drummer for The Roots, Questlove:
Ms.Kryst became Miss USA in 2019, in a year where she would ultimately make history as being one of five Black women who won major beauty pageants that year. She was also the oldest competitor at 28 to win the title at that time and would reign the longest at 557 days due to delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. She would go on to be a fashion blogger, writing for the White Collar Glam website. In addition, the University of South Carolina graduate became a civil litigation attorney, but still followed her passion for social justice after attaining her master’s and a law degree from Wake Forest University by providing free legal work for prisoners who were unjustly sentenced. She also spoke out about mental health and wellness and her own journey, appearing in a video for Facebook on World Mental Health Day in 2019. Ms. Kryst would also expound on the subject of dealing with mental health during quarantine in a video interview with The Hilltop, a Black collegiate website.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Cheslie Kryst. May she rest in peace.