Leanza Cornett, who was crowned Miss America in 1993, has passed away after a gruesome head injury at the age of 49.
The news of her death first broke on a Facebook fan’s page that was following Cornett’s condition after she was hospitalized for the head injury. That post read:
“Dear Disney family
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.
Shortly after, Miss America Organization confirmed the tragic death of Leanza Cornett in a statement reading, “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 for their loss,” the statement reads. “At the moment, we do not have any further information regarding service for Leanza and we ask that you please respect her family during this difficult time.”
According to Leanza Cornett’s fan page, the former Miss America met an accident on October 12. Since then, the Facebook page had been closely monitoring her condition and praying for her speedy recovery. On Saturday afternoon, the post quoted Cornett’s mother, Patti, updating on her daughter’s condition saying, “no news is good news.”
It’s still unclear how former Miss America sustained fatal head injury. A post shared on the fan page on October 18 explained details surrounding the former beauty queen’s condition.
“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,” a post read at that time. “Brian 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.”
Upon the news of her death, Leanza’s ex-husband and veteran television celebrity Mark Steins, offered his condolences to the family and expressed his grief on Instagram.
“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,” he captioned his post with the picture of the deceased. “I find comfort knowing Kai and Avery will forever have the best guardian angel watching over them as they navigate life’s path.”
Mark pleaded fans to keep Leanza’s parents and family in prayers.
A short glimpse at Leanza’s life:
Leanza Cornett was a remarkable woman and a mother of two. Born in 1971 in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, she spent most of her childhood in Jacksonville and graduated from Terry Parker High School in 1989. She was also included in her school’s Hall of Fame in 2006. She was also a student at Jacksonville University.
Source: Getty Images
Cornett was also crowned Miss Florida in 1992. After winning the most prestigious beauty title of Miss America in 1993, she became the first beauty queen to adopt AIDS awareness and prevention as her platform for her year of the service. She was also one of the first Miss America winners to refuse to wear the Miss America crown at public appearances.
Later, Leanza Cornett was casted in a live-action version of “Ariel” in the “Little Mermaid” stage show at Walt Disney World Resort in 1991. She was the first actress to ever play that role.
She served as a host for the most part of her career; she hosted shows like Entertainment Tonight (1994-1995), New Attitudes (1998), and Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire? (2000), and also made guest appearances in multiple TV series including Melrose Place, The Tick, and Fear Factor.
Source: Getty Images
In 1995, she got married to broadcast journalist, Mark Steins on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. Later in 2013, the couple decided to part ways after 17 years of marriage.
Cornett leaves behind two sons- Avery Steins, 16 and Kai Steins, 18.