Miss New Jersey Cara McCollum waves as she walks on a runway as Miss America contestants arrive in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on Sept. 3, 2013. McCollum was critically injured when her convertible spun off a highway and hit a tree, state police said Tuesday.

Miss New Jersey Cara McCollum waves as she walks on a runway as Miss America contestants arrive in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on Sept. 3, 2013. McCollum was critically injured when her convertible spun off a highway and hit a tree, state police said Tuesday.

Former miss America contestant critically hurt in car crash

PITTSGROVE TOWNSHIP, N.J. — A former Miss New Jersey who competed in the 2014 Miss America pageant was critically injured when her convertible spun off a highway and hit a tree, state police said Tuesday.

Cara McCollum was northbound on Route 55 in Pittsgrove Township on Monday night when her car veered off the road and struck a tree, then spun again and hit two more trees before ending up in an embankment, police said.

The 24-year-old from Margate was alone in her vehicle and was wearing a seat belt. She remained hospitalized Tuesday in critical condition. Further details on her injuries were not disclosed.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

State police say McCollum appeared to have been driving too fast for conditions on the wet roadway. They do not believe alcohol or drugs were a factor. The car’s air bags deployed.

An Arkansas native who graduated from Princeton University last summer, McCollum won the 2013 Miss New Jersey pageant. At the time, she said she planned to advocate for youth literacy.

McCollum is now an anchor on SNJ Today, a TV news show serving the southern Jersey area.

The show issued a statement Tuesday, saying, “Cara is a beloved member of our SNJ Today family. She and her family are in our thoughts and prayers.”

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