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Cheslie Kryst's Parents Mourn Loss Of Of Beauty Queen Daughter: 'She Was My Best Friend'

Family and friends of Cheslie Kryst opened up about the devastation they feel after she took her own life.

By Chambolion Fairley
Cheslie Kryst

Family members of Cheslie Kryst, who died after jumping from a Manhattan high-rise building on Sunday, have opened up about their devastation at the loss of the beloved beauty queen.

The 2019 Miss USA winner was found around 7:15 a.m. on Sunday below the 60-story Orion building on 42nd St. Paramedics pronounced her dead at the scene. Just before her death, Kryst had been seen on a terrace of the 29th floor. The New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner later confirmed to People that Cheslie’s cause of the death was suicide. 

In an essay, CBS’ Gayle King described a conversation she had with Kryst’s mother, April Simpkins, following her daughter’s death. “Cheslie wasn’t just my daughter; she was my best friend,” she said. Just a few months prior, Kryst had said the exact same thing about her mother, according to King. 

In a 2020 Facebook video tribute to her mother, Kryst said her mom was the only person she wanted at her final state pageant. Her mother had attended every one of them, always clapping and cheering Kryst on. In a note found after her fatal fall, Kryst said she wanted to leave everything she had to her mother — a former pageant queen herself, having been crowned Miss North Carolina in 2002.

“Not only is her family shattered, but everybody who knew or worked with Cheslie is walking around in shock,” King wrote in her essay.

“I cared a lot about this girl—and I thought I really knew her, so that’s what I’m struggling with.” 

Kryst’s grandfather, Gary Simpkins, described their family’s grief to the New York Post: “So hard to imagine one minute they're here and one minute they're not. And you know that the only [way] you’ll ever see them again is when you yourself pass away.”

On the morning of her death, Kryst wrote to her Instagram with a photo, “May this day bring you rest and peace.”

Cheslie’s father, Rodney Kryst, 62, told New York Post in an interview, “I think it had a lot to do with family dysfunction, but it will be a while before we can talk more. She was sad.”

Kryst described how her father, a former bodybuilder, had made her life special. 

“My dad introduced me to athletics. He took my siblings and me to the track every weekend when we were young when we didn’t want to. And he told us endless stories of his bodybuilding days,” she shared in a video on Father’s Day 2020.

“She was pure as can be, she didn’t take any kind of drugs or prescription medication,” Rodney Kryst told New York Post. 

Kryst, 30, was an accomplished woman, not only with her work as a lawyer, but as model and television host for ExtraTV.

“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,” the family wrote in a statement.

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