Sunday morning shocker

By Alex P. Vidal

“There is no refuge from confession but suicide; and suicide is confession.”—Daniel Webster

WHILE monitoring the Winter Storm Kenan in a Midtown Manhattan building on East 51st Street, we were greeted by a “flash” report Sunday (January 30) morning that a woman had leaped to her death from a Midtown high-rise, a luxury 60-story Orion building at 350 West 42nd St. around 7:15 a.m. and was found dead in the street below.

The place is a 30-minute walk away from where I stayed since Friday (January 28) night when the powerful blizzard started lashing at the Northeast.

That morning, I was planning to write about the four casualties, all

Long Island male residents, who collapsed shoveling snow in the same small town, as a nor’easter blanketed New York and much of the Northeast on Saturday (January 29).

I told a friend earlier that in the past blizzards, some of the dead suffered a heart attack while digging out, which is exactly what happened. The men were digging out during the storm, which dumped a foot of snow onto New York City and between 18 to 24 inches across Long Island.

About 2:30 p.m. on January 29, a 75-year-old man collapsed while shoveling snow on Barbara Drive in Syosset, a hamlet in Nassau County, it was reported.


Meanwhile, it didn’t take for the police too long to identify the fatality in the Midtown Manhattan incident as Miss USA 2019 Cheslie Kryst.

I learned later that day she worked as a reporter for ExtraTV.

It was the New York Post who first came up with a detailed story before noontime.

Kryst, 30, a lawyer by profession, reportedly posted on her Instagram page, “May this day bring you rest and peace” shortly she jumped.

“In devastation and great sorrow, we share the passing of our beloved Cheslie,” the former beauty queen’s family said in a statement Sunday.

“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,” her family said. “But most importantly as a daughter, sister, friend, mentor and colleague—we know her impact will live on.”

Kryst lived on the ninth floor of the building and was alone when she jumped and was last seen on a 29th-floor terrace, according to the New York Post.


Kryst reportedly left behind a note saying she wanted to leave everything to her mother, a former pageant competitor herself who was crowned Mrs. North Carolina in 2002. New York Post said the note didn’t include a motive for Kryst’s actions.

“Not only beautiful but she was smart—she was a lawyer,” a police source said of Kryst. “She has a life that anyone would be jealous of. … It’s so sad.”

Kryst, a former Miss North Carolina, won top honors at the 2019 Miss USA pageant, wearing a sparkly winged outfit for the National Costume competition, a nod to Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.”

“Our hearts are broken,” the company said in a statement. “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.”

Kryst spoke out on Facebook for World Mental Health Day, offering tips on how she coped with stress in October 2019.

“I do a lot to make sure that I maintain my mental health,” she said. “And the most important thing that I did is talk to a counselor. She’s really easy to talk to. She gives me great strategies especially if I’m sad or happy or have a busy month ahead of me.

“When I’m not talking to my counselor, I spend time at the end of every single day to just decompress,” Kryst added. “I unplug, I shut my phone off, I don’t answer messages. I just sit and watch my favorite movies.”

She discussed the issue again in an interview with The Hilltop in 2020.

“There are three things that I’m doing with regard with self-care,” Kryst said. “No. 1, I try to set a regular schedule so my alarm rings every day at 6:45. I know that I’m getting up and I’m starting my day.

“Two, I try to set very clear boundaries, so even though I’m at home and I’ve got my computer, my phone with me, I’m done answering emails at 6 o’clock, I’m not responding to messages. It’s over.”

Third, she said, “I have a regular workout schedule that keeps my body healthy and my mind sharp.”

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)