updated 3/14/2006 10:42:13 AM ET 2006-03-14T15:42:13

The reigning Miss Deaf Texas died Monday afternoon after being struck by a train, officials said.

Tara Rose McAvoy, 18, was walking near railroad tracks when she was struck by a Union Pacific train, authorities said. A witness told Austin television station KTBC the train sounded its horn right up until the accident occurred.

McAvoy, who had been deaf since birth, won the state title in June and represented the state “with dignity and pride,” state pageant director Laura Loeb-Hill told the Associated Press via e-mail Monday night.

McAvoy was to have represented Texas at the Miss Deaf America pageant this summer, Loeb-Hill said.

McAvoy graduated last year from the Texas School for the Deaf, attended Austin Community College and then started at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., in January, but had returned to Texas, Loeb-Hill said.

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