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The race car driver and TV personality died Tuesday while pursuing a land speed record in Oregon

By Aurelie Corinthios
August 29, 2019 11:31 AM
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Jessi Combs‘ loved ones are mourning her sudden death.

The professional racer and television personality died Tuesday afternoon in Oregon while pursuing a land speed record. Her death was confirmed to PEOPLE by the Harney County Sheriff’s Office, which responded to the scene of the jet-car crash in the Alvord Desert in southeastern Oregon. Combs was pronounced dead at the scene; the cause of the crash is still unknown.

In a statement provided to Jalopnik, the car publication, and other media outlets, Combs’ family remembered her “bright smile, positivity, and tenacious pursuit of the fulfillment of her dreams.”

Jessi Combs
Credit: James Lemke Jr/FilmMagic

“It is with extreme grief, and in celebration of her life that her family and close friends share that race car driver, and TV personality Jessi Combs, passed away in a fatal crash, where she was pursuing a land speed record in the North American Eagle on August, 27th 2019 on a dry lake bed in Oregon,” they began. “The details of the crash have not been released at this time.”

Combs held the title of the “fastest woman on four wheels” after breaking 398 mph in that same North American Eagle Supersonic Speed Challenger in 2013, according to her personal website.

“Jessi was known for her bright smile, positivity, and tenacious pursuit of the fulfillment of her dreams,” the family said. “Her drive was infectious, and she served as a role model for young girls, and women around the world. People that loved her and followed her became family, all bonded together by adventure and passion. Her fans adored her, and she lived to inspire them. Jessi’s most notable dream was to become the fastest woman on Earth, a dream she had been chasing since 2012. Combs was one of the rare dreamers with the bravery to turn those possibilities into reality, and she left this earth driving faster than any other woman in history.”

“Surrounded by her family and friends at the time of her passing, Jessi lived fearlessly and her legacy lives on in the countless lives she touched,” they continued.

According to the family, a celebration of Combs’ life in being planned and a foundation is being created to “continue her efforts to empower women and young girls to follow their dreams.”

Combs’ partner Terry Madden shared a heart-wrenching Instagram post confirming her death on Wednesday, revealing he was the first to arrive on the scene and that they “did everything humanly possible to save her.”

“I have never loved or been loved by anyone as much as this amazing woman @thejessicombs,” he wrote. “She was truly my unicorn and I enjoyed every single minute that I had with her.”

“She was the most amazing spirit that I have ever or will ever know,” Madden continued. “I’m not ok, but she is right here keeping my going — I made her a promise that if this didn’t go well that I would make sure and do good with it.”

Combs, who made a short run of appearances on Mythbusters, was also honored by the stars of the popular science program on Wednesday.

“So sad to hear about Jessi. She was a bada–. Always pushing limits. Sending smiles into the universe for her,” tweeted Mythbusters host Kari Byron, whom Combs filled in for while she was on maternity leave in season 7 of the show.

Added Adam Savage, another host, “She was a brilliant & top-notch builder, engineer, driver, fabricator, and science communicator, & strove everyday to encourage others by her prodigious example. She was also a colleague, and we are lesser for her absence.”

Combs also co-hosted the Spike TV series XTreme 4×4 for five years.