Former Sen. Kay Hagan died Monday at the age of 66, according to a statement from her family. “We are heartbroken to share that Kay left us unexpectedly this morning,” reads the statement. Hagan, a Democrat from North Carolina, beat Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole in 2008 and served a single term before losing to Republican Thom Tillis in 2014. Two years later, Hagan was diagnosed with Powassan virus, a rare type of encephalitis—infection of the brain—spread through tick bites, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
“We are deeply grateful for the support shared with our family as Kay worked to regain her strength these last few years after her illness, and we appreciate your continued prayers,” the family said. “Kay meant everything to us, and we were honored to share her with the people of North Carolina whom she cared for and fought for so passionately as an elected official. Most of all, we already miss her humor and spirit as the hub of our family, a role she loved more than anything. Nobody could light up a room and make people feel welcome like Kay.”