Bre Payton, a writer for the conservative news site the Federalist and regular guest on Fox News, died Friday in San Diego after suddenly falling ill. She was 26.
The Federalist confirmed Payton's death, writing in an obituary that the young journalist "became a rising star on cable news."
"Bre brightened the lives of everyone around her," the obituary read. "She was joyful, hard-working, and compassionate, and she leaves behind friends and colleagues for whom she brought nothing but sweetness and light."
According to a Caring Bridge entry shared on Twitter by Federalist publisher Ben Domenech, a friend found Payton "unresponsive and barely breathing" in her room Thursday morning and called 911. Hospital staff later determined Payton was sick with the H1N1 flu and meningitis, the post stated.
"Last we saw her, she was her funny, smart, vivacious self," Domenech wrote on Twitter. "Now lost to us so suddenly."
Morgan Murtaugh, who said she was the one who found Payton, also confirmed Payton's death in a tweet.
"Please send prayers to her family," Murtaugh wrote. "Rest in paradise you beautiful soul."
Meghan McCain, the daughter of late senator John McCain and Domenech's wife, described Payton as "a wonderful, fearless, vibrant, intelligent young woman."
"Ben and I are absolutely gutted and horrified by this news," McCain tweeted. "We are less without her - in every possible way."
According to the Federalist, Payton graduated from Patrick Henry College in 2015 with a degree in journalism. She joined the news site in April 2015.