Education

Samantha Smith Killed in Crash

By Lynn Olson — September 04, 1991 1 min read

The schoolgirl who captured hearts around the world two years ago when she corresponded with the late Soviet leader Yuri V. Andropov about her fear of nuclear war, died last week in a plane crash at the age of 13.

Samantha Smith, her father, four other passengers, and two crew members of a turboprop plane operated by Bar Harbor Airlines were killed Aug. 25 when the plane crashed one-half mile from the Auburn-Lewiston, Me., airport. The cause of the crash is still unknown.

The Smiths were on their way home to Manchester, Me., from England, where Samantha had been filming episodes for the television series “Lime Street,” with Robert Wagner, to be premiered this fall. Samantha was to play one of two daughters of a widowed insurance investigator.

The television series was the latest of Samantha’s accomplishments. She first gained public attention in 1983, when Mr. Andropov responded to her plea for peace by inviting her and her family to the Soviet Union for an all-expenses-paid tour, which they accepted.

She later wrote a book about her visit to Russia, interviewed Presidential candidates for cable television, and appeared on a number of television talk shows.

The girl’s death was widely reported in the Soviet press, according to the Soviet Embassy. Vladimir Kulagin, a cultural attaché of the Soviet Union, attended the funeral in Augusta, Me., last Wednesday.

Samantha, who turned 13 in June, had just completed 7th grade. She was the only child of Jane and Arthur Smith.

A version of this article appeared in the September 04, 1985 edition of Education Week as Samantha Smith Killed in Crash