Famed Princeton mathematician John Nash, wife killed in taxi crash

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Princeton mathematician John Nash, seen here arriving to the 74th Annual Academy Awards in 2002, died in a car accident on the New Jersey Turnpike.

A taxi cab crash in Middlesex County on Saturday claimed the lives of famed Princeton University mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr., who inspired the film "A Beautiful Mind," and his wife, Alicia.

The couple were passengers in a cab traveling southbound on the New Jersey Turnpike near Exit 8A in Monroe Township about 4:30 p.m., when the taxi driver attempted to pass a Chrysler in the center lane and lost control, State Police Sgt. First Class Gregory Williams said.

Though the crash remained under investigation Sunday, preliminary evidence indicated the taxi swerved, hit a guardrail, and struck the Chrysler, Williams said.

John Nash Jr., 86, and Alicia Nash, 82, were ejected from the vehicle and died at the scene.

The taxi driver was extricated and taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. A passenger in the Chrysler was taken to Princeton Medical Center with complaints of back and neck pain, which Williams also described as non-life-threatening. Their identities were not released.

Nash, who won the 1994 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, is world-renowned for his groundbreaking work in game theory, the mathematics of strategic thinking. His struggle with schizophrenia was chronicled by journalist Sylvia Nasar in the 1998 unauthorized biography "A Beautiful Mind."

The book inspired an Academy Award-winning film of the same name in which Nash's character was portrayed by Russell Crowe.

The actor took to Twitter Sunday to express his shock and extend condolences to the Nashes' loved ones. "An amazing partnership," he wrote of the couple. "Beautiful minds, beautiful hearts."

Nash was in Norway May 19 to receive the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters' Abel Prize, the most prestigious lifetime achievement award in mathematics. Nash, along with New York University mathematician Louis Nirenberg, were both honored for their contributions to the understanding of partial differential equations, often referred to as PDEs.

The Abel prize cited Nash's "striking and seminal contributions to the theory of nonlinear partial differential equations and its applications to geometric analysis."

Nirenberg told The Associated Press that Nash and his wife, who lived in Princeton Township, had just flown back to the U.S. and were taking a cab home from Newark Liberty International Airport when the crash occurred. It was less than a mile north of the stretch of turnpike where a six-car crash last year severely injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed his friend, comedy writer James McNair.

Rob Tornoe contributed to this report.


Contact Alex Wigglesworth at 215-854-2305 or awigglesworth@philly.com. Follow @phila_lex on Twitter.

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