An accident on the New Jersey Turnpike has claimed the life of Princeton mathematician John Nash and his wife Alicia according to New Jersey State Police.

John Forbes Nash
John Forbes Nash in 2005 (China Photos/Getty Images)

The couple were passengers in a Ford Crown  Victoria traveling south from Newark Liberty Airport on the Turnpike in the car lanes near #8A (Jamesburg) on Saturday afternoon when the driver, Tarek Giris. 46, of Elizabeth,  lost control trying to pass another car, a Chrysler Concorde, and hit the guard rail. State Police say the Nash's appear to have not been wearing seat belts and were ejected from the rear of the car. State Police say both John and Alicia died at the scene.

The driver of the Concorde, Lisa Farrell-Hoyte, 41, of The Bronx was not injured while passenger Anastasia Reid, 69, also from The Bronx, was treated for neck injuries at Princeton Hospital. Giris was trapped in the Crown Victoria and flown to Robert Wood Johnson Hospital in New Brunswick for a non-life threatening injury.

State Police continue to investigate the accident. The Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office has not filed any charges in the crash.

The southbound car lanes of the Turnpike were closed at #8A (Jamesburg) for several hours with traffic diverted through the  parking lot of the Molly Pitcher service area just south of the interchange.

John Nash's life was the subject of the film "A Beautiful Mind" with Russell Crowe portraying the 86-year-old and his struggles with paranoid schizophrenia. reports he had been in Norway on Tuesday to receive the Abel Prize for Mathematics from King Harald V.  University mathematician Louis Nirenberg, who was also honored, says Nash was a truly great mathematician and "a kind of genius."

John David Stier, Nash's son with his first wife, said he learned of the death Sunday morning. "It's very upsetting," he said.

John and Alicia Nash's home in Princeton Junction
John and Alicia Nash's home in Princeton Junction (Brian McCarthy On Scene News)

"We are stunned and saddened by news of the untimely passing of John Nash and his wife and great champion, Alicia. Both of them were very special members of the Princeton University community," said Princeton University President Christopher Eisgruber in a statement on the school's Facebook page."Both of them were very special members of the Princeton University community.

In an autobiography written for The Nobel Foundation Web site, Nash said delusions caused him to resign as a faculty member at M.I.T. He also spent several months in New Jersey hospitals on an involuntary basis. However, Nash's schizophrenia diminished through the 1970s and 1980s as he "gradually began to intellectually reject some of the delusionally influenced lines of thinking," he wrote.

The 2001 film "A Beautiful Mind" won four Oscars, including best picture and best director, and generated interest in John Nash's life story. The movie was based on an unauthorized biography by Sylvia Nasar, who wrote that Nash's contemporaries found him "immensely strange" and "slightly cold, a bit superior, somewhat secretive."

An accident investigation in the southbound car lanes of the New Jersey Turnpike
An accident investigation in the southbound car lanes of the New Jersey Turnpike (NJ DOT)

Much of his demeanor likely stemmed from mental illness, which began emerging in 1959 when Alicia was pregnant with a son. The film, though, did not mention Nash older son or to the years that he and Alicia spent living together after divorcing. The couple split in 1963, then resumed living together several years later and finally remarried in 2001.

Born in Bluefield, W. Va., to an electrical engineer and a housewife, Nash had read the classic "Men of Mathematics" by E.T. Bell by the time he was in high school. He planned to follow in his father's footsteps and studied for three years at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh (now Carnegie Mellon University), but instead developed a passion for mathematics.

He then went to Princeton, where he worked on his equilibrium theory and, in 1950, received his doctorate with a dissertation on non-cooperative games. The thesis contained the definition and properties of what would later be called the Nash equilibrium.

Nash then taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for several years and held a research post at Brandeis University before eventually returning to Princeton.



The Associated Press contributed to this report

Below is a video shot just a few months ago of John Nash giving a speech on Game Theory's influence on public policy.

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