'Bad News Bears' remake actress dead in suspected DUI crash
The actress who played a Little League pitcher in the remake of “The Bad News Bears” died early Wednesday from injuries suffered in an apparent drunk-driving related crash on the Santa Monica Freeway, authorities said.
Sammi Kane Kraft, 20, was a passenger in an Audi that rear-ended a tractor-trailer about 1:30 a.m. near the Crenshaw Boulevard exit of the freeway, a California Highway Patrol spokesman said. The disabled Audi she was riding in was then struck by a Toyota Scion.
The driver, identified as Molly Adams, 21, of Santa Monica was treated for serious injuries at California Medical Center. The truck driver was treated for minor injuries. Kraft was pronounced dead at Cedars Sinai Medical Center from unspecified injuries, the CHP and a family member said.
Officials with the California Highway Patrol said Adams was booked on suspicion of felony driving under the influence.
As a 13-year-old, Kraft was chosen to play pitcher Amanda Whurlitzer in "Bad News Bears," the remake of the 1976 hit comedy about a coach of a hapless Little League baseball team. The role had been made famous by Academy Award-winning actress Tatum O'Neal.
O'Neal played opposite Walter Matthau in the original while Billy Bob Thornton
starred in the role of the gruff, hard-living coach Morris Buttermaker in the remake.
Kraft, who heard about the role from a friend, had never acted professionally before "Bad News Bears” but knew a lot about sports having played baseball and basketball where she was often the only girl on the team.
"I throw a knuckleball, a knuckleball curve, a curveball, a changeup, a 70-mph fastball, a two-seam fastball and a four-seam fastball -- the whole thing," Kraft told Times staff writer Susan King in a 2005 interview.
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-- Andrew Blankstein and Valerie J. Nelson
Photo: Sammi Kane Kraft, left, with Billy Bob Thornton and Tanner Boyle. Credit: Deanna Newcomb/Paramount Pictures.