Auto accident claims 21-year-old Tahoe woman: 2002 South Tahoe High graduate was a UC Santa Cruz student |

Auto accident claims 21-year-old Tahoe woman: 2002 South Tahoe High graduate was a UC Santa Cruz student

Amanda Fehd

Samantha Urch

Friends and family mourned the loss Thursday of a bright and athletic young woman who grew up in South Lake Tahoe. Samantha Louise Urch impressed those who knew her with an ever-present smile and soft-spoken demeanor.

Urch, 21, died early Thursday morning in a single-car crash on Highway 50 in Meyers.

Her 1994 Dodge Caravan swerved across an oncoming lane of traffic and hit two large trees around 3 a.m., according to the California Highway Patrol. Urch was wearing a seat belt and was the only person in the vehicle.

The 2002 South Tahoe High graduate and UC Santa Cruz student was good with children and had an honest and peaceful quality about her, said Michelle Souer, director of the child development center at Lake Tahoe Community College, where Urch worked on and off for about four years.

“She was the most genuinely sincere person I’d ever met,” Souer said. “She had a heart of gold. The kids she cared for just adored her. I never heard her raise her voice. She just had a peace about her.”

Urch is survived by a sister, Sara, and her mother and father, Louise and Steven Urch, of Meyers. Attempts to contact the family were unsuccessful.

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As a South Tahoe High School student, Urch took advanced placement courses and was on the swim team, cross country team and played golf. She was completing a degree at UC Santa Cruz and recently returned to South Shore after traveling in Europe, friends said.

Former high school swim team coach Dale Bogard remembered Urch from the time she was as a baby in her mother’s arms. One recent summer, she signed up herself and her mother for master’s swimming. Bogard said the family was very close.

“She was beautiful on the inside and out,” Bogard said. “She could and would swim any event for the team. She was the backbone of the team.”

Other swim team members recalled her as fun loving, soft-spoken and liked by everyone.

About a month ago, she got a job at the Meyers Bob Dog Pizza.

“She was one of the nicer people I’ve known,” said Brian Schwartz, Bob Dog’s owner. “She was just sweet as can be (and) never had a bad day. She was always happy about something.”

South Tahoe High School associate principal Jack Stafford interviewed her for a swim coach position at the beginning of summer. He remembers Urch as being upbeat and a solid student.

“This is just a tragedy,” Stafford said.

Authorities said the cause of the crash was still under investigation.