A teen model from Russia died during an assignment in China last week—and now there's a criminal probe by authorities in her home country as to why she died, and how a girl so young found herself in such a position in the first place. The inquiry into 14-year-old Vlada Dzyuba's death could offer insight into whether Vlada—who the Russian consulate in Shanghai says apparently died Oct. 20 of multiple organ failure spurred by a nervous system infection and sepsis—was overworked and whether her illness was exacerbated by work conditions, per the New York Times. Initial media reports noted the Perm teen had gone into a coma after a 13-hour fashion show in Shanghai, though the Times notes the sourcing on that story was iffy and that the show ended Oct. 18 (Vlada didn't start feeling ill until Oct. 24, per a timeline by her Shanghai management company, Esee Model).
Johney Zheng, Esee's chair, says Vlada worked between four and eight hours a day and also got time off while in China, per the Hindu; a rep from Vlada's Russian agency also tells the Times she wasn't overworked. There are also allegations she was underpaid, which Esee denies. Another issue investigators are probing: why Vlada didn't have health insurance, which some speculate may have kept her from being more vocal about being ill. Her contract with Esee, which a scout tells the Times was signed by herself and her mother, apparently mandated she have insurance before traveling, but it appears not to have been put in place; it's not clear who would've been responsible for doing so. Vlada died without family nearby, as her mom wasn't able to get to China in time. "Vlada was such a lovely girl," Zheng told reporters. "We wish that she can have no pain in heaven." (Read more model stories.)