The bizarre car crash that led to the death of actress Anne Heche, aged 53
A week after her freak car accident of Friday, August 5, Anne Heche was still in a coma and on life support. Her family announced the difficult news to the press: there was no hope for her anymore.
Kept on life support, the actress' body was being prepared for possible organ donations, a representative told the press. The Washington Post confirmed statements from the family that the actress was "brain dead" a week after her accident.
On Tuesday, a representative had already prepared the world for the bad news. They said the 53-year-old actress was in "extreme critical condition" and had "not regained consciousness since shortly after the accident."
Her injuries of the lungs and skin tissue were the result of a bizarre series of car crashes on August 5. They ended in a fire that lasted an hour. The actress was rescued from her car after 30 minutes, while the house she had crashed into burnt down completely.
According to TMZ, the actress drove a blue Mini Cooper when she crashed into an apartment complex in Mar Vista (Los Angeles) on Friday morning.
The incident, consisting of two collisions into the same complex, has stirred controversy because the actress was allegedly intoxicated and refused to leave her car after the first crash.
Image: KCAL / KCBS via CNN
It was a bright, sunny morning at 11:00 am when Anne Heche first hit a garage door in the Mar Vista apartment complex. A neighbor asked her to get out of the car, but the actress sped backward, apparently trying to flee at full speed, and then hit the garage of a second house. Much of the scene was caught on video.
Image: KCAL / KCBS via CNN
The second house she hit caught fire along with the actress's car. It was completely destroyed. The inhabitant and her pets were rescued, but all of their belongings were gone.
According to the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD), 59 firefighters took 65 minutes to "access, confine and fully extinguish the stubborn flames within the heavily damaged structure." They had managed to save the actress from the car after approximately half an hour.
The Daily Mail reports that some neighbors had initially tried to rescue the actress as she was trapped in the burning car. One of them, David Manpearl, "asked Heche if she could raise her hand to see if she was ok. She said no and made some grunts."
Image: KCAL / KCBS via CNN
The LAPD announced that they are investigating both the crash and a previous misdemeanor hit and run. They took blood tests from the actress and found traces of cocaine and Fentanyl, TMZ reports. It's not clear whether these helped cause the tragedy, though.
Over the weekend, a source close to the actress told media outlets that she was in the ICU, in stable condition, and "lucky to be alive." Within a few days, however, that outlook turned more grim and her condition became 'extreme critical.'
The source also confided to the media that Heche's "team and her family are still trying to process what led up to the crash." It was not just them processing the events, however. Videos of Anne Heche nearly hitting a pedestrian right before the accident have circulated online and led to accusations of reckless driving and intoxication.
Shortly before the accident, Anne Heche had made some unnerving comments on the podcast 'Better Together' which she hosted together with Heather Duffy. The actress said in a rambling manner that she was having a "very bad day."
While it is unclear when the podcast was recorded, its release came on Friday morning, right before the accident. In the aftermath of the crash, the episode was removed.
"Today's been a very unique day," the actress was heard saying. "I don't know if you ever have them, but some days -Mama says- are... some days are those no good very bad days. And I don't know why some days just end up like this, and things don't really rock me like that."
Image: 'Better Together' podcast
The combined audio of the podcast and video of the incidents have led news media to suggest that the actress was having mental issues and may have used substances while driving. For one, Salon.com and the LA Times have recalled that Anne Heche had a "history of mental health struggles."
Anne Heche won an Emmy Award for her role in the soap opera 'Another World' and appeared in 90s' films like 'Psycho,' 'I Know What You Did Last Summer,' 'Donnie Brasco,' and 'Six Days Seven Nights' (image, with Harrison Ford).
Her private life became the topic of news stories when she dated Ellen DeGeneres for three years in the late 90s. In the aftermath of the relationship, Anne Heche claimed that she had lost out on movie contracts because of an anti-gay tendency in Hollywood studios. She even said she was 'blacklisted,' The Independent reports.
Yet, over the course of her career, Anne Heche made quite a few friends in Hollywood. Alec Baldwin, who co-starred with her in the 2004 play 'Twentieth Century,' posted a video on his Instagram account in which he said: "There's not a lot of women I've worked with that are brave in the way that Anne is brave." He added: "Sending my love and support to @anneheche"
While social and news media debated Anne Heche's history with substance abuse and mental illness, Rosanna Arquette weighed in on the issue, posting a diplomatic message on her Twitter account.
"I will always have compassion for anyone who is suffering a mental health crisis like Anne Heche," she tweeted, "driving under the influence and clearly not ok by putting others lives in danger." Arquette clearly felt sorry for both the driver and the woman whose house was destroyed. "So tragic and scary, thank God no one else physically burnt."
Actor Thomas Jane, who was Anne's partner between 2019 and 2020, also spoke out on the matter. "While Anne and I are no longer an item, today's tragic news was devastating to me and to all who love her," he told the Daily Mail.
Peter Facinelli, Anne's costar in the 2021 movie '13 Minutes,' posted a photo with her on Instagram while sending his prayers to the actress and her family.
Anne Heche has two sons with two former partners, one of them being actor James Tupper. He shared a photo of the actress and their 13-year-old son.
"Thoughts and prayers for this lovely woman, actress and mother tonight," he wrote next to the image. "Anne Heche, we love you."
As colleagues, family and fans say goodbye to Anne Heche, the hardest struggle will be that of her two sons, Atlas and Homer.