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Actor Anne Heche dies a week after road accident

Her family and former partner, Ellen DeGeneres, led tributes to the star of Donnie Brasco and Chicago PD.

August 12, 2022
By Andrew Dalton
12 August 2022

The family of US actor Anne Heche has issued a statement saying that she died from injuries sustained in a car crash a week ago.

They told US online media outlet TMZ: “We have lost a bright light, a kind and most joyful soul, a loving mother, and a loyal friend.”

In a statement, Heche’s son, Homer Laffoon, 20, wrote: “My brother Atlas and I lost our Mom. After six days of almost unbelievable emotional swings, I am left with a deep, wordless sadness. Hopefully my mom is free from pain and beginning to explore what I like to imagine as her eternal freedom.”

Heche’s former partner, comedian and talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres, tweeted: “This is a sad day. I’m sending Anne’s children, family and friends all of my love.”

Confirmation of Heche’s death followed reports she was “not expected to survive” a severe car crash that left her in a coma.

Her family said Heche had suffered “severe anoxic brain injury” and had remained in a coma in critical condition due to the incident, which took place on Friday last week. Heche was “peacefully taken off life support,” spokeswoman Holly Baird said in a statement on Sunday night

The Los Angeles Police Department has confirmed that the incident was being investigated as a felony driving-under-the-influence (DUI) traffic collision.

Anne Heche at The Best Of Enemies New York Premiere in 2019. (Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)

An LAPD spokesman said preliminary blood tests had revealed the presence of drugs in Heche’s system, but added that additional testing was required to rule out any substances that were administered in the hospital.

Hours later, a statement shared on behalf of her family said the actress was being temporarily kept on life support.

“We want to thank everyone for their kind wishes and prayers for Anne’s recovery and thank the dedicated staff and wonderful nurses that cared for Anne at the Grossman Burn Center at West Hills hospital,” the statement read.

“Unfortunately, due to her accident, Anne Heche suffered a severe anoxic brain injury and remains in a coma, in critical condition. She is not expected to survive.

“It has long been her choice to donate her organs and she is being kept on life support to determine if any are viable.”

The statement added: “Anne had a huge heart and touched everyone she met with her generous spirit.

“More than her extraordinary talent, she saw spreading kindness and joy as her life’s work – especially moving the needle for acceptance of who you love.

“She will be remembered for her courageous honesty and dearly missed for her light.”

Heche is known for films including Donnie Brasco, Cedar Rapids and the 1998 Psycho remake.

She also hit the headlines for her relationship with DeGeneres – the pair began dating in 1997 before separating in 2000 – which was controversial at the time.

On August 5, Heche’s car smashed into a house in the Mar Vista area of Los Angeles’ westside. Flames erupted, and Heche, who was alone in the car, was pulled by firefighters from the vehicle embedded in the house. No one in the house was injured.

Pictures and video footage obtained by TMZ following the incident showed Heche driving a blue Mini Cooper, which was later pictured severely damaged at the scene.

The vehicle struck a two-storey home and “erupted in heavy fire” according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Almost 60 firefighters took 65 minutes to access, confine and fully extinguish the stubborn flames within the heavily damaged structure, according to an LAFD report.

Anne Heche (left) is the former partner of US talk show host Ellen DeGeneres. (PA)

Heche sustained a “significant pulmonary injury requiring mechanical ventilation” and “burns that require surgical intervention”, a spokeswoman for the actor said.

Police had said early on Thursday they were still gathering evidence from the crash, and would present a case to prosecutors if it was warranted.

Heche was among the most prominent film stars in Hollywood in the late 1990s, playing opposite actors including Johnny Depp (Donnie Brasco) and Harrison Ford (Six Days, Seven Nights). In a 2001 memoir, she discussed her lifelong struggles with mental health.

She recently had recurring roles on the network TV series Chicago PD and All Rise, and in 2020 was a contestant on Dancing With the Stars.

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