Anne Heche Dead at 53, Official Cause of Death Ruled: A Timeline of Her Fatal Car Crash

By
This video is unavailable because we were unable to load a message from our sponsors.

If you are using ad-blocking software, please disable it and reload the page.

Anne Heche crashed her blue Mini Cooper into a home a little before 11 a.m. PT on Friday, Aug. 5, in the Mar Vista neighborhood of Los Angeles. It took nearly 60 firefighters to rescue her from the wreckage that ignited a fire that raged so out of control, Heche was rushed to a nearby hospital with burns, and the home became uninhabitable. 

The fiery car crash, it would later become clear, was her third car crash within a 30-minute span. On the heels of the tragic news that Heche was taken off life support and her official cause of death being confirmed by the LA County Medical Examiner-Coroner's Office, ET is taking a closer look at the days and moments leading up to her horrific accident and what we know now.

Heche's vodka and wine-drinking podcast episode drops 

It's been reported that Heche recorded a since-deleted episode of her Better Together podcast in which she claimed to have been drinking vodka "with wine chasers" after being "rocked" by a "very bad day."

The episode dropped Friday, hours before her crash, leading some to speculate the crash happened after recording the episode. But, in a statement to ET, the show's podcast producer Ryan Tillotson said that the episode was, in fact, recorded earlier that week. 

"The episode was recorded on the Tuesday before the episode was released, and has been removed due to inaccurate reporting. Any reports that she recorded that episode on the day of the accident are false," he said. 

Heche purchases a red wig minutes before series of crashes  

Heche popped into the Glass Hair Design salon in Venice and purchased a red wig. The salon's located just two miles from the fiery crash site. ET spoke exclusively with the salon's owner, Richard Glass, who said the actress randomly came into his hair studio and made the purchase moments before crashing her car.

Glass revealed that although the encounter happened minutes before the accident, he didn’t observe anything out of the ordinary about the star. “She wasn’t speaking in cursive, I say that when people are impaired,” he told ET's  Lauren Zima on Tuesday, Aug. 9.

“They speak in cursive like slurring your words. But she wasn’t, she was very, very cordial. Very personable and very polite,” Glass continued. “The whole encounter was maybe 10 minutes, it wasn’t huge, but it was strange all the same and random.”

He added, “It was an amazing, kind interaction.”  

Glass then told ET that moments after Heche left the salon, he heard about the crash via social media.  

“I heard it through social media first,” the owner said. “I posted it [the picture]  and I went back to work and then I hear my alert go off and from there I see she was in a crash. And I'm like floored. I’m like 'oh my gosh' and I'm just praying I hope she’s okay.” 

Heche crashes into apartment complex garage

Heche reportedly first crashed into the garage of an apartment complex. According to TMZ, residents at the apartment complex tried getting Heche out of the vehicle, but witnesses told the outlet she put the car in reverse and sped off.

Video obtained by TMZ later showed the blue Mini Cooper following the collision. You can hear a man purportedly shouting at Heche to get "out of the car." The outlet also posted a photo of Heche inside her car, and it shows what looks like a red wig sitting on the passenger side of the center console.

Heche narrowly misses hitting pedestrian, hits car

Another video later surfaced showing the vehicle speeding down an alley and narrowly missing a woman walking on the sidewalk. In that video, the Mini Cooper doesn't seem to slow down nor does it make an attempt to swerve in an effort to avoid hitting the woman, who was then seen throwing her hands in the air out of pure dismay.

Shortly after narrowly missing the woman, TMZ reported that the Mini Cooper was involved in another car collision, this time hitting a Jaguar. The outlet reports that, after striking the vehicle, Heche took off. The driver of the Jaguar was not injured, TMZ reported.

Moments later, video obtained by CBS Los Angeles shows the blue Mini Cooper traveling at a high rate of speed before it's involved in the third crash of the day. The video, captured by a Ring doorbell camera, also has audio where you can hear the moment the Mini Cooper makes impact with the house.

Heche crashes into two-story home, igniting fire

A public information officer for the Los Angeles Police Department told ET that, at 10:55 a.m., a vehicle collided into a residence located at the 1700 block of Walgrove Ave, though they would not identify the driver, describe the car they were driving, name the hospital or disclose any injuries.

Per the LAPD, the vehicle became engulfed in flames and the driver was transported to a local hospital for medical treatment by an ambulance. 

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Fire Department said that the solo passenger vehicle in question struck and came to rest well within a 738-square foot two-story home, causing structural compromise and erupting in heavy fire prior to LAFD arrival.

Per the LAFD, 59 firefighters took 65 minutes to access, confine and fully extinguish the stubborn flames within the heavily damaged structure, and rescue one female adult found within the vehicle, who was taken to an area hospital by LAFD paramedics in critical condition. No other injuries were reported, the LAFD said.

Video captured by CBS Los Angeles showed the carnage left behind after Heche crashed her car into a home. At the time, TMZ reported that Heche had to be intubated in the hospital but was expected to live. The cause of the crash remained unclear. 

Heche "expected to pull through"

Following the horrific car crash, Heche's ex-boyfriend, actor Thomas Jane, said she's "expected to pull through."

He released a statement to the Daily Mail and provided an update on her condition amid her hospitalization. "While Anne and I are no longer an item, today's tragic news was devastating to me and to all who love her," he said. "My heart goes out to Anne and her two sons. As of right now Anne is stable and expected to pull through. My thoughts and prayers are with Anne, one of the true talents of her generation. Thank God no one else was hurt."

She's in stable condition

A rep for the actress told ET the day after the crash that she was in stable condition. The rep also shared that Heche suffered burns in the crash.

"Her family and friends ask for your thoughts and prayers and to respect her privacy during this difficult time," the rep continued.

The cause of the accident remained under investigation, the rep added.

Heche slips into coma, in "extreme critical condition"

On Monday, Aug. 8, ET learned that Heche had slipped into a coma. Her rep told ET, "At this time Anne is in extreme critical condition. She has a significant pulmonary injury requiring mechanical ventilation and burns that require surgical intervention."

The rep continued, “She is in a coma and has not regained consciousness since shortly after the accident."

ET had also learned that by that evening, Heche had been moved to the Grossman Burn Center in West Hills.

Heche's injuries, explained

Dr. Michael L. Cooper, director at the Staten Island University Hospital Burn Unit and who is not involved in treating Heche, tells ET that, based on the information released about her injuries, the actress is fighting for her life.

"Anne has sustained life-threatening injuries," he said. "She sustained an inhalation injury, which means there was damage to her airways. She could not breathe on her own, and she also sustained third-degree burns, which require surgery. So, these are life-threatening injuries. She is fighting for her life right now."

Cooper said Heche being trapped in her car inside the burning home compounded the severity of the crash. 

"She was in an enclosed space, a car, as well as an apartment, so that allowed smoke -- as well as toxic gasses -- to build up at a high concentration, which attacked her airway and prevented her from breathing," Cooper added. 

The doctor also explained the extent of Heche's latest health update.

"She cannot breathe on her own. She sustained smoke inhalation. She inhaled a lot of smoke, which damaged her airway and thus she cannot breathe on her own," he said. "She had to be placed on mechanical ventilations or she would have died at the scene. So, the first responders did an excellent job getting her to a medical facility. And then the appropriate treatment was rendered on a mechanical ventilator so she could breathe. She could not breathe on her own because of her injuries."

Heche under investigation for DUI, hit-and-run

The actress is under investigation by the LAPD for misdemeanor DUI and hit-and-run, in relation to the fiery car crash.

LAPD officials told ET on Monday, Aug. 8, that investigators obtained a warrant for a blood draw the day of the crash, and are investigating what role drugs or alcohol may have played in the frightening collision.

According to the LAPD, once the results of the blood draw are determined and the investigation is completed, the case will be handed over to the LA City Attorney's office.

A spokesperson for the L.A. City Attorney's Office told ET that its office "has not been referred a case by LAPD in the matter at this time."

Heche had "narcotics" in her system

A spokesperson for the LAPD told ET on Thursday morning that the actress "had narcotics in her system" after her fiery car crash. Law enforcement sources told multiple outlets that cocaine was found in the 53-year-old actress' blood.

"Anne Heche is now being investigated for Felony Traffic DUI," the LAPD spokesperson told ET. "Right now, what has been found is a presence of narcotics in her system, however additional testing is required because we have to rule out additional substances administered at the hospital."

Heche suffered a brain injury, rep reveals she's "not expected to survive"

"Unfortunately, due to her accident, Anne suffered a severe anoxic brain injury and remains in a coma, in critical condition," the actress' rep said in a statement to ET on Thursday evening, on behalf of her family. "She is not expected to survive."

"It has long been her choice to donate her organs and she's being kept on life support to determine if any are viable," the statement explained.

"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," the statement concluded. "She will be remembered for her courageous honesty and dearly missed for her light."

Heche dead at 53

While the actress' heart is still beating, she is brain dead, which is the definition of death according to California law. In a statement to ET on Aug. 12, the actress' rep added she had not been taken off life support in order to allow OneLegacy Foundation enough time to find organ recipients who will be a match."

"Today we lost a bright light, a kind and most joyful soul, a loving mother, and a loyal friend," the statement read. "Anne will be deeply missed but she lives on through her beautiful sons, her iconic body of work, and her passionate advocacy. Her bravery for always standing in her truth, spreading her message of love and acceptance, will continue to have a lasting impact."

Heche's 20-year-old son, Homer, also said in a statement to ET, "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."

"Over those six days, thousands of friends, family, and fans made their hearts known to me," he added. "I am grateful for their love, as I am for the support of my Dad, Coley, and my stepmom Alexi, who continue to be my rock during this time. Rest In Peace Mom, I love you."

Family devastated 

A source told ET, "Anne's friends and family are absolutely heartbroken by her passing. They are devastated beyond belief."

The source added, "It's even harder because they feel as though they have to be on the offense while grieving the loss given the negative press surrounding  the circumstances of the crash."

LAPD no longer investigating Heche car crash

In a statement to ET, the LAPD said on Aug. 13, "As of today, there will be no further investigative efforts made in this case. Any information or records that have been requested prior to this turn of events will still be collected as they arrive as a matter of formalities and included in the overall case."

The statement added, "When a person suspected of a crime expires, we do not present for filing consideration."

Heche 'peacefully' taken off life support, set to donate organs

Heche was peacefully taken off medical assistance on Sunday, Aug. 14, as her organ recipients had been identified.

9-1-1 call captures frightening moments after her crash

On Aug. 16, newly released 911 audio from the aftermath of the crash, first obtained by TMZ, revealed a terrifying scene where neighbors were frantically trying to get authorities to come as quickly as possible and stop the flames from spreading.

The person who called 911 told the dispatcher that Heche's car went through the house "very fast." At the beginning of the call, it was not immediately clear if the caller knew Heche was in the vehicle at the time of the crash. But, as more neighbors moved into the wreckage to help, the severity of the situation became clear. 

As billows of dark smoke and fire enveloped the vehicle, neighbors could be heard in hysterics, yelling that someone was trapped in the vehicle. The caller then worked to get a water hose to the scene, in an attempt to stop the flames.

Official cause of death revealed

The LA County Medical Examiner-Coroner's Office officially confirmed Heche's cause of death to ET on Aug. 17, stating that the actress died as a result of smoke inhalation and thermal injuries due to her fiery car crash.

RELATED CONTENT:

Anne Heche Under Investigation for DUI, Hit-and-Run for Car Crash

Anne Heche in a Coma and in 'Extreme Critical Condition' After Crash

Anne Heche: Podcast Episode Draws Questions About Fiery Car Crash

Related Gallery