Coroner: Heche death accidental; no impairment at time of crash
Actress Anne Heche was not impaired by any illicit substances when she crashed her Mini Cooper into a Mar Vista home and suffered fatal burns and other injuries, according to a coroner’s report released Tuesday.
According to the coroner’s office, testing revealed the presence of benzoylecgonine, an “inactive metabolite of cocaine,” in her system, but there was no evidence of actual impairment when the crash occurred. The report also noted that cannabinoids were detected in her urine, but not in her blood stream, “consistent with prior use (of marijuana) but not at the time of injury.”
Fentanyl was also detected in her urine, but it was attributed to the medication she received while she was being treated at the hospital. The report noted the urine sample was taken “after she received treatment” for her injuries, and thus is “consistent with therapeutic use.” It also noted that there was no fentanyl detected in her blood stream when she arrived at the hospital.
The report concluded that the 53-year-old Heche’s death was accidental, noting she died of “inhalation and thermal injuries” resulting from the fire that erupted after the crash occurred.
“A sternal fracture due to blunt trauma also significantly contributed to death,” according to the report.
Heche was pronounced brain dead on Aug. 11 at the Grossman Burn Center at West Hills Hospital and Medical Center. Her body was kept on life support for several days so her organs could be harvested for donation.
On Aug. 5, Heche crashed her blue Mini Cooper into a Mar Vista home in the 1700 block of South Walgrove Avenue that was largely destroyed in the ensuing fire.
The bizarre series of events that led to her death began earlier on that morning. TMZ obtained video showing Heche involved in a minor collision at a Mar Vista-area apartment complex, crashing into a wall in a parking area, then driving away as people nearby tried to help. The crash into the home occurred a short time later.
Surveillance video posted on social media showed her car speeding down the 1700 block of South Walgrove Avenue, a residential street near Palms Boulevard, just prior to the crash, which sent Heche’s car completely into the home.
The vehicle “struck and came to rest well within a 738-square-foot two-story home, built in 1952, causing structural compromise and erupting in heavy fire prior to LAFD arrival,” said Brian Humphrey of the Los Angeles Fire Department.
“Fifty-nine 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,” Humphrey said.
No other injuries were reported.
Heche rose to fame on the soap opera “Another World,” where she played the dual role of twins Vicky Hudson and Marley Love from 1987 to 1991 and won a Daytime Emmy Award for her performance.
In the following years, she amassed more than 100 acting credits in films such as “Wag the Dog,” “I Know What You Did Last Summer” and director Gus Van Sant’s remake of “Psycho” and television shows including “Ally McBeal,” “Chicago P.D.” and a recurring role on the CBS courtroom drama “All Rise.”
She also appeared in several Broadway productions, earning a Tony nomination in 2004 for her work in the play “Twentieth Century.”
Before her death, Heche completed Lifetime’s “Girl in Room 13.”
She is survived by two sons, Homer Heche Laffoon, 20, and Atlas Tupper, 13; her estranged mother, Nancy Heche; and one sibling.