Anne Heche, an actress whose steady film and television career spanned three decades after her breakthrough role in the soap opera "Another World," has died. She was 53.
Heche's death comes nine days after she was pulled from a burning car and hospitalized in critical condition following a crash in Los Angeles. Heche suffered a "severe anoxic brain injury" as a result of the accident and fell into a coma, according to a statement provided to USA TODAY.
On Friday, it was shared that Heche had been declared brain dead, but remained on life support while she was evaluated as an organ donor. On Sunday evening, her representative Holly Baird told USA TODAY that Heche had been "peacefully taken off life support."
'This is a sad day': Ellen DeGeneres, more mourn Anne Heche following her death
Homer Laffoon, Heche's 20-year-old son with real-estate broker Coleman Laffoon, mourned his mother in a statement provided to USA TODAY on Friday.
"After six days of almost unbelievable emotional swings, I am left with a deep, wordless sadness," he said. "Hopefully, my mom is free from pain and beginning to explore what I like to imagine as her eternal freedom."
He added: "Thousands of friends, family, and fans made their hearts known to me. 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, Homer."
A statement provided to USA TODAY on behalf of Heche's family and friends remembered the actress as "a bright light, a kind and most joyful soul, a loving mother, and a loyal friend."
"Anne will be deeply missed but she lives on through her beautiful sons, her iconic body of work, and her passionate advocacy," the statement read. "Her bravery for always standing in her truth, spreading her message of love and acceptance, will continue to have a lasting impact."
The actress drove her car into a home in Mar Vista, which erupted in flames. Without identifying the driver at the time, Tony Im, a public information officer for the Los Angeles Police Department, confirmed to USA TODAY that a crash occurred at 10:55 a.m. Aug. 5, and that the vehicle "became engulfed in flames." A representative for Heche later confirmed the accident to The Associated Press.
The Los Angeles Fire Department said in a news release that the vehicle struck a two-story home, causing "structural compromise and erupting in heavy fire." The driver was taken to a hospital "in critical condition," according to the release.
TV news video showed a blue Mini Cooper Clubman, badly damaged and burned, being towed out of the home, with a woman sitting up on a stretcher and struggling as firefighters put her in an ambulance. Fifty-nine firefighters responded to the incident and took 65 minutes to extinguish the flames and rescue Heche. No other injuries were reported.
"Heaven has a new Angel," close friend Nancy Davis, founder of Race to Erase MS, posted about Heche's death on Instagram. "My loving , kind , fun , endearing and beautiful friend @anneheche went to heaven. I will miss her terribly and cherish all the beautiful memories we have shared."
Anne Heche was 'not expected to survive' after crash
Heche had suffered burns that required the use of a ventilator to breathe.
Nearly a week after the accident, Heche's publicist told USA TODAY in a statement that the actor was "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 read, adding that Heche was being cared for at the Grossman Burn Center at West Hills hospital in Los Angeles.
"Anne had a huge heart and touched everyone she met with her generous spirit," the statement said. "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."
Police investigated Anne Heche's blood for possible drug/alcohol use
Police investigated Heche for driving under the influence of drugs when she crashed. Detectives with a search warrant took a sample of Heche's blood and found narcotics in her system, LAPD spokesman Officer Jeff Lee told The Associated Press.
“As of today, there will be no further investigative efforts made in this case,” the department announced Friday. “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. When a person suspected of a crime expires, we do not present for filing consideration.”
Heche was alone in the car and no one in the house was injured. The person living in the home was identified to USA TODAY as Lynne Mischele by her attorney, Shawn Holley. Mischele was a longtime renter of the house, the lawyer said.
Holley provided a statement on behalf of Mischele, saying she was "devastated" as she and her pets "almost lost their lives." She said she lost all of her property, including items of "profound sentimental value," in the fire.
Anne Heche's acting career, including 'Another World' and 'Donnie Brasco'
An Ohio native, Heche rose to fame playing twins Vicky and Marley Hudson on "Another World" from 1984 to 1992, earning a Daytime Emmy Award for younger actress in a drama series.
In the late 1990s, she became one of the hottest actors in Hollywood, a constant on magazine covers and in big-budget films. She co-starred with Johnny Depp in 1997′s “Donnie Brasco,” Tommy Lee Jones in 1997′s “Volcano,” Harrison Ford in 1998′s “Six Days Seven Nights,” Vince Vaughn and Joaquin Phoenix in 1998′s “Return to Paradise” and with an ensemble cast in the original 1997 “I Know What You Did Last Summer.”
Anne Heche's life before near-fatal wreck: Mental health struggles and Ellen DeGeneres romance
Anne Heche and Ellen DeGeneres' relationship
As her star was on the rise, Heche said her career suffered when she started dating comedian Ellen DeGeneres in the late '90s.
"I was in a relationship with Ellen DeGeneres for 3½ years, and the stigma attached to that relationship was so bad that I was fired from my multimillion-dollar picture deal, and I did not work in a studio picture for 10 years," she said.
Heche also recalled wanting to bring DeGeneres as her date to the premiere for her disaster picture "Volcano," but Fox studios executives balked.
"I was told if I took Ellen I would lose my Fox contract," said Heche, and DeGeneres urged caution. "At that moment she took my hand and said, 'Do what they say.' I said, 'No, thanks.'"
Heche said she took DeGeneres to the premiere anyway, and "was ushered out by security before the movie even ended, and I was told I was not allowed to go to the after party for fear they would get a picture of me with a woman.
"It was unbelievable. She was warning me this is going to happen."
In 2000, soon after the two broke up, Heche was hospitalized after knocking on the door of a stranger in a rural area near Fresno, California. Authorities said she had appeared shaken and disoriented, and spoke incoherently to the residents.
"This is a sad day," she said. "I'm sending Anne's children, family and friends all of my love."
Anne Heche detailed mental struggles in her memoir
In her memoir, “Call Me Crazy,” Heche talked about her lifelong struggles with mental health and a childhood of abuse.
Despite the setbacks, Heche continued to work, mostly in television, appearing on shows like "All Rise," "Chicago P.D.," "The Brave," "Ally McBeal" and "The Michael J. Fox Show," among others. She also co-hosted the podcast “Better Together," described as a celebration of friendship.
Heche also finished filming Lifetime movie "Girl in Room 13," which is still set to air Sept. 17, network representative Theresa Black told USA TODAY.
The film is "important" to Heche, executive VP and head of Lifetime programming Amy Winter said while discussing the project during a panel for the TV Critics Association,, as it brings "attention to the appalling issue of human sex trafficking."
After Heche split from ex-husband Laffoon, she welcomed a second son, Atlas, with actor James Tupper in 2009. She and Tupper dated for about 10 years and starred together in "Men in Trees" from 2006 to 2008.
In 2019, Heche began dating actor Thomas Jane, with whom she starred in the HBO series "Hung" from 2009 to 2011.
Contributing: Elise Brisco, Bryan Alexander, Naledi Ushe and Kim Willis, USA TODAY; Lynn Elber, The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Anne Heche dead after car accident, hospitalization; actress was 53