Anne Heche was in a coma Monday (Aug 8) as authorities tried to piece together the chain of events days earlier that ended with the actress speeding down a Los Angeles street and crashing into a house and suffering burns in the fire caused by the impact.
Los Angeles police are investigating Heche in connection with driving under the influence and hit-and-run after she crashed her car into a house in the Mar Vista neighbourhood Friday, igniting a fire. Heche, 53, was pulled by LA firefighters from the wreckage of her burned Mini Cooper.
As that investigation continued, news about Heche’s condition took a turn for the worse.
"Shortly after the accident, Anne Heche became unconscious, slipping into a coma and is in critical condition. She has a significant pulmonary injury requiring mechanical ventilation and burns that require surgical intervention,” a spokeswoman for Heche said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times.
Los Angeles police Officer Annie Hernandez confirmed that detectives investigating the crash obtained a search warrant for the actor’s blood at the hospital to see whether she was under the influence.
Fifty-nine firefighters responded to the scene of the accident. In the moments before impact, Heche was captured on video crashing into a garage at an apartment building, then narrowly missing a pedestrian before striking a Jaguar, according to law enforcement sources and video that was made public.
David Manpearl was sitting at his desk Friday morning at his Mar Vista home when he saw a car speeding by his window.
Seconds later, he heard a loud thud.
"It took me one or two seconds to put together that the sound I heard was a crash,” he said. "I ran out the door and down the street to find out where the crash was and see if anyone needed help.”
When he arrived at the scene, he said, he found the front wall of a house missing and debris everywhere. He said Heche’s car had gone all the way through the house and was lodged in a wall in the back. He said he went inside the house and found its tenant standing in the middle of what was left of her kitchen, barefoot, asking for help with her tortoise and two dogs.
"She couldn’t move because the ceiling had come down, so there was all kinds of debris everywhere,” Manpearl said. He and another neighbour helped the neighbor to safety.
Trevor Colbert, who lives across the street, also ran outside after he heard the crash and saw a hole in his neighbor’s house. He said he went back inside, grabbed a fire extinguisher and returned to find his neighbour on her front lawn.
"She came out carrying one of her pets, and she seemed pretty rattled,” Colbert said. "She wasn’t really saying much. I think she was in shock.”
After making sure the tenant was safe, Manpearl said, he went back into the house to try to help Heche, who was still stuck in the car.
"It got to a point where there was fire everywhere. It was all around us,” he said. "It had spread from the car to the house and the smoke was getting thick. I kept hoping that the fire department was there, but it hadn’t come yet, and eventually I had to leave the house for my own safety.”
Heche has not been arrested or charged.
Heather Duffy Boylston, Heche’s friend and podcast partner, said in a statement: "Her family and friends ask for your thoughts and prayers and to respect her privacy during this difficult time.”
Heche is best known for her work as Vicky Hudson and Marley Love in the soap opera Another World; she won a Daytime Emmy Award in 1991 for her work on the show. In the 1990s, her credits included the films Donnie Brasco, Six Days Seven Nights and Return To Paradise. More recently, she appeared in the TV series All Rise and Chicago P.D. and the movie The Brave. - dpa