Anne Heche suffered second-degree burns on 12 per cent of her body when she crashed, but the troubled actress wasn’t high on drugs when she ploughed her car into a Los Angeles home.
Heche, 53, was trapped inside her burning Mini Cooper for about 30 minutes on August 5 before she was extricated by first responders, according to an autopsy report obtained by The New York Post.
Heche died of “inhalation and thermal injuries” as well as a fracture of her sternum — the breastbone in the centre of the chest — caused by blunt trauma during the crash, according to a report released by the Los Angeles County Department Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office on Tuesday.
The report said that injury “is expected to be painful while breathing when she was in her vehicle,” and “significantly contributed” to her death.
The manner of death was ruled an accident, and the autopsy dispelled previous reports which said Heche was high on drugs at the time of the fiery crash.
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The report noted tests on Heche’s urine tested positive for cocaine, cannabinoids, and fentanyl, however it also pointed out she was given fentanyl in hospital after the crash.
Separate tests on her blood indicated prior use of benzoylecgonine, which is a toxic metabolite that occurs after cocaine use, but led the coroner to conclude, “There was no evidence of impairment by illicit substances at the time of the crash,” the report said.
Heche also suffered burns on the right side of her face/neck, right shoulder, left upper chest and her upper extremities.
In addition to the second degree burns, 40 per cent of Heche’s body suffered first-degree burns and soot was found in her nostrils and mouth, according to the report.
Heche was rushed to an ER but later transferred to the Grossman Burn Center in West Hills, California, where skin grafting was done on her neck, torso and upper and lower extremities.
She was placed on a breathing machine but was pronounced brain dead at 6:38pm on August 11.
A second pronouncement was made 10 minutes later and her organs and tissue were extracted for donation, according to the autopsy report.
According to the emergency services radio records released to NBC Los Angeles under the California Records Act, the first fire engine responded to the crash at 11.01am — five minutes after Heche lost control of her car and ploughed into the private home.
An emergency dispatcher radioed there was “a person stuck inside the vehicle,” but arriving paramedics were initially directed to treat a woman found injured in the home, not the driver of the Mini Cooper.
Witnesses said Heche was travelling about 80 mph (128 km/h) in a 25 mph (25 km/h) residential zone when she hit the house on Walgrove Ave. in Mar Vista, California.
“[Los Angeles Fire Department] may have taken as much as 30 minutes to extract the decedent due to the limited space and the lack of structural integrity of the resident,” according to the report.
“Consequently, the decedent may have inhaled a lot of smoke aside from the burns she sustained.”
Anne is survived by her two sons, Homer Laffoon, 20, and Atlas Heche Tupper, whom she shared with exes Coley Lafoon and James Tupper, respectively.
This article originally appeared in the New York Post and was reproduced with permission
Story Credit: news.com.au