Actress Anne Heche, who competed on “Dancing With the Stars” season 29, died from injuries suffered in a car accident in August 2022. Her final autopsy results were released on December 6, 2022 and they show that while she did have drugs in her system, she was not impaired by them.
Here’s what you need to know:
Heche Died on August 14 After Being on Life Support For Over a Week
On August 5, Heche crashed her car into a home in the Los Angeles area, which started a fire. It took first responders about 45 minutes to begin lifesaving efforts on the actress because they could not get her out of her car, according to NBC Los Angeles.
A spokesman from the Los Angeles Fire Department told NBC Los Angeles in September 2022, “Given the heavy fire and smoke conditions, it wasn’t that you could clearly see into the vehicle or clearly be able to access it. Heavy smoke conditions, heavy fire conditions, which makes it very difficult for us to just see each other on the inside of a working structure fire.”
On August 14, Heche was removed from life support and died, though she was declared brain dead on August 11. The reason for the three-day gap is because she was an organ donor; she was removed from life support after recipients were found and her organs were donated, according to KTLA.
According to a report from the Los Angeles County medical examiner and coroner’s office, Heche’s cause of death was “inhalation and thermal injuries” and she also suffered a “sternal fracture due to blunt trauma.”
Anne Heche Had Inactive Cocaine Metabolite, Cannabinoids & Benzodiazepine In Her System At the Time of the Crash
According to the Los Angeles Times, the blood and urine samples taken when Heche was admitted to the hospital following the crash showed evidence of drug use but that she was not impaired at the time.
The blood sample showed the presence of “an inactive cocaine metabolite,” which indicates the actress had used cocaine in the days leading up to her death. The urine sample showed the presence of cannabinoids and benzodiazepine, also indicating she had used those in recent days.
According to the National Institutes of Health, cannabinoids are defined as “a group of substances found in the cannabis plant,” the most common of which are THC and CBD. THC is the active substance in marijuana that affects a person’s mental state. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, benzodiazepines are ” depressants that produce sedation and hypnosis, relieve anxiety and muscle spasms, and reduce seizures.” The most common prescription benzodiazepines Valium, Xanax, Halcion, Klonopin, and Ativan.
The Los Angeles Times also reported that Heche had the opioid fentanyl in her system, but that was consistent with her being treated for pain in the hospital; the actress suffered first- and second-degree burns as a result of the crash.
Heche competed with Keo Motsepe on season 29 of “Dancing With the Stars,” finishing in 13th place. When she died, Motsepe wrote of his partner, “I love you, Anne Heche.” He also told “Entertainment Tonight” in a statement, “Anne was my partner on DWTS for Season 29. We became close friends and my heart breaks for her and her family over this terrible accident. I am praying she makes a full recovery and I know the entire DWTS family is sending her healing thoughts. In working with her, I can say she has a strong spirit and is a fighter, and I know she will be doing all she can to heal.”
Heche left behind two sons — Homer Laffoon, 20, from her marriage to real estate broker Coleman Laffoon, and Atlas Heche Tupper, 13, from her relationship with actor James Tupper.