Actress Anne Heche has died exactly one week after an August 5 fiery car crash in Los Angeles left her comatose. She never regained consciousness after the accident, and died in a Lost Hills, California, burn unit on August 12. She was 53 years old.
“Today we lost a bright light, a kind and most joyful soul, a loving mother, and a loyal friend,” a rep for Anne told People on behalf of her loved ones.
“Anne will be deeply missed but she lives on through her beautiful sons, her iconic body of work, and her passionate advocacy. Her bravery for always standing in her truth, spreading her message of love and acceptance, will continue to have a lasting impact,” the statement continued.
While Anne is legally dead under California law, her family confirmed to the outlet that her heart is still beating. She has not been taken off life support to give OneLegacy Foundation time to find recipients who will be a match.
The evening prior, her family and friends released a statement through the actress’ representative which read, “Unfortunately, due to her accident, Anne Heche suffered a severe anoxic brain injury and remains in a coma, in critical condition. She is 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 added.
Anne was gravely injured after driving her Mini Cooper into a home in L.A.’s Mar Vista neighborhood at a high rate of speed, setting both the car and the house ablaze. She was extricated and rescued by paramedics less than an hour after the crash, but by then she had already suffered smoke inhalation and severe burns.
The Six Days, Seven Nights star leaves behind two children: her eldest son, Homer Laffoon 20, whom she shared with ex-husband Coleman Laffoon, and Atlas Tupper, 13, whom she shared with her former partner of 10 years and Men in Trees costar James Tupper. Shortly before her death was announced, James posted a photo of Anne to his Instagram and wrote next to it, “Love you forever,” with a broken heart emoji.
Philanthropist Nancy Davis was one of Anne’s first friends to talk about her passing, sharing an Instagram post before her family had announced her death.
“Heaven has a new angel. 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 was always the kindest, most thoughtful person who always brought out the best in me,” she wrote next to a photo of the pair.
Anne’s first major role came playing the dual parts of twins Marley Love and Vicky Hudson on the NBC soap opera Another World from 1984 through 1992, for which she earned a Daytime Emmy award. Her breakout year came in 1997 when she appeared in the feature films Donnie Brasco and Volcano. That same year, she began dating then-sitcom star Ellen DeGeneres, and the two became one of the first openly gay couples in Hollywood. Anne would later reveal it cost her career opportunities.
“My story is a story that created change in the world, moved the needle for equal rights forward, when I fell in love with Ellen DeGeneres,” Anne revealed during a Dancing With the Stars segment when she competed on season 29.
“I was in a relationship with Ellen DeGeneres for 3 1/2 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 added.
Ellen shared a tweet regarding Anne’s passing, writing, “This is a sad day. I’m sending Anne’s children, family and friends all of my love.”