Coroner Releases Final Autopsy Report for Actress Anne Heche, Revealing Her Cause of Death

Actress Anne Heche was not driving while impaired by illegal drugs on the day she crashed her car into a Los Angeles-area home, starting a fire that led to her death. Heche, 53, was driving erratically on Aug. 5, striking an apartment building with her small vehicle before driving into the house in Mar Vista, California. Unofficial accounts in the media theorized that she had drugs in her system at the time. Reports also emerged that the initial police investigation focused on the case as a possible felony DUI incident, according to the New York Post’s Page Six. Heche was conscious for a few moments after the crash, but then entered a coma from which she never woke. She was declared brain dead a week after the crash, and her organs were harvested on Aug. 15. On Tuesday, the report from the Los Angeles County Department of the Medical Examiner-Coroner said there were no drugs in her system at the time of her accident, according to People. “The hospital admission blood showed the presence of benzoylecgonine, the inactive metabolite of cocaine, which means she used in the past but not at the time of the crash,” a representative for the coroner’s office said. There were traces of cannabis use in Heche’s urine, but it was “not detected in the admission blood and is consistent with prior use, but not at the time of the injury,” the representative said. At the time Heche died, there was fentanyl in her system, but the report said it was “obtained after she received treatment at the hospital and therefore is consistent with therapeutic use.” “This is supported by the lack of fentanyl in the blood specimen drawn at admission to the hospital,” the report said. No alcohol was found in her system, according to TMZ. The coroner’s office estimated Heche’s vehicle hit the house at about 80 mph. The burns she sustained prevented her body from properly absorbing oxygen, leading to what is known as “anoxic brain injury,” which was given as the cause of her death. Heche also had a fractured sternum that the report said made it “painful while breathing when she was in her vehicle,” according to Page Six. The coroner’s office estimated Heche was trapped in her car for about 30 minutes. The actress suffered second-degree burns on 12 percent of her body, the report said. The house into which her vehicle crashed was destroyed in the fire that followed. The owner of the home, Lynn Michele, has since sued Heche’s estate for $2 million, according to Page Six. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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