Anne Heche's Death Ruled an Accident as Coroner Determines Official Causes

Anne Heche's Death Ruled an Accident as Coroner Determines Official Causes
·3 min read

Anne Heche's death has officially been ruled an accident.

Heche died due to inhalation of smoke and thermal injuries according to the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner.

Her manner of death was listed as an accident and also noted that a "sternal fracture due to blunt trauma" was another "significant condition" from the devastating car crash she was involved in on Aug. 5.

Per the National Library of Medicine, sternal fractures typically occur after the chest strikes the steering wheel in motor vehicle collisions. It is believed that 60-90% of all sternal fractures are caused by crashes, with the occurrence tripling with the use of seatbelts, likely due to deceleration forces, the NLM reported.

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 12: Anne Heche attends the 74th Annual Directors Guild of America Awards at The Beverly Hilton on March 12, 2022 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 12: Anne Heche attends the 74th Annual Directors Guild of America Awards at The Beverly Hilton on March 12, 2022 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic Anne Heche

RELATED: Anne Heche 'Peacefully Taken Off Life Support' Sunday After Organ Recipient Found, Rep Confirms

On Aug. 5, Heche was behind the wheel of her Mini Cooper when she crashed into a Los Angeles home. Both her car and the residence caught fire.

The actress remained in a coma for nearly a week before it was revealed on Aug. 12 that she was "not expected to survive." Heche was declared legally dead in the state of California on Aug. 12, though her heart continued to beat until Sunday in order to ensure her organs could be donated in accordance with her wishes.

"Today we lost a bright light, a kind and most joyful soul, a loving mother, and a loyal friend," a rep for the star told PEOPLE in a statement at the time. "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."

Her 20-year-old son Homer, whom she shares with ex-husband Coley Laffoon, also paid tribute to his mom in a statement to PEOPLE. "After six days of almost unbelievable emotional swings, I am left with a deep, wordless sadness. Hopefully my mom is free from pain and beginning to explore what I like to imagine as her eternal freedom," he said in part.

After Heche was declared legally dead, the Los Angeles Police Department told PEOPLE there would be no further investigation into the crash — which was being investigated by police before Heche's death.

She was taken off life support on Aug. 14.

Anne Heche photographed by Gregory Arlt
Anne Heche photographed by Gregory Arlt

Gregory Arlt Anne Heche

RELATED: Anne Heche's Ex Coley Laffoon Shares Emotional Tribute After Her Death: She 'Loved Really Hard'

Since the crash — and especially as news of Heche's passing became imminent — her Hollywood friends and loved ones paid tribute online. "I love you @anneheche," her former Dancing with the Stars partner Keo Motsepe wrote in a since-expired Instagram story.

In a statement obtained by PEOPLE, Robert DeNiro also expressed his condolences. "I'm very sad to hear of the tragic passing of Anne Heche. She was a wonderful actress and I enjoyed working with her tremendously in Wag the Dog. Sad! Sad! Sad!"

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free weekly newsletter to get the biggest news of the week delivered to your inbox every Friday.

In addition to Homer, Heche leaves behind 13-year-old son Atlas, whom she shares with ex James Tupper.