Firefighter Recordings Are a New Twist in Anne Heche Death: Could She Have Survived?
Recordings from the accident scene revealed that firefighters were unable to render aid to Anne Heche for nearly an hour after her fateful car crash last month.
Heche’s Mini Cooper slammed into a home in the Mar Vista area on the west side of Los Angeles shortly before 11:00 a.m. on Aug. 5, causing the house to catch fire.
The recordings of the actions of the Los Angeles Fire Department, obtained by KNBC-TV, show that firefighters arrived at the scene within minutes but couldn’t get access to Heche’s car for at least 20 minutes. It then took at least 20 more minutes to pull the car out of the burning building to rescue her.
“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,” Deputy Fire Chief Richard Fields told KNBC.
“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,” he said.
According to KNBC, the recordings show firefighters arrived at the scene at 11:01 a.m. Shortly after that, a dispatcher radioed them to let them know that “there is a person stuck inside the vehicle.”
Paramedics began to treat a woman firefighters had located inside the house. At 11:18, a responder radioed that no one else had been located. “We do have no patients at this time,” the firefighter said.
However, at 11:22 a.m., an incident commander asked about the driver of the car. “Let me clear this up. So you do have a patient in the car?” Three minutes later, a firefighter announced that he had located the driver.
“We have identified one patient. He’s inaccessible at this time. He’s pushed up under the floorboard,” the firefighter said.
Firefighters brought in a heavy-duty tow truck to pull the car out of the burning home. Heche, still inside the vehicle, had collapsed below the front seats, according to KNBC. She was finally removed from the vehicle around 11:49 a.m.
Heche was transported to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and later transferred to the Grossman Burn Center at West Hills Hospital for specialized care, People reported.
The 53-year-old actress died on Aug. 14 when she was removed from life support a few days after being pronounced brain dead.
It’s unclear whether the outcome would have been different if responders had located Heche more quickly.
“The LAFD said that even if Heche’s presence in the wrecked car had been confirmed immediately it is unlikely firefighters would have responded differently,” KNBC reported. “An after-action presentation prepared for LAFD staff noted that it took 30 minutes to fight the fire to the point where a rescue could be made.”
KNBC reported that the cause of Heche’s death was listed as “inhalation and thermal injuries.”
The accident was the culmination of a series of unusual incidents involving Heche that day.
Before the Mar Vista crash, she was captured on video slamming into the garage of an apartment building. Heche was later spotted speeding on another street in the West Los Angeles neighborhood.
Blood tests showed Heche had cocaine in her system after the accident.
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