Anne Heche's death has officially been ruled an accident by the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner on Wednesday. The actress was killed by inhalation of smoke and thermal injuries, according to the coroner's report. Heche was declared legally dead on Aug. 11 but was kept on life support until Aug. 14 so her organs could be donated. Heche's death came a week after she crashed her blue Mini Cooper into a house in Los Angeles on Aug. 5. Heche was 53.
The manner of death was listed as an accident. The coroner's report also noted a "sternal fracture due to blunt trauma" was a "significant condition" from the crash, reports PEOPLE. Sternal fractures can happen after the chest hits the steering wheel during a car crash, the National Library of Medicine notes. About 60% to 90% of all sternal fractures are caused by car crashes and are more common among older patients and slightly more prevalent in females, notes the NLM.
Heche crashed her car into a garage at an apartment complex in the Mar Vista neighborhood of Los Angeles on Aug. 5. She drove away from the scene, then hit a house, sparking a fire that left her severely burned. On Aug. 11, her representative said she was not expected to survive because of an anoxic brain injury. She was considered "legally dead" by California law, but she remained on life support until Aug. 14 so a match could be found for her organs.
In the 911 call after the second crash, a person reported that Heche's car was about 10 feet into the house, according to the recording CNN obtained. The caller said everyone was accounted for, but they did not know how many people were in the car. "Somebody is opening the back to see if we can access because they're kinda trapped... inside the car," the caller is heard saying before another voice yells, "Fire!" It took 59 firefighters to extinguish the fire.
"Today we lost a bright light, a kind and most joyful soul, a loving mother, and a loyal friend," Heche's representative told PEOPLE after Heche was taken off life support. "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."
Heche rose to fame playing the twins Vicky Hudson and Marley Love on Another World, earning her a Daytime Emmy award. During the late 1990s, she starred in a string of hit movies, including Donnie Brasco, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Volcano, Wag the Dog, and Six Days, Seven Nights. She returned to television in recent years, scoring recurring roles on Chicago P.D. and All Rise. She stars in the upcoming Lifetime movie Girl in Room 13, about the horrors of human trafficking. Heche is survived by her sons Homer Laffoon, 20, and Atlas Heche Tupper, 13.