Anne Heche's death was caused by smoke inhalation and thermal injuries, coroner says
Less than a week after the passing of Anne Heche, the L.A. County Coroner's Office has revealed her cause of death.
The actress died Aug. 11 at the age of 53 after five days in the hospital following her involvement in a fiery car crash. The coroner's office has officially ruled her death an accident as a result of inhalation and thermal injuries, with a secondary cause of a sternal fracture due to blunt trauma also listed.
A full investigative report from the coroner's office is still pending.
Heche, known for films like Wag the Dog and Donnie Brasco, and television series such as Another World and Men in Trees, was in a coma from Aug. 5 through her death on Aug. 12 after crashing her car into a residence in the Mar Vista neighborhood, causing the vehicle and the home to burst into flames. The blaze required 59 firefighters to be extinguished.
The Los Angeles Police Department said Heche, who suffered a severe anoxic brain injury in the wake of the crash, had narcotics in her system. She remained in critical condition until she was declared legally dead on Aug. 12, but she remained on life support to allow OneLegacy Foundation enough time to find donor recipients who would be a match. The actress was an organ donor, and she was taken off life support on Aug. 14 after a match was identified.
"Today we lost a bright light, a kind and most joyful soul, a loving mother, and a loyal friend," said a statement released to PEOPLE on behalf of Heche's family and friends. "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."
Many of Heche's family and friends, including her son, Homer; her ex-husband Coley Laffoon; her ex-boyfriend and co-star James Tupper; and former girlfriend Ellen DeGeneres, released their own tributes and remembrances of the actress.
"This is a sad day," DeGeneres, who dated Heche from 1997 to 2000, tweeted. "I'm sending Anne's children, family, and friends all of my love." Tupper, who dated Heche from 2007 to 2018 and shared 13-year-old son Atlas with the actress, posted a photo of his ex on Instagram and wrote, "Love you forever."