The 911 call starts with a jarring observation: “A car just went through my neighbour’s house.”
Anne Heche had crashed her blue Mini Cooper into a home in Los Angeles on August 5, and the caller, as heard in a recording obtained and published by TMZ, was unaware that the veteran actor was behind the wheel, or that anyone was still in the car at the time.
The caller told the dispatcher that the car was about three metres into the house.
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Everyone in the home was accounted for, the caller said, adding that he was unsure how many people were in the car when it crashed.
“Somebody is opening the back to see if we can access because they’re kinda trapped … inside the car,” the caller continued.
In the background, a voice yelled, “Fire!” and another one called out for hoses as the dispatcher tried to determine whether the smoke was in the home or car.
Heche’s crash into the two-storey house in the Mar Vista neighbourhood ignited a fiery blaze that took 59 firefighters over an hour to extinguish, authorities said.
She suffered serious burns and other injuries and was in a coma until her death on August 12.
While questions remain about that tragic day, more information has come to light about events leading up to Heche’s crash.
A red wig and a ‘random’ morning encounter
About 20 minutes before Heche’s car collided into the home, she made an innocuous purchase: a red wig at a hair salon in Venice, about two miles away from the scene of the crash.
Around 10:35am that day, she entered the hair salon through a back door, owner Richard Glass told the Los Angeles Times.
She looked at wigs on a shelf in the shampoo area and picked a blue one. Glass told her that wig was already taken, so she opted for a red wig instead, he told the publication.
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Glass recognised her, and the pair took selfies, one of which he posted on Instagram.
“So I met @anneheche today and she purchased a #redwig so random,” he wrote in the caption.
With a beaming smile – her blonde hair in a short, rumpled cut – Heche held on to her new wig in the photo.
Glass used the time stamp on the photos to estimate Heche’s arrival time at the salon, he told the publication. It turned out to be one of her final photos before the crash.
When reached by CNN, Glass declined to provide further details, saying the “bizarre and horrific” situation has been hard to process and has taken a toll on him.
“I’ve quickly found that it’s been difficult to navigate the … cyber-bullying from strangers, the random phone calls and all of the outreach that come from it – as well as the overwhelming feelings of grief I have at seeing the tragic loss of someone’s life,” he told CNN.
Around 20 minutes later, a fiery crash into a two-storey home
Shortly after her stop at the hair salon, Heche’s speeding car barrelled into a home in Los Angeles, police said. Video from the scene showed the charred shell of the car and clouds of smoke.
“Solo passenger vehicle struck and came to rest well within a 738 square foot two-story home built in 1952, causing structural compromise and erupting in heavy fire,” the Los Angeles Fire Department said in a statement.
It took the nearly 60 firefighters about 65 minutes to extinguish the flames and rescue Heche, authorities said. She was rushed to the hospital in critical condition.
Lynne Mishele lived in the home with her puppies, Bree and Rueban, and tortoise Marley. They barely made it out alive but lost nearly everything in the fire, neighbour Roy Morgen told KCAL/KCBS. Heche’s car stopped about two feet away from where Mishele was sitting, Morgen said.
Just before the crash, Heche was involved in a separate hit-and-run incident, but her serious injuries prevented officers from questioning her about it, a law enforcement source said. LAPD authorities told CNN that there are no plans to release additional details on that incident.
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At the time of the crash, Heche was involved in several projects, including the Better Together podcast, which highlighted meaningful friendships. In an episode of the podcast released before the crash, Heche talked about having a bad day.
“Today’s been a very unique day,” she said in the podcast. “I don’t know what happened, sometimes days just suck.”
It’s unclear when the episode was recorded. Not much is known about her whereabouts that morning until minutes before the crash.
A 911 call and panic over a trapped victim
The 911 call provides insight into the panic at the scene of the crash.
In the frantic audio, the caller told dispatch that the car moved so fast, it was in the second room of the home.
“Like 10 feet [three metres] into the house,” the caller said.
Later, the caller told dispatch the car was on fire and the smoke was turning “really black”, while others yelled in the background that someone was trapped in the car. Sirens blared in the background.
“Here comes the paramedic,” the caller said. Dispatch urged the caller to stay on the phone until the medics start helping the victim.
A positive drug test and a dismissed investigation
Heche was hospitalised in critical condition following the crash.
Detectives got a search warrant for her blood sample, and tests later showed she was under the influence of narcotics, police said.
Her spokesperson told CNN the actress had a significant pulmonary injury that required a ventilator and severe burns. Her family and friends later said she also experienced a severe anoxic brain injury, which occurs when the brain is deprived of oxygen.
Until her death Sunday, she was kept on life support to determine whether her organs were viable for donation and a match was made.
The LAPD initially announced that she was under investigation for felony DUI after her blood work showed signs of impairment, elevating it from a misdemeanour DUI.
After her death, authorities dropped their felony investigation into the crash, police said.
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