Editor’s note: Some may find the details of this report disturbing.
Firefighters were sent to the scene of a car accident and a house fire in Mar Vista on August 5, which eventually killed the actor ann heckthey were unable to begin life-saving efforts for about 45 minutes after they first arrived at the scene, according to Los Angeles City Fire Department records and time-stamped recordings of radio communications.
The recordings, which the LAFD provided to the NBC4 I-Team under the California Public Records Act, revealed that firefighters had been unable to get to her car for at least 20 minutes, and it took at least another 20 minutes to pull the car out of the car. Burning building for rescue Heche.
“Due to the intense fire and smoke conditions, you could not clearly see the vehicle or be able to clearly reach it,” said Richard Fields, LAFD vice president for the I-Team.
“Dense smoke conditions, dense fire conditions, which makes it very difficult for us to see each other inside a working structure fire,” he said.
According to the recordings, LAFD’s first engine arrived at the scene at 11:01 a.m., and within seconds, dispatchers radioed a report that a person was trapped in the car that crashed into the house.
“There is someone stuck inside the car,” the dispatcher said.
Paramedics were instructed to treat a woman from the firefighters in the house immediately, but it is now clear that this is the person who lives there, not the driver of the car.
“The patient who was initially identified, is the one who was at home,” Fields said.
At 11:18 a.m., a firefighter informed the firefighters that no one else was inside.
“We don’t have patients at this time,” the firefighter said.
Anne Heche’s final arrangements have been revealed. She had chosen to be buried at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles, according to her death certificate obtained by Access Hollywood. Her disposition is listed as cremation/burial and her final arrangements were taken care of by the Hollywood Funeral Home.
Four minutes later, at 11:22 a.m., after radio messages from the firefighters interfered inside, one of the accident leaders began asking again about the driver.
“Let me make this clear, so – do you have a patient in the car?” They said over the radio.
At 11:25 a.m., a firefighter who can be heard talking through an oxygen mask responded and said he had found the driver.
“We have identified one patient, who cannot be reached at this time, he has been pushed to the floorboard!”
Vice President of the fields said the patient, now known to be HecheShe collapsed under the front seats of her Mini Cooper.
“I will say that the place where the person was in the car was not in the driver’s seat, but on the floorboard of the passenger seat,” he said.
Once they found her and made sure she was alive, the firefighters used a heavy tow truck to tow the car – with Heche still inside – out of the burning house. It was pulled from the wreckage around 11:49 a.m.
“We have one patient in the car, being evaluated, about to be loaded onto the stretcher,” one firefighter reported over the radio.
Heche was first treated at UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Medical Center before being transferred for specialist care to Grossman Burn Center at West Hills Hospital.
She died 7 days after inhalation and heat injuries, according to a death certificate.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office said an investigation into the death had not been completed and that it could not provide more specific information about the nature or cause of the inhalation injuries.
Even if Heche was confirmed in the wrecked car immediately, the LAFD said, firefighters are unlikely to have responded differently.
An after-work presentation prepared for LAFD staff indicated that it took 30 minutes to fight the fire to the point where it could be rescued.
“I imagine, based on some very experienced officers who started the fight, that they did their best to try and identify someone in the car,” Fields said.
“Our firefighters were doing everything.”