Heche died of “inhalation and thermal injuries” as well as a fracture of her sternum — the breastbone in the center of the chest — caused by blunt trauma during the crash according to a report released by Los Angeles County Coroner-Medical Examiner’s Office Tuesday.
The report said that injury “is expected to be painful while breathing when she was in her vehicle,” and “significantly contributed” to her death.
The manner of death was ruled an accident, and the autopsy dispelled previous reports which said Heche was high on drugs at the time of the fiery crash.
The report noted tests on Heche’s urine tested positive for cocaine, cannabinoids, benzodiazepines and fentanyl, however it also pointed out she was given fentanyl in hospital after the crash.
Separate tests on her blood indicated prior use of cocaine, but let the coroner to conclude: “There was no evidence of impairment by illicit substances at the time of the crash.”
Heche also suffered burns on the right side of her face/neck, right shoulder, left upper chest and her upper extremities.
According to the emergency services radio records released to NBC Los Angeles under the California Records Act, the first fire engine responded to the crash at 11:01 a.m. — five minutes after Heche lost control of her car and plowed into the private home.
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