Neighbor watched Anne Heche burn up inside wrecked car
Anne Heche was literally going up in flames after crashing her blue Mini Cooper into a home in Los Angeles, a witness told The Post.
“I was convinced she was burned up and gone,” David Manpearl, who lives nearby and was the first person on the scene, told The Post on Saturday. “I couldn’t imagine anyone surviving that.”
Miraculously, Heche, 53, survived the Friday morning crash, as did the occupant of the house she destroyed, who had left the living room with her pets and moved to a side room just moments before Heche plowed her car into the home.
After trying to reach her inside the fiery wreck, Manpearl said he watched helplessly as Heche, who was trapped, appeared to burn alive before firefighters arrived.
Manpearl, 58, a software engineer, was at his home in the Mar Vista neighborhood just north of Venice when he was shocked to see a car hurtling at a high speed what he said is a very narrow street.
Home security footage obtained by a local CBS station showed a blue car recklessly speeding through a suburban-style community before the crash.
The nightmarish incident began unfolding a few minutes earlier, as Heche drove through a Mar Vista apartment complex and slammed into a garage door. Bystanders tried to get the “Donnie Brasco” actress out of the vehicle, but she backed up, drove off and went careening down Preston Way where she then veered into a small home, authorities said.
“My first thought was that it was a car malfunction or that there was some sort of medical issue,” Manpearl said of the speeding car. “The car was going three times faster than it should have been. She blew through three intersections. There was no turning or swerving or braking or skid marks.”
Manpearl heard the impact a few seconds after the car sped by, and went to the nearby scene, where he said Heche’s car had smashed through the front of the house and had landed about 50 feet in toward the back of the home.
The resident, 52, who Manpearl said was renting the home, was wandering in the wreckage and asked him for help getting her two dogs and tortoise out of the house, he said. The resident could not immediately be reached.
There was so much wreckage, Manpearl couldn’t tell if the driver was a man or a woman, he said.
He managed to open the back doors of the car and crawl partway inside, asking Heche if she was all right and if she could lift her hand up. She said no in both instances, he recalled.
Minutes after trying to reach Heche, Manpearl saw a “curtain of fire” rising from the bottom of the vehicle which eventually engulfed the car with Heche sitting upright in the driver’s seat, unable to get out.
“The fire just got bigger and bigger while she was sitting there stuck in the car,” Manpearl said. “The flames were licking the ceiling of the car and just closing in on her. I thought she was lost.”
Manpearl and two neighbors tried to use garden hoses and a fire extinguisher to put out the fire, to no avail.
“I had to back out of there because I was starting not to be able to breathe from the smoke,” he said.
Manpearl said he worries for the resident as much as Heche, since the resident lost nearly everything in the fiery wreck.
“The firefighters brought out a few things for her, some medication and some files,” he said. “Everything was smoke-damaged. Every inch of that house was ruined. Her life has been upended. She was only a renter with limited renter’s insurance.”
The resident stayed at Manpearl’s home with her pets yesterday, until friends came to take her, he said.
The actress — who was intubated with serious burns in a nearby hospital — was expected to “pull through,” her ex-boyfriend, Thomas Jane, said in a statement.