LOS ANGELES -- Actress Anne Heche is brain-dead after suffering a severe head injury in a car crash in California, her representative confirmed on Friday.
While she is legally dead according to California law, her heart is still beating, the representative said. Heche has not been taken off life support as medical experts try to determine if she is a match for organ donation.
A statement issued on behalf of Heche's family and friends read:
"We have lost a bright light, a kind and most joyful soul, a loving mother, and a loyal friend. 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."
Heche crashed her car last week in the Mar Vista neighborhood of Los Angeles, apparently driving at high speed before losing control and smashing through the walls of a home, setting the car and home on fire.
A woman inside the home and her pets escaped serious injury, but her house was severely damaged.
Shortly after the crash, Heche slipped into a coma.
Police later tested her blood and determined she was likely under the influence of a controlled substance while she was behind the wheel.
Heche first rose to prominence on the soap opera "Another World," from 1987 to 1991 winning a Daytime Emmy for her role. In the 1990s, she became a popular choice for Hollywood, co-starring in films such as "Donnie Brasco," "Volcano" and "Return to Paradise."
Her relationship with Ellen DeGeneres during the late 1990s heightened her fame, though she lamented that the publicity seemed to harm her career.
In the fall of 2000, soon after the two broke up, Heche was hospitalized after knocking on the door of a stranger near Fresno.
Authorities said she had appeared shaken and disoriented, and that she spoke incoherently to the residents.
In a memoir released the following year, "Call Me Crazy," Heche talked about her lifelong struggles with mental health and a childhood of abuse.
She was married to camera operator Coleman Laffoon from 2001 to 2009. The two had a son together. She had another son during a relationship with actor James Tupper, her co-star on the TV series "Men In Trees."