'One Tree Hill' actress Bevin Prince opens up after husband killed by lightning strike

The actress remembers the memories she shared with her husband, William Friend.

ByAngeline Jane Bernabe, Anastasia Elyse Williams and Sean Sanders ABCNews logo
Friday, December 9, 2022
Bevin Prince breaks silence about husband's lightning strike death
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Bevin Prince gives her first television interview since the sudden death of her husband, Will Friend, in July 2022.

"One Tree Hill" actress Bevin Prince is opening up about the death of her husband, William Friend, five months after he was struck by lightning.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News, Prince remembers the heartbreaking moment her husband lost his life, the memories she shared with him and how she has been picking up the pieces.

"I'm just so proud. I'm so proud that I got to do life with him," said Prince. "He was one of the the funniest people I've ever met in my life, by far. He lit up every single room he came into. You never forgot when you met Will Friend."

On July 3, 2022, Prince and her husband, 33, were spending time on the water boating with family and friends, near their home in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. It was something they did on many weekends. Prince remembers a storm coming in the distance, but she said they were monitoring it.

"We look up and we can see the storm in a distance," Prince recalled, noting there were "60-some boats out there." "But we'd been there so many times, and there was no urgency for anyone to get off the water at that tie. We were watching it."

SEE ALSO: Husband of 'One Tree Hill' star dead at 33 after lightning strike

Prince said she ended up jumping on another boat with her father nearby when things changed instantly.

At the time, local authorities told ABC News that Friend was struck by lightning. Authorities said Friend was transferred from his boat to theirs and deputies performed CPR on him until they arrived at the marina where EMS took over.

"It was instant," Prince said. "They rushed over to him and, at the time, a police boat happened to be coming by, so they moved him over to the police boat quickly. And from what I've heard, you know, spent a lot of time and care trying to resuscitate him."

"Right before it hit him, he lit a cigar and he looked at my father and he said, 'If we get struck by lightning, Mike, this is where I wanna be.' And then it happened," she added. "I believe it was really his time."

Prince said she believes there was "divinity" in his passing.

"He was 33 years old. It was July 3 and I believe the exact time that the lightning struck was 3:13 p.m. So knowing that all the resources were there to potentially save him, I have to believe that something bigger beyond me was calling him," she said.

Following her husband's sudden death, Prince said she received an outpouring of support, including co-stars from "One Tree Hill," which she starred in for five seasons.

Her co-star, Hilarie Burton, shared a moving Instagram post at the time, highlighting Prince's strength and asking others to lift her up.

Actress Sophia Bush, who also starred on the hit show, took to Instagram too and told her followers to show Prince love -- the same "love her husband always showed her."

"It's incredible and it's unfortunate and fortunate that in this situation it takes a tragedy to be able to see how people rally and support and love you," Prince said. "And I'm incredibly fortunate in this situation."

Now, Prince is using her late husband's memory to continue the outdoor cycling gym they founded together called Recess.

"He believed in me and my message and what Recess really is, which is community, support, and ability to show up exactly as you are and breathe and move together," she said.

"Will lived such a life of purpose," Prince continued. "I feel a responsibility to carry that on and to find my own way to continue to serve in his honor. And that's what my life will be now."