Actor Rebecca Gayheart says she spent a year trying to kill herself after 2001 car accident that left a child dead
Gayheart pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter charge and was sentenced to 750 hours of community service following the accident
It has been 18 long years, but fashion model and actor Rebecca Gayheart is still reeling from a moment that changed her life. The 'Once Upon A Time In Hollywood' actor recently opened up about the harrowing incident in a podcast interview on 'The Only One in the Room', hosted by Laura Cathcart Robbins.
The actress reflected on the 2001 car accident she was in that left a young boy dead. "A nine-year-old child died and everything changed from that," Gayheart said. She further explained the details behind the accident on the podcast, saying she was driving when a car in front of her hit the brakes.
To avoid hitting the car in front she went around it. "If a car in front of you hits their brakes and they stop, you don't go around them to avoid hitting them. You hit them because there's a reason they're stopping," she advised. Reflecting on her own mistake, she continued, "I couldn't see that reason, but that is something that everyone should know."
The actress noted that nine-year-old Jorge Cruz Jr., who lost his life the next day from injuries he sustained after she struck him down with her car, was chasing after his soccer ball in the middle of the road, and she was nowhere near being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The whole experience left a huge hole in her life, especially for the first few years.
"I did not cope very well after," she recalled. "I just didn't want to live after that accident... I couldn't handle it at all, so I spent about a year just trying to kill myself basically by doing every self-destructive thing a person can do because I just didn't understand…any of it."
Gayheart added on the podcast that she suffered from PTSD after the incident and had nightmares. She said that she continues to replay the accident in her head, wondering what would have happened had she done things differently and struggles over why it happened.
"I still have those questions, but today I am able to ponder those questions and still realize that I deserve to be happy and that I am meant to be on this planet and that I have a purpose and I'm making living amends for that even though it was an accident," she said, noting she "can't imagine what his parents are still feeling like."
Gayheart reportedly pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter charge and was sentenced to 750 hours of community service, where she began working with Chrysalis, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping homeless and low-income individuals by providing resources and support to gain employment. "I just found my place," Gayheart said, adding that she was indebted to the people she met as a volunteer for saving her life. She added, "Being at Chrysalis reinforced what my purpose was and that I did need to be alive."
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