Actress Rebecca Gayheart is reflecting on a tragic event from her past.
On The Only One in the Room podcast, Gayheart opened up about the June 13, 2001 car accident that resulted in the death of a 9-year-old boy, Jorge Cruz Jr.
“I had a very terrible accident happen,” she explained.
“A 9-year-old child died. And you know, everything changed from that, and I still have trouble talking about it.”
Rebecca explained the event, telling host Laura Cathcart that she was driving when a car in front of her hit the brakes.
To avoid hitting the car, Rebecca panicked and swerved 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,” she advised, reflecting on her own mistake.
“You hit them because there’s a reason they’re stopping.”
“I couldn’t see that reason, but that is something that everyone should know,” she said.
The Beverly Hills, 90210 actress noted that Cruz was crossing the street to chase after his soccer ball when she accidentally struck him.
She was not on drugs or under the influence.
Cruz died from the injuries sustained the following day and Gayheart paid the family $10,000 for funeral expenses, according to People.
As expected, Rebecca says she “did not cope very well after.”
“I just didn’t want to live after that accident… I couldn’t handle it at all,” she explained.
“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 suffered from PTSD following the incident and had ongoing nightmares.
The star said that to this day she continues to replay the accident in her head, wondering what she could’ve done to prevent the unfortunate situation.
“I still have those questions, but today I am able to ponder those questions and still realize that I deserve to be happy,” she said.
“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.”
Adding, “[I] can’t imagine what his parents are still feeling like.”
After pleading no contest to vehicular manslaughter in November 2001, the actress was sentenced to probation, a one-year suspension of her license, a $2,800 fine, and 750 hours of community service.
She also settled a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the child’s parents out of court.
Thanks to her 750 hours of community service, she began volunteering 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,” she said, crediting the people she met through her work with saving her life.
And when the organization was struggling financially, she helped create the Butterfly Ball, which has been raising money since 2002.
“Being at Chrysalis reinforced what my purpose was and that I did need to be alive,” Rebecca said of the organization.
We are just glad that after many years she has been able to find peace and stay in a healthier headspace.
These days, Gayheart keeps busy by balancing her acting career as well as being a mom to her two daughters Billie, 9, and Georgia, 7 – whom she shares with ex-husband Eric Dane.