Anne Heche died of severe car accident last weekend. However, when she died, it's much harder to guess. Some media outlets declared Heche dead on Friday, while others did not report her death until Sunday.
Anne Heche's family reported her as brain dead on Friday, which prompted many media outlets to report her as dead, because under California law, she was at the point at which her brain function ceased.
A person who has undergone either (1) irreversible enlargement of circulatory and respiratory functions, or (2) irreversible enlargement of all functions of the whole brain, including the brain stem, is dead. A determination of death must be made in accordance with accepted medical criteria.
Anne Heche was involved in a car accident on August 5th that resulted in a fire that destroyed her automobile and her home, and she was severely burned. Soon after, it became apparent that Heches' injuries were severe. By August 12, Heche was expected to survive, and later that same day the news became public.
Heche's brain had ceased to function on Friday, although she was kept on life support until Sunday so that her organs might be donated for donation. Other publications reported the actress to be deceased from a legal perspective, while others waited until her body was completely shut down to use the term dead.
And, like individuals, media outlets will have differing views on the matter. One publication or website might consider brain death to be death in the same way as the California statute does, while another's editorial guidelines may require more, leading some places to wait days to call the actress dead after so many others have already.
Anne Heche is well-known among those who knew her. For what it is worth, many of the remembrances began on Friday, as it was that day that her friends and colleagues knew she had passed away.