Rebecca Gayheart is opening up about a tragic moment from her past.
On The Only One in the Room podcast, Gayheart, 47, discussed the 2001 car accident that resulted in the death of a 9-year-old boy, Jorge Cruz Jr.
“I had a very terrible accident happen. A 9-year-old child died. And, you know, everything changed from that, and, I still have trouble talking about it,” she explained.
On June 13, 2001, Gayheart was driving a vehicle owned by her Dusk Til Dawn 3 costar Marco Leonardi when she accidentally struck Cruz as he was walking across the street in Los Angeles.
Cruz died from the injuries sustained the following day, and Gayheart paid the family $10,000 for funeral expenses.
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.
Following the accident, the Beverly Hills, 90210 actress found it difficult to move on, and considered taking her own life.
“I just didn’t want to live after that accident. That’s what it came down to. 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,” she said.
“I just didn’t understand; I didn’t understand any of it, like, I had led, you know, sort of a charmed life up until then, even though I grew up dirt poor,” she added, noting that she had a great career, family and friends. “It just turned my world upside down and I lost faith in everything, like, I questioned God, like, ‘Why me? Why Jorge?’”
The actress was married to Grey’s Anatomy star Eric Dane from 2004 until last year, when she filed for divorce, citing “irreconcilable differences.” The pair have two children, Billie, 9 and Georgia, 7.
And 18 years since the accident, Gayheart is still grappling with what happened.
“I struggle with the ‘Why?’ still,” she explained. “I still replay it in my head of, ‘Had I stopped at the gas station, maybe I wouldn’t have been on that street.’ You know, those things never go away. They stay with you forever and I did not cope very well after. Listen, I just didn’t want to live after that accident.”
However, the actress has found both happiness and further success in her life, and tries to keep a positive mindset.
“Today, I am able to ponder those questions and still realize that I deserve to be happy,” she concluded. “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.”