In the days before she died Saturday at 21, Skye McCole Bartusiak had epileptic seizures, according to her mother.
Bartusiak, who made a lasting impression on the big screen portraying the daughter of Mel Gibson in The Patriot (2000), first dealt with seizures as a baby, Helen McCole Bartusiak told CNN. The seizures stopped for a few years before returning last week, she said.
Her boyfriend found Bartusiak sitting in her bed inside the garage apartment next to her parents’ Houston home, leading her mother to believe she had a seizure and choked. “Nobody was there,” she told CNN.
Before paramedics arrived, her mother started cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Bartusiak. Paramedics spent 45 minutes trying to revive the actress, but could not get a heartbeat.
“I’ve done CPR on that kid more than one time, and it just didn’t work this time,” said Bartusiak’s mother.
Now, she’s honoring her daughter, who also appeared in The Cider House Rules (1999), Don’t Say a Word (2001) and Boogeyman (2005). “She was a kind and really beautiful girl,” said her mother, who remembered Bartusiak as she looked through photographs – including snapshots of the actress with Gibson, Michael Douglas and Dennis Hopper – ahead of the funeral.
Added her mother to CNN: “The girl has lived such an amazing life.”