21-year-old actress Skye McCole Bartusiak was found dead in her apartment on Saturday. The cause of death is unknown, but her mother said that she had been suffering from epileptic seizures in the days prior to her death. She was best known for her role in The Patriot, playing Mel Gibson's youngest daughter.
She was found by her boyfriend, sitting up in bed in the garage apartment of her parents' Houston home. Helen McCole Bartusiak said, "We think she had a seizure and choked and nobody was there." She said that her daughter had suffered epileptic seizures since infancy, but they had disappeared for a few years until returning last week.
Prior to her role in The Patriot in 2000, the young actress began her career at just six years old in 1999's The Cider House Rules. She also played Michael Douglas' daughter in Don't Say a Word in 2001. Her most recent role was the lead in a 2012 low-budget thriller called Sick Boy.
Her mom said she'd recently been preparing to produce and direct her first feature film.
When they found her, her mom started cardiopulmonary resuscitation before the paramedics were able to get there. "I've done CPR on that kid more than one time and it just didn't work this time," Bartusiak said. "They were working on her for 45 minutes and could not get a heartbeat."
"We lost our girl," Helen McCole Bartusiak told CNN. She said she spent Sunday morning looking through photos of her daughter for her funeral, and came across images of her with Presidents George W. and George H.W. Bush, Mel Gibson, Dennis Hopper and Michael Douglas.
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"She was a kind and really beautiful girl ... [she] has lived such an amazing life," she said.
How absolutely heartbreaking. There are so many horror stories of child actors and actresses sliding down a slippery slope into hard-partying ways, but this girl sounds like she had a really good head on her shoulders. It was obviously a life cut way too short.
Have you ever dealt with epilepsy?
Image via Skye McCole Bartusiak/Facebook