"Right before it hit him, he lit a cigar and he looked at my father and he said, 'If we get struck by lightning, Mike, this is where I wanna be,'" she recalled. "And then it happened."
“One Tree Hill” alum Bevin Prince is speaking out about the tragic death of her husband, William Friend, in her first television interview after he was killed by a lightning strike in July.
In an interview with ABC News, which aired on “GMA” on Friday morning, the actress emotionally reflected on Friend’s passing, and detailed the horrific accident that took his life.
One Tree Hill Star Bevin Prince Breaks Silence 5 Months After Husband's Tragic Death
“I’m just so proud. I’m so proud that I got to do life with him,” Prince, 40, told ABC News’ Erielle Reshef, getting choked up.
When asked what she “adored” about her late husband, the fitness instructor said, “He was one of the funniest people I’ve ever met in my life, by far. He lit up every single room he came into. You never forgot when you met Will Friend.”
Friend was struck on July 3, per the National Lightning Safety Council at the time, while on a boat near Masonboro Island in North Carolina near his Wilmington home. He was pronounced dead in an ambulance, per WECT-TV.
Prince and Friend would go boating often, with the former noting that on that day they noticed the storm brewing. Prince said they weren’t too concerned, but they were keeping an eye on it.
“There’s 60-some boats out there,” she said. “We look up and we can see the storm in a distance, but we’d been there so many times, and there was no urgency for anyone to get off the water at that time. We were watching it. We were gauging it.”
The Recess co-founder was on a separate boat from her husband, who was on a boat with her father. Suddenly, Friend was struck by lightning.
“Right before it hit him, he lit a cigar and he looked at my father and he said, ‘If we get struck by lightning, Mike, this is where I wanna be,'” Prince recalled. “And then it happened.”
“It was instant,” she continued, noting that there was a nurse and a person who was ex-military on the boat next to them. Prince said they “rushed over” to help, adding that there was a police boat that “happened to be coming by, so they moved him over to the police boat quickly. And from what I’ve heard, you know, spent a lot of time and care trying to resuscitate him. I believe it was really his time.”
Reflecting on the accident, Prince said, “There was a lot of divinity in it.”
“He was 33 years old. It was July 3 and I believe the exact time that the lightning struck was 3:13 pm,” she recalled. “So knowing that all the resources were there to potentially save him, I have to believe that something bigger beyond me was calling him.”
One Tree Hill Star Bevin Prince's Husband Killed by Lightning Strike
Following Friend’s death, many of Prince’s friends and loved ones were there to support her, including her former “One Tree Hill” co-stars, Hilarie Burton, Sophia Bush and Lee Norris.
“It’s incredible and it’s unfortunate and fortunate that in this situation it takes a tragedy to be able to see how people rally and support and love you,” Prince told Reshef. “And I’m incredibly fortunate in this situation.”
She said she’ll honor her late husband through the local fitness business they founded together, Recess.
“He believed in me and my message and what Recess really is, which is community, support, and ability to show up exactly as you are and breathe and move together,” Prince said.
When asked how she’s able to move forward following the devastating loss of Friend, Prince replied, “There’s really two options in this situation: You can choose to stay on this planet, or you can choose to not. And the latter really isn’t an option for me.”
“Will lived such a life of purpose,” she added. “I feel a responsibility to carry that on and to find my own way to continue to serve in his honor and that’s what my life will be now.”
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