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Wife relates final minutes of John Ritter's life

John Ritter's widow gave emotional testimony about the last hours of his life on Monday, during a wrongful death lawsuit against two doctors who were treating the actor.

John Ritter's widow gave emotional testimony about the last hours of his life on Monday, during a wrongful death lawsuit of two doctors who were treating the actor.

Ritter, 54, died in 2003 of a torn aorta after being treated for a heart attack.

The star of 1970s sitcom Three's Company had been rushed to hospital in Burbank, Calif., after falling ill while on the set of Eight Simple Rules...for Dating My Teenage Daughter.

His wife, Amy Yasbeck, told the court she was summoned to the hospital and told her husband needed an angiogram to treat a heart attack.

Ritter asked Dr. Joseph Lee, who was treating him, if he could get a second opinion before he agreed to the procedure, Yasbeck testified in a Glendale, Calif.

Lee is being sued along with radiologist, Dr. Matthew Lotysch in the wrongful death suit.

"Dr. Lee said: 'No, there's no time. You're in the middle of a heart attack,"' Yasbeck testified.

Sobbing, she described how she tried to encourage her husband.
 
"I leaned down to John's ear and said: 'I know you're scared but you have to be brave and do this because these guys know what they're doing.' And he was brave for all the time I saw him," she said.

Yasbeck described mouthing the words "I love you" to Ritter as he was wheeled away.

Later, another doctor explained to Yasbeck that Ritter's aorta had shredded and "it was a bad thing," she said.

A surgeon came later to tell her and Ritter's first wife, Nancy Ritter, who was also waiting, that he had died.

"He said it was over and John's dead, that they worked on John for a long time but the damage was done by the time he got there. It was a fait accompli and John was dead," Yasbeck said.

Both Yasbeck and Nancy Ritter testified how much their children missed their father. Yasbeck's daughter, Stella, was just five at the time he died.

"And Stella, every day she wakes up and there's a new way to miss her father. I can't make up for that," Yasbeck said. "It's a new road to face every day."

The radiologist is named in the suit because he gave Ritter a body scan two years earlier and said his aorta was healthy.

The current $67-million US lawsuit follows settlements with the hospital and eight other medical personnel for about $14 million US.

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