Rick Diamond/Getty for Savannah College of Art and Design; David Becker/Getty for iHeartRadio
Bevin Prince is opening up for the first time about the death of her late husband, William Friend.
The One Tree Hill alum, 40, recalled how she navigated the “absolute living nightmare” of her husband’s death at age 33 in July, and how her fellow OTH costar Hilarie Burton-Morgan was there to support her.
Burton-Morgan, 40, drove nearly 700 miles from her farm in Upstate New York, where she lives with husband Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Prince resides in Wilmington, North Carolina, where she runs her cycling studio Recess by Bevin Prince, and where OTH filmed nine seasons from 2003 to 2012.
RELATED: William Friend, Husband of One Tree Hill‘s Bevin Prince, Dead at 33 After Being Struck by Lightning
“Hilarie got in her car when she found out my husband had passed and drove straight to my house overnight,” she said as she appeared Friday on the 1on1 with Jon Evans podcast. “She showed up on my door, and she was like, ‘Okay, what can I do?’
“And she sat with me, and she was just, once again, showing me what a special human she is. Her intention for being there was just to help in any way possible. It wasn’t, ‘Look at how good I am. Look at what I’m doing for you.’ And I’m just eternally grateful,” Prince added.
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Prince noted that their fellow OTH alum Lee Norris also came to show his support.
The actress recalled that the day Friend died over July 4 weekend as “like any other day that we’ve done a million times,” adding: “The storm was far away, we’re on the boat, everything’s fine. And then in an instant… everything has changed. There’s no normal, and there’s no playbook for it.”
Friend, who was CEO of digital media company Bisnow at the time, was pronounced dead after he was struck by lightning during a family boat outing on Sunday, July 3. Although Prince was not on the boat at the time, they were fortunately next to a boat with a nurse onboard, and a police boat was passing by.
“In my mind, there was absolutely nothing that could have been done. And I have to accept that this is larger than me and my understanding at this time,” Prince said.
Everett Collection One Tree Hill cast
After her husband was moved to the police boat, first responders began administering aid until he was transported to a nearby hospital. “So, we had two hours that we were unsure of what his fate was, and that was awful,” Prince recalled.
At his celebration of life, which took place the next weekend on his birthday, friends showed up from all over the world, and Prince noted that Friend was “the most fiercely loyal person I have ever met in my life.”
“I learned so much from him by watching how he treats people and how he shows up for them,” she said. “And every single person was there to show up for him and me. So, you just gotta get up.”
Prince said speaking at the ceremony was difficult, but she “felt, in my bones, Will holding me up.” She added that she continues to feel an undeniable spiritual connection to her husband, whom she married in May 2016.
RELATED VIDEO: William Friend, Husband of One Tree Hill’s Bevin Prince, Dead at 33 After Being Struck by Lightning
“I know that he can hear me, and I can feel him. There have been way too many things that have happened that are just divine, and I know he’s there. It’s not a question,” Prince said, adding that he’s “played pranks on me. I know he’s trying to get me to expand even quicker.”
Prince explained when she realized that Friend’s death was “so much bigger than me,” she was able to process the loss.
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“Right before he was struck, he looked at my father … he lit a cigar and he said, ‘Mike, well if we get struck by lightning, this is a good place to be. This is where I want to be.’ And then it happened,” she explained. “That, to me, really allows me the ability to process a little bit more that this is so much bigger than me, that it wasn’t coincidence and also, nothing could have been done.”