“One Tree Hill” actor Bevin Prince is opening up about the death of her husband, Will Friend, five months after he died following a lightning strike.
“I’m just so proud. I’m so proud that I got to do life with him,” Prince told ABC News’ Erielle Reshef in her first TV interview since Friend’s death in July. “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.”
The TV star, whose segment aired Friday morning on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” shared details of the harrowing day and recounted how her husband was struck by lightning while boating with friends near their home in Wrightsville Beach in North Carolina.
“We look up and we can see the storm in a distance,” Prince said. “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 fitness trainer said there were more than 60 boats on the water. Prince had been in a separate boat with her father at the time, then the weather changed in an “instant” and Friendwas struck.
“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.’ And then it happened,” she said. “It was instant.”
The 40-year-old said that there were people on a boat nearby who helped — a nurse and someone who had served in the military. They moved him over to a police boat quickly and spent “a lot of time and care trying to resuscitate him.” Local news outlets reported at the time that marine units from the local sheriff and police departments responded after being flagged down during routine patrol. Deputies performed CPR on Friend while taking him to the marina to meet emergency medical services. EMS attempted to resuscitate him in an ambulance for 20 minutes but failed. His body was then taken to a hospital to meet with family members.
Given the circumstances, however, Prince said she believes “it was really his time” and that there was “divinity” in his death.
“He was 33 years old. It was July 3 and I believe the exact time that the lightning struck was 3:13 p.m.” she said. “So knowing that all the resources were there to potentially save him, I have to believe that something bigger beyond me was calling him.”
Friend wed Prince in 2016. He was the chief executive of business-to-business platform Bisnow and helped the company attain global recognition in the commercial real estate industry, according to the company website. He joined the company fresh out of college in 2010. He also helped foster his wife’s cycling company, Recess, that they had been growing from their new North Carolina home.
“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.
As for how she’s tried to recover from the loss, she said there were two options.
“You can choose to stay on this planet or you can choose to not. The latter isn’t really an option for me,” she said. “Will lived such a life of purpose. 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.”
Prince experienced an outpouring of love and support from her TV co-stars and friends following her husband’s death.
“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 said, adding that she feels “incredibly fortunate.”
On Dec. 2, Prince also opened up on the “1 on 1 With Jon Evans” podcast and described it as “an absolute living nightmare.”
“It was like any other day that we’d done a million times. The storm was far away, we’re on the boat, everything’s fine,” Prince said. “And then in an instant, everything has changed… There’s no normal, and there’s no playbook for it.”