Heche, 31, reportedly parked her car along a highway and then walked about a mile to a house in Cantua Creek, located near Highway 33 in rural western Fresno County in Central California. Sheriff's deputies were called to the home around 4:30 p.m. They said the star of such films as Six Days, Seven Nights and 1998's Psycho cooperated with them and then asked for an ambulance.
According to a deputy's report obtained by Fresno's NBC affiliate, KSEE-TV, Heche (who, according to witnesses, was wearing just a bra, shorts and shoes) told the deputy "she was God and was going to take everyone back to heaven with her...on some sort of spaceship."
Authorities had Heche taken to University Medical Center in Fresno, and she reportedly was released two hours later. Sheriff's Lt. Merrill Wright described the call as simply a "medical situation" and said there was no criminal investigation planned. No word from the hospital or deputies on what was ailing the actress, but sources told the Fresno Bee that Heche appeared to be under the influence of a controlled substance, most likely the drug Ecstacy. Reps for both Heche and DeGeneres could not immediately be reached for comment.
According to Los Angeles broadcast reports, Heche boarded a plane early Monday morning to Toronto, where she's due to begin shooting John Q with Denzel Washington. The film stars Washington as a father who takes a hospital emergency room hostage; Heche plays a hospital administrator.
The bizarre incident came just hours after Heche and the 43-year-old former star of ABC's Ellen publicly announced their breakup after three and a half years together. "Unfortunately, we have decided to end our relationship," the couple said in a statement. "It is an amicable parting, and we greatly value the three and a half years we have spent together."
The only celebs usually found hanging out in Fresno are Alan Autry (homegrown fella who once played Bubba on In the Heat of the Night) and legendary college-hoops coach Jerry Tarkanian. But then again, DeGeneres and Heche are well-known for seeking out all things anti-Hollywood: The pair once threatened to "quit Hollywood" and move to Ojai, a hilly, secluded artists' enclave north of Los Angeles (which, by the way, is nowhere near Fresno).
Aracelli Campiz, who reportedly helped out Heche when the actress arrived at her Fresno County home, told KSEE-TV Monday about the strange celebrity run-in.
"She was saying a lot of funny things, that's all," Campiz told the station, adding that Heche was tired and dehydrated after walking in the 90-degree heat. "She even put on a pair of my slippers and she made me put on a pair of slippers, too."
Heche isn't the first celeb to wander onto a stranger's doorstep. In July of 1996, Robert Downey Jr. broke into a neighbor's home in Malibu and began sleeping on a child's bed. A few months prior, Superman actress Margot Kidder, dazed and filthy, was found in the backyard of a Glendale, California, home.
(UPDATED at 7 p.m. PT on 8/21/00)