“One Tree Hill” actor Bevin Prince is speaking out for the first time about the death of her husband, William Friend, who was struck and killed by lightning in July. Friend, who was the CEO of digital media company Bisnow, was 33.
“I’m just so proud. I’m so proud that I got to do life with him,” Prince said in a new interview with ABC News that aired Dec. 9. “He was one of the 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.”
Prince told the outlet that on July 3, she and Friend were boating with friends and family near their home in Wrightsville Beach, NC. She explained that it was something they did often. They saw a storm coming in, but kept monitoring the situation. “We look up and we can see the storm in a distance,” she explained, adding that there were “60-some” boats out there and “no urgency” from anyone to get off the water.
Prince ended up jumping to another boat with her father. Friend was struck by lightning. “It was instant,” Prince told ABC News. “They rushed over to him and, at the time, a police boat 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.”
“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,” Prince added. “I believe it was really his time.”
She explained, “He was 33 years old. It was July 3 and I believe the exact time that the lightning struck was 3:13 p.m. So knowing that all the resources were there to potentially save him, I have to believe that something bigger beyond me was calling him.”
Prince said she was so grateful for how people rallied around her, including her former “One Tree Hill” castmates Hilarie Burton and Sophia Bush. “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. “And I’m incredibly fortunate in this situation.”
Back in July, Bisnow COO and CFO Gregg Mayer said in a statement announcing Friend’s death, “What made Will special was his innate ability to inspire and motivate people — to raise people higher than they thought possible. That is the culture he fostered at Bisnow and, ultimately, that will be his lasting legacy.”
Prince, who played Bevin Mirskey on “One Tree Hill” throughout the teen drama’s run from 2003 to 2012 and had since worked as a SoulCycle instructor before opening her own spin studio in North Carolina, did not publicly react to her husband’s death at the time. Her company, Recess, however, posted a statement on Instagram shortly after news broke, saying, “We greatly appreciate the outpouring of love and support we’ve received from our Recess community. Will’s knowledge, guidance, and support is the foundation that Recess is built on.” The note continued, “Recess is the business that Will and his wife Bevin had been building and growing in their new North Carolina home. There was nothing Will respected or valued more than the American Dream, entrepreneurship, and women in business. We know he wanted to see this business continue to great success and lead to the employment of many more people. Creating rewarding and meaningful jobs for others was the legacy Will wanted to leave. Thank you for helping us to honor him in the way that we are certain he would have wanted us to.”
Prince, 40, and Friend celebrated their sixth wedding anniversary in May, just months before he died. For their fifth anniversary, Prince shared a sweet message for her husband: “We have come so far and I am so proud of the life we have built. You make life delicious, my love. I love you.”
According to the National Weather Service, lightning kills around 20 people each year in the US. Hundreds more are injured by lightning yearly.