Jeremy Renner talks near-fatal snowplow accident in exclusive interview: 'I refuse to be haunted'

'Jeremy Renner: The Diane Sawyer Interview - A Story of Terror, Survival and Triumph' airs tonight at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.

ByAngeline Jane Bernabe ABCNews logo
Thursday, April 6, 2023
Jeremy Renner to discuss near-fatal accident in Diane Sawyer interview
Jeremy Renner is opening up on his near-fatal snowplow accident in his first interview since the accident with ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer.

Jeremy Renner is refusing to be "haunted" by the memory of his life-threatening snowplow accident.

In his first interview, "Jeremy Renner: The Diane Sawyer Interview -- A Story of Terror, Survival and Triumph," airing Thursday, April 6, at 10 p.m. ET on ABC, the "Avengers" star reflects on the accident and shares how he wants to move forward.

TRAILER: Jeremy Renner: The Diane Sawyer Interview -- A Story of Terror, Survival and Triumph

Actor Jeremy Renner sits down with Diane Sawyer for his first interview since his life-threatening snowplow accident. Watch Thursday, April 6 at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.

"I shifted the narrative of it being victimized or making a mistake or anything else," he said. "I refuse to be f****** haunted by that memory that way."

On New Year's Day of 2023, firefighters and paramedics responded to a 911 call regarding Renner. The caller, Renner's neighbor, Rich Kovach, told the 911 dispatcher on the phone that Renner had been "run over by a snowcat" and asked them to send help.

Jeremy Renner embraces his mother, sisters and nephew in a screengrab from the upcoming special.
ABC News

"It was blood, the amount of blood, and then he was -- he was just in such pain," Kovach told Sawyer. "And the sounds that were coming out of him -- and there was so much blood in the snow. And then when I looked at his head it appeared to me to be cracked wide open. And I could see white, I don't know if that was his skull, if it -- maybe it was just my imagination but that's what I thought I saw."

Kovach recalled calling his partner Barb Fletcher to help in that moment too.

"I just saw somebody laying there, and just a lot of blood coming from his head and just grabbed one of the towels," Fletcher said. "It was still folded and just applied pressure. I could tell he was really struggling to breathe."

Neighbors Rich Kovach and Barb Fletcher sit down for an interview with Diane Sawyer in this screengrab.
ABC News

Also on the scene with Renner was his nephew Alex Fries, 27, who said he was holding onto Renner's arm in an attempt to help him breathe.

Renner said that he "was awake through every moment."

Jeremy Renner lays in hospital bed as his nephew, Alex Fries, sits by Renner's bedside in this undated photograph taken from a Reno, Nevada, hospital following Renner's accident.

"I started moving my legs," he said. "I said, 'Oh, that one -- that one's really messed up. Oh yeah, that thing's gonna -- that's gonna be a problem.'"

"And I'm thinkin' like, 'What's my body look like? Am I just gonna be like a spine in a brain like a science experiment?'" Renner recalled. "Is that my existence now? I sorta felt like I just 'What am I -- what's my existence gonna be like?"

Jeremy Renner receives physical therapy treatment at his home in Los Angeles in this screengrab.

When Renner was finally transported to the hospital, he was initially intubated and underwent several surgeries. Unable to speak, Renner said he gestured, "I'm sorry" in sign language to his family.

"I was signing that -- 'cause I am, I'm sorry," Renner said.

He said he is grateful to the family who has stayed by his side throughout his recovery, both physical and mental.

"This is what I talk to my family about from all their perspectives, which are horrifying, that I put upon them," Renner added. "What we just endured. That's real love. It's suffering. But that feeds the seeds of what love is."

Watch "Jeremy Renner: The Diane Sawyer Interview -- A Story of Terror, Survival and Triumph" on Thursday, April 6, on ABC and next day on Hulu.