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Jeremy Renner didn’t want to write what could have been his final words to his family, but he had one request he couldn’t ignore.
Speaking with Diane Sawyer in an interview that aired on ABC Thursday — Jeremy Renner: The Diane Sawyer Interview — A Story of Terror, Survival and Triumph — the 52-year-old actor emotionally recalled what the note he labored to compile in his phone from the hospital said, immediately following his near-death snowplow accident on Jan. 1.
“I’m writing down notes in my phone — my last words to my family,” said Renner.
He teared up before revealing what the note said: “‘Don’t let me live on tubes, on a machine. And if my existence is going to be on drugs and painkillers, just let me go now.’ ”
Renner was trying to save his nephew from being run over by a snowplow when the vehicle began to slide and crushed the actor, according to an incident report released by authorities in Nevada in January.
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Diane Sawyer and Jeremy Renner.
The New Year’s Day accident resulted in Renner suffering “blunt chest trauma and orthopedic injuries” and breaking 30-plus bones, requiring him to undergo multiple surgeries as a result.
He was initially left in “critical but stable condition” after his snowplow (said to weigh at least 14,330 lbs.) ran him over while he was helping a family member get a “stuck” vehicle out of the snow.
Renner also got visibly emotional when recalling telling his family “I’m sorry” in sign language from his hospital bed, as he couldn’t yet speak.
“I was signing that … ’cause I am. I’m sorry,” the Oscar nominee told Sawyer, 77. “I mean, I did that to them. And it’s my responsibility, you know? I feel bad that my actions caused so much pain.”
RELATED VIDEO: Jeremy Renner Suffered Snowplow Accident While Trying to Save Nephew, Says Sheriff’s Office Report
When asked by the journalist whether he remembers the pain, Renner said, “Oh, all of it. I was awake through every moment.”
Family, fans, friends and colleagues, including several of Renner’s Marvel costars, have rallied around the Hawkeye actor in the wake of his accident and the three months since.
Renner recalled to Sawyer thinking he would have died if his nephew Alex had not been there immediately following the incident.
“If I was there, on my own, that would’ve been a horrible way to die,” he said. “And surely, I would’ve. Surely. But I wasn’t alone — [I was with] my nephew. Sweet Alex. And the rest of the calvary came.”
Jeremy Renner: The Diane Sawyer Interview — A Story of Terror, Survival and Triumph is available to stream on Hulu now.