Actress, choreographer, and former ballet dancer Zina Bethune may be best known for her numerous roles on stage and on television across a career spanning nearly six decades, including a longtime role with General Hospital, but she'll no doubt be remembered for her the kindness she showed towards even the most humble of creatures.
"Zina has been known to take care of all living things, from birds falling out of nests to relocating a snake; she's that type of human being," says Mary Avila, manager of her dance company Theatre Bathune. Sadly, however, it was Bethune's altruistic spirit which may have contributed to her tragic death just shy of her 67th birthday.
Early Sunday morning, Bethune was struck and killed by two hit-and-run drivers after she stopped her vehicle apparently to check on an injured opossum along Forest Lawn Drive in Los Angeles, reports the L.A. Times:
Bethune left her engine running and walked onto the road, then was struck by a car going in the opposite direction, said Sgt. Jeffrey Siggers of the Los Angeles Police Department's Central Traffic Division.
The impact threw her to the other side of the street, where she was run over by a second vehicle and dragged about 600 feet, Siggers said. Bethune, whose married name was Feeley, suffered severe head injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene. Police are investigating the accident.
"If she saw [the animal] moving and thought it was suffering, I know she would stop," friend Paula Woodley tells the Times.
Bethune's graciousness towards helping those in need was also reflected in her professional career as well. In 1982, the actress and dancer established a first of its kind program, called Infinite Dreams, to bring the joy of dance and theater education to disabled children. So far, over 7 thousand special-needs youngster in Los Angeles have benefitted from Bethune's pioneering community outreach.