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Image: Vanessa Redgrave, Joely Richardson
Vanessa Redgrave, left, mother of Natasha Richardson, is hugged by actress Laura Linney, as Richardson's sister, actress Joely Richardson, right looks on, in New York on March 19.
updated 3/20/2009 4:03:20 PM ET 2009-03-20T20:03:20

Liam Neeson looked distraught as he greeted grieving family members and friends who attended a private viewing for wife Natasha Richardson on Friday.

Neeson and sons — Micheal, 13, and Daniel, 12 — attended the viewing at the Upper East Side’s American Irish Historical Society, as well as Richardson’s mother, Vanessa Redgrave, and sister, Joely Richardson.

Also attending were Mike Nichols, Diane Sawyer, Matthew Modine, Ralph Fiennes, Uma Thurman and Mathilde Krim of the American Foundation of AIDS Research — amfAR, the charity for which Richardson had served on the board of trustees since 2006.

“She looked incredibly beautiful,” Krim said, adding that everyone appeared to in shock and Neeson looked distraught as he received everybody.

Earlier Friday, friends continued to expressed their grief over her death from the fall she took on a ski slope.

“Natasha was a very close friend of our family, so it’s been a very, very sad few days and I think it will stay that way for a good while,” Matthew Broderick said.

Actor Jonathan Cake said: “I had dinner with her Saturday night. ... She left to ski the next day.”

Theaters in London’s West End dimmed their lights Friday to mark Richardson’s death, just as Broadway theaters did Thursday. In a tribute to the stage and screen actress, the lights were lowered before the curtains went up on evening performances.

Theatergoer Andrew Nicol of London thought it was fitting. “We must not forget she was a fantastic actress in her own right, but also she was from the Redgrave family who have given so much to the U.K. in terms of acting,” he said.

Lack of helicopters could have played a role
Richardson, 45, died Wednesday at Lenox Hill Hospital after falling at the Mont Tremblant resort in Quebec on Monday. The New York City medical examiner’s office ruled Thursday her death was an accident.

Meanwhile, Montreal’s top head trauma doctor said Friday that the lack of medical helicopters in the province of Quebec may have played a role in Richardson’s death.

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“It’s impossible for me to comment specifically about her case, but what I could say is ... driving to Mont Tremblant from the city (Montreal) is a 2½-hour trip, and the closest trauma center is in the city. Our system isn’t set up for traumas and doesn’t match what’s available in other Canadian cities, let alone in the States,” said Tarek Razek, director of trauma services for the McGill University Health Centre, which represents six of Montreal’s hospitals.

Being driven by ambulance to two separate hospitals rather than airlifted by helicopter directly to a trauma center could have cost Richardson crucial moments, he said.

“A helicopter is obviously the fastest way to get from Point A to Point B,” he said.

Centre Hospitalier Laurentien, the first treatment center Richardson was brought to, does not specialize in head traumas, so her speedy transfer to Sacre Coeur Hospital in Montreal was critical, said Razek.

“It’s one of the classic presentations of head injuries, ‘talking and dying,’ where they may lose consciousness for a minute, but then feel fine,” said Razek.

Razek said immediate treatment might have helped Richardson but added: “There are so many variables it’s hard to speculate what might have been done differently.”

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: Reflecting on Richardson

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  1. Mother and daughter

    Natasha Richardson practices her knitting under the tutelage of her mother, actress Vanessa Redgrave, in 1968 in Rome. (Courtesy Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Evening out with dad

    Director Tony Richardson takes his daughters Natasha, right, and Joely to the premiere of "Dead Cert" on May 9, 1974 in London. (Harry Myers / Rex Features via Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Going goth

    Richardson, center, starred as Mary Shelley in "Gothic," a film about the night the famed author came up with the idea for her book "Frankenstein." Julian Sands, right, played her lover and Timothy Spall played Dr. Polidori. (Courtesy Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Another famous daughter

    Richardson played the heiress-turned-abductee-turned-revolutionary Patricia Hearst in the 1988 film "Patty Hearst." (Courtesy Everett Colleciton.) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Life is a 'Cabaret'

    Richardson sings while adjusting her garter in this scene from the Broadway musical revival of "Cabaret." Richardson received a Tony Award in 1989 for best actress in a musical for her work as Sally Bowles. (Joan Marcus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Lindsay's mom

    Richardson starred opposite a young Lindsay Lohan in the 1998 remake of the Disney classic "The Parent Trap." In the film, she played Elizabeth James, the designer mom of the scheming identical twins, played by Lohan. (Courtesy Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Finding Mr. Right

    Richardson, left, worked with her husband, actor Liam Neeson, right, and actress Jodie Foster in the 1994 film, "Nell." (Courtesy Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Evening out

    Richardson, left, strikes a pose with her mother, actress Vanessa Redgrave, center, and her sister, actress Joely Richardson, as they arrive for the opening of the "Typically British" exhibition at Pompidou Center in Paris on Oct. 3, 2000. (Michel Euler / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. 'Maid' for the part

    Richardson, center, played socialite Caroline Lane opposite Amy Sedaris, left, and Jennifer Lopez in the 2002 film "Maid in Manhattan." (Columbia Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Date night

    Richardson and husband Liam Neeson leave Studio 54 after the opening of "A Streetcar Named Desire" on April 26, 2005 in New York. (Brad Barket / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Playing the 'Countess'

    Richardson poses during a Rome photocall for the 2006 film "The White Countess." In the movie, Richardson plays an exiled Russian countess who strikes up a curious relationship with a blind diplomat in 1930s Shanghai. (Tiziana Fabi / AFP-Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. The men in her life

    Richardson's husband, actor Liam Neeson, left, hits the beach in St. Tropez, France, with the couple's sons, Micheal, center, and Daniel on June 13, 2008. (INFphoto.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. At the party

    Richardson was among the stars at the Vanity Fair Party to kick-off the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival in New York on April 22, 2008. (Peter Foley / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Star power

    Richardson played daughter to her real-life mother, Vanessa Redgrave, in the 2007 "Evening." In the movie, Redgrave plays a dying woman who reflects on the time in her youth when she met the love of her life, as her two daughters wrestle with their mother's impending death and their own personal issues. (Focus Features) Back to slideshow navigation
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