Natasha Richardson's death 'was never real' for husband Liam Neeson

Liam Neeson on "60 Minutes"

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By Anna Chan

It's been nearly five years since actress Natasha Richardson died suddenly after a skiing accident in Canada in 2009, and her husband, actor Liam Neeson, said it's still hard to believe she's gone.

In a new "60 Minutes" interview, the 61-year-old star tells host Anderson Cooper that sometimes, he still thinks it's going to be his wife when he hears a door opening in their New York home. "(Her death) was never real. It still kind of isn't," he said.

Neeson, who stars in the upcoming action film "Non-Stop," also shared the heartbreaking moments when he saw his wife after her accident. When he finally made it to her bedside after being denied access because nobody recognized him at the Montreal hospital, Neeson said he knew what had to be done.

"I was told she was brain dead, I'm seeing this X-ray, it was like, 'Wow,'" he recounted during the interview. "I just told her I loved her, said, 'Sweetie, you're not coming back from this. You banged your head. It's ... I don't know if you can hear me, but it's ... this is what's gone down. We're bringing you back to New York, and your family and friends will come.' "

She died March 18 at a Manhattan hospital, two days after her accident. Richardson was 45.

The autopsy noted her official cause of death as an epidural hematoma. According to the Mayo Clinic, an epidural hematoma occurs when a blood vessel ruptures, causing the blood to form a mass that compresses the brain tissue. 

The actor explained that there was no hesitation to remove his wife from life support. "She and I had made a pact: If any of us go into a vegetative state, we'd pull the plug," he said. "So when I saw her and saw all these tubes and stuff, that was my immediate thought, was, 'OK, these tubes have to go. She's gone.' "

Neeson also revealed that his wife "is keeping three people alive." The actress' heart, liver and kidneys were donated.

"It's terrific," the actor said of donating her organs. "I think she would be very thrilled and pleased with that too."

A pictorial look at actress Natasha Richardson’s life and career as a member of an acting dynasty

Watch Neeson's full "60 Minutes" interview Sunday, Feb 23 at 7 p.m. on CBS. His latest film, "Non-Stop," opens Feb. 28.