Natasha Richardson Natasha Richardson

45-year-old actress Natasha Richardson passed away Wednesday evening at New York City’s Lenox Hill Hospital following a skiing accident, which resulted in a head injury. The famed actress had been on life support for the past few days and removed her from said life support early this afternoon.

“Liam Neeson, his sons, and the entire family are shocked and devastated by the tragic death of their beloved Natasha,” Neeson’s rep tells Usmagazine.com in a statement. “They are profoundly grateful for the support, love and prayers of everyone, and ask for privacy during this very difficult time.”

Richardson fell during a private lesson on a beginners trail Monday at the Mont Tremblant ski resort near Montreal. The British-born actress, who was not wearing a helmet, seemed fine at first: She had no visible injuries and was even laughing and joking after the accident, a resort rep told Usmagazine.com. About an hour later, she complained of a headache and was taken to the Centre Hospitalier Laurentien in Ste-Agathe. She was later transferred to Hopital du Sacre-Coeur in Montreal. Neeson, who was in Toronto shooting a movie, rushed to her side. Richardson was held overnight and released Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. Along with Neeson, she flew, via private jet, to New York City, where she was hospitalized at Lenox Hill Hospital.

On Tuesday evening, her family gathered at her bedside to bid their farewells. Her mother, actress Vanessa Redgrave, was seen with her head wrapped in a scarf, along with Natasha’s sister, Nip/Tuck star Joely Richardson, and grandmother Daisy followed. Her aunt, actress Lynn Redgrave, also was spotted entering the hospital. Natasha’s two sons, Micheal, 13, and Daniel, 12 — who were present Tuesday — returned Wednesday afternoon. Legendary actress Lauren Bacall was also photographed on the hospital grounds. Despite her dire condition Wednesday (multiple news organizations had reported she was brain dead), her family members remained optimistic.

“I feel sick to the pit of my stomach. I just hope she is going to be OK,” a relative, who did not wish to be identified, told Us. “We’re a strong family, and Natasha is part of that family. We’re good at putting up a fight.”

Richardson, the elder daughter of late director Tony Richardson, was a revered theater actress, having trained at London’s Central School of Speech and Drama. She appeared in a number of productions in London’s West End and Broadway. In 1998, she won a Tony for her role as Sally Bowles in a revival of Cabaret. This past January, she and her mother played the roles of mother and daughter in a one-night benefit of the Stephen Sondheim Hugh Wheeler musical A Little Night Music. Richardson also had an extensive film career, appearing The Parent Trap, Maid in Manhattan and Nell, where she met Neeson. The two wed in 1994.

Asked for her secret to a happy marriage, Richardson told Us last March, “I wish I could tell you I have it all figured out. You’ve got to keep working at it. You need a sense of humor and to be able to ride the waves.”

She will be remembered in her Upper West Side NYC neighborhood.

“Everybody loved her. She had an incredible sense of style and energy,” a neighbor told Us Tuesday night. “She filled up the room every time she walked in.”

Such a sad and shocking story. Our prayers go out to her friends and family.