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05 Aug 2008 07:27
The Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman was said to be in a serious condition after the car he was driving flipped over several times late on Sunday.
Freeman was driving near his home in Charleston, Mississippi, at the time of the accident. The actor and a female companion were cut free by emergency workers before being airlifted to a hospital 144km away in Memphis, Tennessee.
Kathy Stringer, a spokesperson for the regional medical centre in Memphis, described the 71-year-old actor’s condition as “serious”.
The editor of the Charleston Sun Sentinel newspaper, who arrived at the scene shortly after the accident, said Freeman had been conscious and talking to rescuers.
“They had to use the jaws of life [hydraulic cutters] to extract him from the vehicle,” Clay McFerrin said.
“He was lucid, conscious.
His account was confirmed by state troopers, who added that Freeman’s 1997 Nissan Maxima had apparently gone off the road. The actor overcorrected, causing the car to flip over several times before coming to a rest.
Mississippi highway patrol Sergeant Ben Williams told the Clarion-Ledger newspaper: “Both [occupants] had some injuries, to what extent I do not know.”
Police confirmed that Freeman and his passenger were both wearing seatbelts when the accident happened at 11.30pm.
Williams said the car Freeman had been driving belonged to Demaris Meyer, of Memphis. The car left a rural highway and overturned several times. “There’s no indication that either alcohol or drugs were involved,” Williams said.
There was still no information on Meyer’s condition, he added.
Bill Luckett, a friend of the actor and co-owner of Freeman’s restaurant, Madidi, said he was sitting up and talking at the hospital.
Freeman, who is in pre-production for The Human Factor, in which he plays Nelson Mandela, has made a reputation as the voice of God and the face of the president.
The Human Factor, based on a book about the 1995 Rugby World Cup written by a British journalist, co-stars Matt Damon and is being directed by Clint Eastwood.
Freeman won an Oscar in 2004 for his supporting role in Million Dollar Baby—directed by and starring Eastwood—and was most recently seen in the summer blockbuster The Dark Knight.
He gained widespread acclaim, and a Golden Globe for best actor, for the 1990 film Driving Miss Daisy. In 1994 he was nominated for best actor for his role as Ellis Boyd Redding in the prison drama The Shawshank Redemption.
Freeman’s accident continues something of a bad run for the stars of the box-office-breaking Batman drama The Dark Knight.
Co-star Heath Ledger died of an apparent overdose before the film opened, while lead actor Christian Bale was arrested in London following allegations of assault.—guardian.co.uk
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