Morgan Freeman injured in car wreck

TUPELO, Mississippi (Reuters) - Oscar-winning U.S. actor Morgan Freeman was hospitalized in serious condition on Monday with a broken arm and other injuries after the car he was driving careened off a rural highway and rolled several times, authorities said.

Freeman, 71, was airlifted late on Sunday night to a Memphis, Tennessee, hospital, about 100 miles from the accident scene, which is near a home he keeps in Charleston, Mississippi.

A spokeswoman at Regional Medical Center in Memphis said Freeman was in serious condition but gave no further details.

Freeman’s injuries included a broken arm, a broken elbow and “minor shoulder damage,” but the actor “was in good spirits when I spoke with him a short time ago” at the hospital trauma center in Memphis, his publicist, Donna Lee, told Reuters in a statement on Monday.

She said he would undergo surgery later in the day or on Tuesday “to help correct the damage.” She added: “He says he’ll be OK and is looking forward to a full recovery.”

From the direction Freeman was traveling when he lost control of the car, he appeared to be headed toward his home, Mississippi Highway Patrol Sgt. Ben Williams said.

“The vehicle went off the edge of the road and flipped several times,” Williams said. No other car was involved in the accident.

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Williams said it was “possible” that Freeman, who co-stars in the current blockbuster Batman movie “The Dark Knight,” had fallen asleep at the wheel, but he added that authorities had ruled out alcohol as a factor in the wreck.

Freeman was conscious and talking to officers afterward, Williams said, adding that no citation had been issued in the accident.

Both Freeman and a female passenger, identified as Demaris Meyer, were wearing seat belts, but the air bags did not deploy in the 1997 Nissan Maxima registered to Meyer, Williams said. He said he did not know the extent of her injuries.

Asked about her condition and relationship to Freeman, Lee said she had no information on Meyer “as my focus has been on Morgan’s condition,” but she described Meyer and Freeman as friends.

Freeman was born in Memphis but spent much of his childhood in Mississippi and has opened a music club in the state.

Freeman won an Oscar in 2005 for his supporting role in Clint Eastwood’s boxing drama “Million Dollar Baby.” He also earned Oscar nominations for his work in the films “Street Smart,” “Driving Miss Daisy” and “The Shawshank Redemption.”

Reporting by Richard Cotton, Andrew Stern in Chicago, and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Sandra Maler