TUPELO, Mississippi (Reuters) - Oscar-winning U.S. actor Morgan Freeman was hospitalized on Monday with a broken arm and other injuries after the car he was driving careened off a highway and rolled several times, authorities said.
Freeman, 71, lost control of the car late on Sunday near a home he keeps in Charleston, Mississippi. He was airlifted to a Memphis, Tennessee, hospital, 100 miles away.
“The vehicle went off the edge of the road and flipped several times,” Mississippi Highway Patrol Sgt. Ben Williams said. No other car was involved in the accident.
A spokeswoman at Regional Medical Center in Memphis said Freeman was in serious condition but gave no details.
Freeman’s publicist, Donna Lee, said later that the actor’s injuries included a broken arm, a broken elbow and “minor shoulder damage.”
She said he would undergo surgery later Monday or on Tuesday, but was in good spirits. “He says he’ll be OK and is looking forward to a full recovery,” Lee said.
Rescue workers had to pry Freeman from the crumpled vehicle using hydraulic tools, but the actor appeared coherent as he was tended to beside the ambulance, said Clay McFerrin, editor of The Charleston Sun-Sentinel newspaper, who arrived on the scene shortly after the crash.
When Freeman, lying prone on a backboard, noticed onlookers taking pictures with cell phones, McFerrin said he heard the actor joke, “No freebies, no freebies.”
Williams said it was possible that Freeman, who stars in the blockbuster Batman movie “The Dark Knight,” had fallen asleep at the wheel. He said authorities had ruled out alcohol as a factor in the wreck and no citation was issued.
Both Freeman and a female passenger, identified as Demaris Meyer, were wearing seat belts, but air bags did not deploy in the automobile registered to her, Williams said. He said he did not know the extent of Meyer’s injuries.
Lee described Meyer and Freeman as friends but had no information about her condition. Nor did the hospital.
Attorney Bill Luckett, who co-owns a restaurant and blues club with Freeman in Clarksdale, Mississippi, told CNN the actor was “in good spirits, but he’s in a lot of pain.”
Freeman was born in Memphis but spent much of his childhood in Mississippi.
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 Doina Chiacu