Witness: Freeman said woman in crash is a friend

Published 4:29 pm Thursday, August 7, 2008

The woman who was injured along with Morgan Freeman in a weekend car accident apparently is a friend of the Oscar-winning actor who had offered him a ride home, a crash witness says.

Freeman, 71, was driving a 1997 Nissan Maxima that authorities said belongs to Demaris Meyer, 48, of Memphis, Tenn., when the car veered off a rural road Sunday night a few miles from Freeman’s home in the Mississippi Delta. The car flipped at least twice.

Bill Rogers, a retired police officer who was the first person to arrive at the scene, said a dazed Freeman told him that he and Meyer were headed to his home in Charleston, a small town some 90 miles south of Memphis.

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“He said that she had offered him a ride home; that they were friends and she had offered him a ride home and she didn’t really know the way and so he was going to drive the vehicle,” Rogers said Tuesday, recalling a conversation he had with the actor.

Freeman’s friend and business partner, Bill Luckett, has told the Commercial Appeal newspaper that Meyer is the actor’s friend.

Rogers said he talked to Freeman and Meyer in attempt to keep them conscious — something he was trained to do as a police officer.

“They said they were coming from Clarksdale,” Rogers said.

Freeman owns several businesses in Clarksdale, about 40 miles from his home, including the Ground Zero Blues Club and a restaurant named Madidi. Ashley Norris, the club’s manager, said Wednesday that Freeman had not been there the night of the accident. No one answered the phone at Madadi.

Rescuers used a jaws-of-life machine to free “The Dark Knight” star and Meyer from the wreckage. Freeman was airlifted to the Regional Medical Center in Memphis, Tenn. He suffered a broken arm, broken elbow and shoulder damage.

Hospital spokeswoman Kathy Stringer said Wednesday that Freeman was still listed in serious condition. The actor had surgery Monday to reconnect nerves and repair damage to his left arm and hand, according to his publicist, Donna Lee. Lee said Freeman will make a full recovery.

Hospital officials say Meyer isn’t listed in the hospital’s registry. However, under medical privacy laws, people can request that their names not be listed as patients at a hospital.

A Mississippi Highway Patrol officer said Meyer was in the Tennessee hospital when the agency called to see how she and Freeman were doing Monday night.

Calls to Meyer’s home Wednesday were not answered. Her condition was not immediately available. Rogers said Meyer did not appear to be injured as severely as Freeman.

Not much is known about Meyer. Rogers said she appeared to be an avid gardener — a hobby reportedly enjoyed by Freeman and his wife — because several gardening tools were flung around the accident scene when the car’s trunk was ripped open by the impact.

Freeman won an Oscar for his role in “Million Dollar Baby.” His screen credits also include “Driving Miss Daisy” and “The Bucket List.”