He may not have starred in those super famous movies, but nevertheless, everyone knows the iconic face of movie actor Matthew Broderick – and not just because of his excellent role in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. He’s still active though, starring in movies like Manchester by the Sea and Tower Heist. Goes without saying that Broderick is one hell of an actor, able to be cast in a wide range of roles.
But he’s also been in one hell of a strange car crash. And this is the story.
As reported by AuntyAcid, Matthew Broderick had the bad luck of being involved in a pretty nasty car accident back in the ’80s. It left two people dead, injured his own girlfriend, and landed the movie star in hospital. The crash turned Matthew’s mind into a mess:
“I don’t remember the day. I don’t remember even getting up in the morning. I don’t remember making my bed. What I first remember is waking up in the hospital, with a very strange feeling going on in my leg”.
However, the story was pieced together later. Broderick was in Ireland, vacationing with his (then) girlfriend Jennifer Grey who he met on the set of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,
Jennifer Grey was kind of famous for her role of Baby in Dirty Dancing.
But it was an even worse fate for the two women he ran over. The actor’s career might never be the same, but at least he didn’t lose his life. Grey, in turn, never managed to top her role in Dirty Dancing. The two actors would never be the same again.
The authorities came to the conclusion that the accident was Broderick’s fault.
The crash happened on a portion of a road that was perfectly straight, with no curves, which led people to speculate on the reasons for it. Was Matthew Broderick confused about the driving rules in Ireland? After all, in the U.S. the rule is to drive on the right-hand side of the road, but in the UK and Ireland it’s the opposite – you have to drive on the left. The women who died were locals, so it’s safe to assume they were pretty familiar with the driving rules.
People Magazine once asked Broderick about this issue specifically, but he only had a vague answer, saying:
“Nobody knows yet. I can’t talk about that too much.”
The actor claims he doesn’t remember. But let’s try to figure out just what happened.
Untangling the sequence of events
It was August 5, 1987, and Broderick and Grey had just rented a BMW 316 in Northern Ireland. Their goal was to drive from Irvinestown to Maguiresbridge, but a sudden torrent of rain made them stop at a gas station for shelter. The rain soon stopped, and they set off once again, driving on some very slick, wet Irish roads.
However, it was their first time in Ireland, and this is before smartphones and Google Maps, you see. It was just 3 PM and the actors found themselves lost just outside the town of Enniskillen. Eventually, they met a couple of off-duty policemen and got back on the road, after being given the right directions.
Some road trip, huh Matthew? Sheesh.
One of the officers, however, had told them their planned route was “just stupid” and said he could lead them to a better road instead. The actors declined, though, and insisted on following their (more scenic? Who knows) route. The policemen decided to tag them for a bit, following them on the road. The last thing the officer noted was that their car “wasn’t going fast.”
Everything was fine, in other words. That is, until the terrible accident that came soon after.
And it left the two Irish women dead: Margaret Doherty, who was sixty-three and a widow, was in the car together with her twenty-eight-year-old daughter, Anna Gallagher. The two were going shopping, and because Margaret was using a wheelchair due to her multiple sclerosis, it was often her daughter Anna that would drive her around if mom needed anything. Anna had a husband as well.
Broderick suffered serious injuries but he eventually recovered. Grey was, luckily, just scratched.
Everyone was rushed to the nearby Erne Hospital, where the two Irish women were pronounced dead. Matthew Broderick was diagnosed with a severely broken leg and facial lacerations, while Jennifer Grey had only sustained scratches and minor injuries.
A firefighter who was on the scene said:
“We had to cut the side away from the American’s car to give him first aid. His main concern [Broderick’s] was for the people in the other car. He kept saying: ‘Did I hurt them? Did I hurt them?’”
The two actors were relatively unknown in Ireland. Many people first heard of them after the car crash.
But fame being what it is, soon everyone was talking about the actors, with their victims forgotten. The families of the deceased soon grew frustrated, saying that the world was “only curious about the American actor” as if what happened wasn’t a tragedy, but a spectacle.
“There was a note after the accident from him saying how sorry he was – but no other contact,” one of the victim’s relatives said.
Bad Matthew, bad.
Fifteen years later, the actor allegedly tried to reach out to the families, wanting to meet in person with them. But as Martin Doherty, the son of Margaret and Anna’s brother tells it, it never happened.
Broderick was finally charged with ‘Careless Driving’, a minor offense.
But his first charge was with ‘Reckless Driving’ which is a serious criminal offense and in Ireland can land you in prison for as much as 10 years. However, the authorities eventually relented, and after he paid the bail of $4,075 and a fine of $175, he was back in the States.
Lucky for him, he never got charged with ‘Vehicular Manslaughter’. The families of the deceased called the entire thing “a travesty of justice.” And I can very well see why. But it’s also true that Matthew was completely inexperienced with driving on the opposite side of the road.
The fallout didn’t go away, in fact, it haunted Broderick for years after the incident.
Jennifer Grey, on the other hand, pretty much decided to end her career after the accident.
“I became America’s sweetheart within five days of the accident” the actress explained.
“The juxtaposition of that deep sorrow, the survivor’s guilt, and then being celebrated as the new big thing just didn’t jibe. It didn’t feel good to be the toast of the town,” she concluded.
We understand you, Jennifer.
The star even went so far as to change her appearance through aesthetic surgery: “My head was never the same, my ambition was ever the same.”
Regardless of what has actually happened, one thing is for sure – no one was the same anymore.