For stars who live their life in the spotlight, it’s often difficult to escape past mistakes. Even celebrities who got off easy for serious crimes can’t avoid the air of scrutiny that follows them everywhere. For instance, despite decades of success, actor Matthew Broderick can’t ignore the fact that, during a trip to Northern Ireland in 1987 with his Ferris Bueller’s Day Off co-star and then-girlfriend, Jennifer Grey, an unexpected car accident led to the death of two other individuals.
According to People, Broderick and Grey rented a BMW, but the couple got lost multiple times on their drive north. While a “sudden downpour” left the roadway wet, “[s]ome speculate that Broderick may have started driving on the right out of American habit.” The reason? Despite the fact that the road “had no curves or obstructed views,” the actor’s car “collided head-on with a Volvo,” killing a woman named Anna Gallagher and her mother, Margaret Doherty.
“We had to cut the side away from the American’s car to give him first aid,” Ken Ramsey, of the local fire brigade, said at the time. Ramsey added that, while Broderick was in pain, “his main concern was for the people in the other car.” Ramsey recalled, “He kept saying ‘Did I hurt them? Did I hurt them?'” Grey suffered only superficial bruises, but Ramsey noted that “she was very brave and supportive.” But when it comes to the mental repercussions of such a tragic accident, it seems neither star has ever fully recovered.
Matthew Broderick doesn't 'remember the day'
Although actor Matthew Broderick was behind the wheel when his rental car instantly killed two women, the Election star can’t recall the details of the tragic day. “I don’t remember the day,” Broderick said (via the New York Post). “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.” After the collision, Broderick “spent four weeks in a Belfast hospital with a fractured leg and ribs, collapsed lung and concussion.”
According to the Post, Broderick was first charged with “causing death by dangerous driving and faced up to five years behind bars.” However, the charges were ultimately downgraded to careless driving — for which he was fined only $175 — as he wasn’t under the influence. The victims’ family called the charges “a travesty of justice,” but Martin Doherty, brother and son of the women who died, eventually forgave the actor. “He didn’t kill my mother and sister deliberately,” he said.
Broderick, on the other hand, had a much more difficult time forgiving himself.”It was extremely difficult coming to grips with what happened, but in time I felt better about that terrible experience,” he told Best magazine (via the New York Post). “Therapy helped.”
Jennifer Grey's 'head was never the same'
For actress Jennifer Grey, the car accident in Northern Ireland left her relatively unscathed in a physical sense, but as the Dirty Dancing star told People, she never truly recovered mentally. “One minute we’re going down the road and music is playing, and the next minute… it’s all different,” she said. “I couldn’t be fearless after that.”
According to People, Grey joined Broderick on vacation before her Dirty Dancing promotional tour began. However, by the time the actress achieved superstardom alongside co-star Patrick Swayze, the accident had left her disenchanted by the prospect of fame.”I became America’s sweetheart within five days of the accident,” Grey added. “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 added: “My body was never the same, my head was never the same, my ambition was never the same.”
Grey later revealed that the whiplash from the accident left her with chronic pain for more than 20 years. It wasn’t until ABC’s Dancing with the Stars that Grey finally regained control over her body and life. “I had been suffering for so long and didn’t fully realize how pain had taken control of my life,” Grey told Brain & Life. “I stopped doing so many things that I loved, including dancing, because I didn’t want to make the pain worse.”
While the accident was incredibly unfortunate, it seems Broderick, Grey and the victims’ family have had the opportunity to heal in the aftermath of such horrific tragedy.
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