When Visiting Ireland In 1987, Matthew Broderick Accidentally Killed Two Women In A Car Wreck
America celebrates Matthew Broderick for starring in cult classics like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, but the star is not so well remembered in other parts of the world. Back in August of 1987, Matthew Broderick committed manslaughter while traveling through Northern Ireland, a fact that is often swept under the rug when mentions of Broderick crop up.
At the time of the incident, Broderick was vacationing with his then-girlfriend Jennifer Grey (who plays Broderick's sister in Ferris Bueller's Day Off). The two decided to squeeze in the trip after Broderick finished filming Biloxi Blues and before Grey began making publicity rounds for Dirty Dancing.
Broderick was responsible for a car accident that took the lives of two women. Even after the event had been reported, Broderick was never charged with vehicular manslaughter, however, prompting outrage from the victims' friends and family. Life moves pretty fast, and if you're not careful, your fame might just lead to something unfortunate.
- Photo: Kenneth Allen / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0
Broderick And Grey Chose To Drive Around Ireland On A Rainy Day
After flying into Northern Ireland, Broderick and Grey rented a BMW 316. On August 5, 1987, the stars began the drive from Irvinestown to Maguiresbridge. At some point along the way, they stopped at a gas station, got directions from a police officer, and it started raining.
They got back on the road, but encountered a second downpour some time later. The couple stopped at yet another gas station, and when they got back on the road, the pavement was still noticeably slick from the earlier rains.
- Photo: The Freshman / TriStar Pictures
A Police Officer Described Broderick's Route As "Just Stupid"
At approximately 3:00 in the afternoon, Broderick and Grey found themselves just outside Enniskillen, and slightly lost. To get back on track, they asked an off-duty policeman for directions.
After listening to their tale, the officer informed them that the route they were on was “just stupid” and offered to lead them to a more sensible road. All kindness aside, Broderick wasn't interested in a change of plans, and the couple departed along their original route. The officer followed their car for a few miles, and noted that Broderick “wasn’t going fast.” He estimated that the car was moving less than 40 mph.
The Women Who Died Were On A Family Outing
The two casualties of the accident were related to one another. Margaret Doherty, a 63-year-old widow, suffered from multiple sclerosis, and had been confined to a wheelchair for five years leading up to the event.
Her 28-year-old daughter, Anna Gallagher, lived just 45 miles away and would often come by to take her mother shopping. At the time, Gallagher and her husband had been hoping to start a family. Both passed at Erne Hospital.
- Photo: Ardfern / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
Broderick Sustained A Sizable Injury
After the incident, Broderick was rushed to Erne Hospital, along with the two women. As a result of the wreck, Broderick's face was cut up, and his leg was badly broken.
“We had to cut the side away from the American’s car to give him first aid,” a member of the local fire brigade told People. “His main concern was for the people in the other car,” he added.
“He kept saying ‘Did I hurt them? Did I hurt them?'"
Grey was the luckiest of the bunch, and walked away with a few bruises.
Broderick Remained In The Hospital For A Month
After Broderick had been stabilized, he was eventually transferred to Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital, where he stayed for about a month. There, the actor was charged with reckless driving, an offense that can come with a hefty prison sentence.
Broderick was eventually allowed to return to the United States, but only after paying $4,075 in bail.
- Photo: Highway Patrol Images / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0
Broderick Was Charged With “Careless Driving,” A Relatively Minor Offense
Though Broderick potentially faced up to 10 years in prison – five years for each death – the star got off a lot easier than that. Broderick was convicted of careless driving, but was only ordered to pay a $175 fine. All told, the star was ordered to pay less than $5,000 for his role in the fatal accident.
At no point during the proceedings was Broderick charged with vehicular manslaughter, and the victims’ family called the ruling “a travesty of justice.”