Matthew Broderick had just finished filming Biloxi Blues. Jennifer Grey had a few free weeks before starting the publicity rounds for her new movie, Dirty Dancing. So the busy couple—whose antagonistic brother-sister act in last year’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was the start of a more harmonious offscreen liaison—decided to take a vacation. They flew to Ireland and rented a BMW 316, planning to drive around Northern Ireland. On Aug. 5 they set out from Irvinestown to Maguiresbridge. But the jaunt ended tragically 80 miles west of Belfast in a car accident that left two dead.
Broderick, 25, was driving when, at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon, he and Grey, 27, pulled into a gas station just outside Enniskillen to ask directions. An off-duty policeman told Broderick his route was “just stupid” and offered to lead them to the right road. But the actor, on vacation from stage directions, declined and went his own way. “He wasn’t going fast,” says the policeman, who followed Broderick for a few miles. “Less than 40 mph.”
Several miles and a sudden downpour later, the pair stopped at another gas station to get their bearings. It had stopped raining, but the pavement was still wet when they pulled back onto the open country road. Some speculate that Broderick may have started driving on the right out of American habit, instead of the left, the proper side in Ireland. Less than a mile down the road, which had no curves or obstructed views, Broderick’s car collided head-on with a Volvo driven by Anna Gallagher, 28. She and her mother, Margaret Doherty, 63, were both pronounced dead on arrival at Erne Hospital.
Broderick was rushed to the same hospital with face cuts and a badly broken right leg. “We had to cut the side away from the American’s car to give him first aid,” says Ken Ramsey of the local fire brigade. Although Broderick was in agony, “his main concern was for the people in the other car,” Ramsey recalls. “He kept saying ‘Did I hurt them? Did I hurt them?’ ” Grey was only superficially bruised but covered with Broderick’s blood. “She was very brave and supportive,” says Ramsey.
“It’s a real tragedy,” says a New York friend of Grey. “Jennifer’s movie is opening, and she was finally having her moment.” The cause of the accident has yet to be determined. Broderick is not of the wild strain of some of his Brat Pack peers. “They’re not crazy in anyway,” says the friend. “I’m sure it was a total accident.” But Broderick—who may remain hospitalized for three weeks—could face legal charges if the police investigation finds any evidence of negligence.