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JACKSON, Miss. - Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman was in a hospital in Memphis, Tenn., on Monday after being seriously injured in a car accident near his home in Mississippi.
Regional Medical Center spokeswoman Kathy Stringer said Freeman, 71, is in serious condition. The hospital is about 90 miles north of the accident scene in rural Tallahatchie County in the Mississippi Delta.
Mississippi Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. Ben Williams said Freeman was driving a 1997 Nissan Maxima belonging to Demaris Meyer of Memphis when the car left a rural highway and flipped several times shortly before midnight Sunday.
"There's no indication that either alcohol or drugs were involved," Williams said. He said both Freeman and Meyer were wearing seat belts. The woman's condition was not immediately available.
Freeman was airlifted to the hospital in Tennessee.
Clay McFerrin, editor of Sun Sentinel in Charleston, said he arrived at the accident scene on Mississippi Highway 32 soon after it happened about 5 miles west of Charleston, not far from where Freeman owns a home with his wife.
McFerrin said it appeared that Freeman's car was airborne when it left the highway and landed in a ditch.
"They had to use the jaws of life to extract him from the vehicle," McFerrin said. "He was lucid, conscious. He was talking, joking with some of the rescue workers at one point."
McFerrin said bystanders converged on the scene trying to get a glimpse of the actor.
When one person tried to snap a photo with a cell phone camera, Freeman joked, "no freebies, no freebies," McFerrin said.
"I'm definitely concerned," country singer and fellow Mississippian Steve Azar, whose video for his hit "Waitin' on Joe" featured Freeman, said Monday. The two have also worked charity events together. "He's been the best ambassador our state has ever had.
"He could live anywhere in the world and he came back home. I just think it shows a lot about him as a person and how grounded he is."
Freeman won an Oscar for his role in "Million Dollar Baby." His screen credits also include "The Shawshank Redemption," ''Driving Miss Daisy" and "The Dark Knight," now in theaters.
He was born in Memphis, Tenn., but spent much of his childhood in the Mississippi Delta. He is a co-owner of the Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale.
The hospital where Freeman is being treated is commonly known as The Med, and is an acute-care teaching facility that serves patients within 150 miles of Memphis.