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Former FBI director Freeh, injuried in crash, thanks medical staff in Lebanon

New Hampshire Sunday News

August 30. 2014 7:49PM
Louis Freeh, trustee of MF Global Holdings Ltd., speaks during a Senate Banking Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, April 24, 2012. The trustees and foreign authorities overseeing the bankruptcy of MF Global Holdings Ltd. face competing and conflicting duties that are delaying the return of customer and creditor funds, one of the company's trustees said in testimony today. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

The former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation has thanked the medical staff at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, where he is recovering from injuries he suffered in a single-car crash in Vermont last week.

Louis Freeh issued a statement through his longtime friend, U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who visited Freeh at his bedside Friday. In it, Freeh expressed his "deep appreciation to the talented medical professionals who are providing me excellent medical care."

"I will forever be grateful to them for their wonderful work which will enable me to recover," Freeh said.

According to Vermont state police, Freeh, 64, was driving on a rural stretch of Route 12 in Barnard, Vt., shortly after noon last Monday when his vehicle went off the left side of the road, striking a mailbox and a row of shrubs before coming to rest against a tree.

Freeh was flown by helicopter to DHMC for what police called serious injuries. He later underwent surgery at the hospital, according to published reports.

Freeh was wearing his seatbelt when he crashed, and state police said their preliminary investigation indicated that alcohol or drugs were not factors in the crash. Police also said there were no skid marks at the crash scene.

Capt. Ray Keefe of Vermont State Police on Friday said police have no reason to believe there was any foul play involved in the crash.

"It's consistent with somebody who either fell asleep, was very distracted or had a medical or mechanical issue."

He said police were still waiting to interview the injured man "and find out what he recalls."

But Keefe said it's most likely that Freeh nodded off. "It was a warm summer afternoon, and I'll tell you from my years of experience, that's the time we see people fall asleep at the wheel."

"In our world, this is a very basic, simplistic crash," he said.

Published reports in the days after the crash indicated that Freeh was under guard at the hospital, leading some to wonder if there was more to the incident, given Freeh's leadership during FBI investigations into the bombings at the federal building in Oklahoma City and the Olympic park in Atlanta, the crash of TWA Flight 800 and the Unabomber case.

Earl Sweeney, New Hampshire's assistant commissioner of safety, said New Hampshire troopers are not guarding the former FBI director. However, he said, the department did offer its help if needed.

"When we learned of his accident and that he was hospitalized in New Hampshire, we contacted the FBI office, as we would in a case like this, to express our best wishes for his recovery and to offer assistance if they needed anything," Sweeney wrote in an email. "I haven't heard that they have requested anything, so the FBI is probably handling whatever is being done in the way of security."

Keefe said he believes FBI agents were watching over Freeh in the first days after the crash while he was "incapacitated."

In his statement Friday, Freeh thanked his "devoted family and friends" for their support, and also thanked FBI Director James Comey and bureau employees for their support and prayers.

"From the very first moments of the accident to the present, their devotion, vigilance and prayers have sustained me and my family," he said.

Keefe confirmed reports that the first person to arrive at the scene of the crash and offer help to the injured driver happened to be an off-duty FBI agent. And while that may have fanned the cloak-and-dagger talk last week, Keefe said it was just a coincidence.

"It can be a small world at times," he said.

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