Cops are baffled by explosive claims that Meghan Markle’s half sister was run off the road and hospitalized by a paparazzo because they can’t find any evidence the crash happened, DailyMail.com can reveal.
Officers from the Florida Highway Patrol spent three hours trawling their database for details after TMZ reported that the car Samantha Grant, 53, was travelling in struck a concrete barrier on Wednesday afternoon.
And after their search turned up empty they even warned the driver, her 60-year-old boyfriend Mark Phillips, could be guilty of a hit and run misdemeanor – punishable by two months in jail – for failing to report an accident.
‘Even if they hit a stationary property such as a wall under Florida law you are required to report that to law enforcement,’ Lt. Kim Montes told DailyMail.com.
‘If you didn’t that’s considered to be a hit and run.’ Lt. Montes said she reached out to TMZ after they splashed the story online along with a photo of Grant, who has MS and is confined to a wheelchair, receiving treatment in an unidentified hospital.
Fractured claims: Samantha Markle told TMZ that she had a ‘paparazzi confrontation’. She released a picture from an unnamed hospital and her partner claimed she had a broken ankle and possible fracture knee. But law enforcement can find no evidence of the crash she described
Claim: TMZ said that Samantha grant was injured after Mark Phillips swerved into a barrier near a toll booth while trying to avoid a photographer who veered in front of them to get pictures
Is this proof of contact with a concrete barrier at a toll booth? One of the vehicles on her property – a Ford Club Wagon – has scrapes but they do not appear fresh or consistent with Phillips’s account to TMZ
No dings here: The couple’s Dodge minivan showed no evidence of crashing into a concrete barrier
The report said Grant suffered a broken ankle and a fractured knee after Phillips swerved into a barrier near a toll booth while trying to avoid a photographer who veered in front of them to get pictures.
Montes said the reporter for the LA-based gossip site could only say the accident happened somewhere along Interstate 4 – a 133-mile stretch of highway running coast to coast between Tampa and Daytona Beach that does not have a single toll booth.
She widened her search to include all the major roads around the central Florida city of Ocala, where Grant lives, as well as the Florida Turnpike – which does have toll booths – but still couldn’t find anything.
The reporter could not even offer an approximate time for the alleged smash that reportedly saw Grant hurled into the windshield before ending up on the floor mat, twisting her leg backward.
‘We looked for three hours last night. She lives in Ocala but there’s no toll roads in Ocala.
‘The nearest toll road would be the turnpike so we checked the turnpike, we checked I4, we checked all these other roads,’ Lt Montes said.
‘We checked by her name, we checked by his name and we didn’t find any reports. So we don’t know if this actually happened.
‘We can’t find any reports basically from all of central Florida. We can’t find a report by name or a scenario that was similar to this.’
If the collision did happen and the car simply drove away it could lead to a charge of second degree misdemeanor property damage punishable up to 60 days in prison and a $500 fine.
Lt Montes said the description of the injuries and the manner in which Grant hit the windscreen could also suggest she wasn’t wearing a seat belt, another potential violation punishable by $30 fine.
‘Just based on my 23 years of experience you typically don’t end up on the floor boards of a vehicle unless you’re not buckled or not buckled properly,’ she added.
TMZ’s report said the mysterious paparazzo fled the crash scene and did not include any photos or description of him, his vehicle or his plate.
DailyMail.com has spoken to several Florida news and pictures agencies and they all deny any knowledge of the accident.
One leading agency, Splash News, took photos of Grant outside her home Wednesday before the alleged incident is thought to have taken place. They declined to comment.
Ugly split: Samantha Markle’s mother and daughter are both estranged from her. Roslyn Markle, her mom, has described how Samantha called Doria Ragland, Meghan’s mom, ‘the maid’ because she is black, while Noel Rasmussen, Samantha’s daughter, says she was abused by her as a child.
Court document: Although Samantha denies child abuse, a court recorded the findings of a children, youth and families department investigation which said child abuse claims were ‘substantiated’
Another estrangement: This is believed to be among the last times the two sisters actually met – in 2008
The only other visitor to Grant’s single-story home that day is believed to have been a reporter for a local newspaper who left the area soon after knocking on the front door.
An RV was parked outside today along with the a grey Ford minivan and a blue Dodge Caravan, both adapted for use by a disabled passenger.
The Ford had scuffs and dings towards the rear of the driver’s side but none of the vehicles appeared to have any damage consistent with a frontal collision.
While the Florida Highway Patrol is responsible for policing all the highways and major arteries across Florida, if the crash happened on a local road it could fall under the jurisdiction of a city police department or a county sheriff.
However neither the Ocala Police Department, nor the Marion County’s Sheriff’s Office – the agencies responsible for Ocala and the surrounding county – could find any reports as of Thursday afternoon.
Grant’s claim on the heels of a series of media interviews in which she has attacked bride-to be Meghan for supposedly not supporting their father Thomas Markle underwent major cardiac surgery this week and will no longer travel to London to walk his daughter down as she weds Prince Harry Saturday.
The mother-of-three has previously been accused of abusing her 19-year-old daughter Noel Rasmussen, who says she was spat at and thrown against a wall by her mother while growing up.
Noel also claimed to have been living in fear of her mother’s boyfriend Mark Phillips, 60, who moved in when she was 13.
The 19-year-old, whose father is Albuquerque-based film armorer Scott Rasmussen, went to live with Grant after her parents divorced in 2003.
Speaking to DailyMail.com last year, Noel said: ‘I do remember one [occasion] – it was when I was very young, maybe about four or five.
‘She had gotten very upset about something; I forget what it was but she picked me up by the arm and threw me into a wall.
‘A few other incidents I remember – probably when I was nine or ten – I would get scratched, spat at, hair pulled, that sort of thing.
‘This is something she did fairly often. It was more of an everyday thing.’
She continued to live with her mother – and Phillips – until March 2015 when Noel says she was thrown out.
‘There was a fight that had happened,’ she told DailyMail.com. ‘I can’t remember what it was over but it was over three, maybe four days.
‘It was just constant, constant anger [from Phillips] towards me and my mom. Eventually, my mom just said, well I’m not going to keep you and Mark in the same house and I’m not making Mark leave, so that left me to leave.’
Both Grant and Phillips have denied the allegations of abuse but documents obtained by DailyMail.com show Noel’s account was borne out by a CYFD investigation.
In an August 14 2015 letter to Noel’s father Scott, which gives him the results, the abuse allegations are described as ‘substantiated’.
The letter reads: ‘The Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) has completed its investigation in response to the report(s) alleging abuse and/or neglect of your child(ren) dated: 05/14/2015.’
Fiery confrontation: Samantha Markle went head-to-head with DailyMail.com’s Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain after her father was revealed to have co-operated with paparazzi – who she now claims caused her boyfriend to crash his car, leaving her injured
Media appearances: Samantha Markle has become a ubiquitous presence on screens around the world
Fake news: Samantha Markle has also spread fake news about her sister’s husband to be – in the course of trollig her own daughter
The investigation has concluded with an overall result of: Substantiated Physical Abuse (Emotional Abuse) by Samantha Rasmussen and Mark Phillips.’
In court, the letter was introduced without objection from either Grant or Phillips.
Noel says she is no longer in contact with her mother or Phillips but both continue to write unpleasant messages about her on Twitter, with Grant variously accusing her of being a ‘Nazi’ and of devil worship.
In one message, posted on April 23 in response to a public plea from Noel for calm, Grant wrote: ‘I don’t see why a Nazi and devil worshiping niece would plead anything except counseling help.’
The previous day, she had tweeted a link to an unsubstantiated news story that repeated Grant’s Nazi claim and included a comment that read: ‘Oh that’s right. This niece who is so lacking in credibility maybe she would be wise to say nothing. She doesn’t know my nephews or Meg.’
On April 15, Grant described Noel as ‘deviant’ in another Tweet. She wrote: ‘This girl is not credible to judge me..She was just a p***ed off teenager who could not get her way with a deviant lifestyle. Too bad.’
Grant has also been accused of racism by her mother, Roslyn, 72, who told DailyMail.com last year that her daughter would describe Meghan’s mom Doria Ragland, 61, as ‘the maid because she is black’.
Roslyn of Albuquerque, New Mexico, said: ‘When Tom Sr [Meghan’s father] married Meghan’s mom, Samantha told all her friends that Doria was the maid because she’s black. She is not a nice person.’
She added: ‘She trashes Meghan, trashes me, her dad, her brothers – she’s just been trashing everybody in her life forever.
‘I am very serious when I say she has dogged on Meghan forever. She has never liked Meghan and she’s always been jealous of her.’