Witness inadvertently filmed Schumacher accident
F1 legend Michael Schumacher remained in critical condition yesterday a week after his skiing accident in the French Alps, which a German eyewitness said he inadvertently caught on his smartphone.
Investigators are focusing on the retired racer’s speed when he fell and slammed his head on a rock on a small off-piste section of the Meribel ski resort, prompting his evacuation by helicopter to Grenoble.
They are hoping that a helmet-mounted camera Schumacher was wearing will provide some clues, as will footage by a 35-year-old German steward who says he was filming his girlfriend on the slopes when by chance he captured the moment when the retired driver fell.
In the background, a skier is seen descending an unmarked run between two groomed pistes before falling, news magazine Der Spiegel reported.
According to the witness, who spoke to the magazine, the seven-time world champion was descending the slope at a “leisurely” pace — “a maximum speed of 20 kilometres an hour”. He plans to hand over the footage to investigators.
This would corroborate claims by Schumacher’s spokeswoman Sabine Kehm, who said he could not have been going fast “because it appears he helped a friend who had just fallen”.
But in a press conference last week, doctors who treated Schumacher said he had been skiing at great speed when he fell on December 29.
Edouard Bourgin, a specialist on accident claims, said there could have been “a catapult effect that explains the violence of the shock, even in the absence of excessive speed”.
Prosecutors are also looking at whether the limits of the ski runs next to the accident site were correctly marked and whether the rock in question was lying close enough to the piste to require some kind of protection or signage.
In addition, they are examining whether the safety releases on Schumacher’s skis operated properly in a probe aimed at determining responsibility for the accident.
Schumacher turned 45 on Friday, and fans marked the birthday with a silent vigil outside the facility. His wife Corinna and two children have been at his bedside throughout, and other family members have come to visit, including his father Rolf and his brother Ralph.
Kehm said Schumacher remains in a “critical but stable” condition after he underwent two surgeries earlier in the week to ease pressure and bleeding in the brain.
No further press conferences were scheduled until today, and prosecutors and police probing the circumstances of the accident will brief journalists around the middle of the week, public prosecutor Patrick Quincy said yesterday.
Fight Michael: Mika
Mika Hakkinen, the double F1 world champion, has written to his former rival wishing him a quick recovery. He said: “Your accident is now just another challenge. You have to fight hard again, just like we both used to do on the track. Do me a favour: just this once don’t try to beat the clock. You don’t have to post your best time in this race. You have to take all the time you need.”
A week after his accident, Michael Schumacher remains in a “critical but stable” condition