F1 legend continues to be critical in French hospital
Michael Schumacher remains in a ‘critical but stable’ condition, his spokeswoman said on Saturday, as French investigators hoped a helmet-mounted camera he was wearing at the moment of his ski accident could answer a raft of questions.
Michael Schumacher’s brother, Ralf (left), and father Rolf Schumacher arrive at the hospital in Grenoble where the racing legend is still in induced coma after his December 29 skiing accident. Pics/AFP
A spokeswoman for the retired Formula One champion denied some reports that his family had been reluctant to hand over the camera — taken by authorities on Friday — because of privacy reasons.
“Michael’s helmet camera was voluntarily given to the investigating authorities by the family,” said spokeswoman Sabine Kehm in a statement. “That this should have been done against the wishes of the family is untrue.”
The existence of the GoPro camera was publicly revealed late Friday, five days after the December 29 accident in the French Alps near the Meribel ski resort.
It had been known since Tuesday that the seven-time world racing champion hit his head on a rock so hard that his helmet was split in two.
It was not known whether the camera filmed the champion’s descent down the slope or whether the images have been damaged by the impact on the rock.
Police on Friday questioned Schumacher’s 14-year-old son Mick, who was skiing with his father at the time, as well as a friend, at the Grenoble hospital.
Kehm said Schumacher remains in “critical but stable” condition and that no more press conferences were scheduled before Monday.
Schumacher turned 45 on Friday while still in an induced coma. Fans marked the birthday with a silent vigil outside the facility, part of which was organised by Ferrari, Schumacher’s former team.
Camera could reveal speed
The GoPro miniature camera, robust and popular among extreme sports enthusiasts, has a 170-degree wide angle lens that takes in much of the view and can show parts of the user’s body including the face depending on how it is mounted.
The latest models can take up to 30 images a second for six hours. If there are images and they are usable, they should shed light on the circumstances of the accident on a small, seemingly innocuous off-piste section of Meribel located between two ski slopes — one classed as easy and the other as intermediate.
Conflicting statements have emerged, notably about how fast Schumacher was going when he crashed.
Investigators are tasked with determining responsibility in the accident, with high stakes possibly involved regarding any insurance compensation.
Albertville prosecutors and the ski resort say Schumacher was skiing at great speed. Kehm has challenged that, saying he could not have been going fast “because it appears he helped a friend who had just fallen”.
Prosecutors are also looking at whether the limits of the pistes next to the accident site were correctly marked, and whether the safety releases on Schumacher’s skis operated properly.
“I don’t think it’s normal that between two marked slopes there would be this passage with rocks showing that is not fenced off,” said Philippe Streiff, a former French racing driver.
Six days after the skiing accident, Michael Schumacher’s condition remained crictical but stable