The seven-time F1 champion fell and hit his head on a rock while skiing off-piste in the Meribel resort, in the French Alps, on December 29th. He remains in a medically-induced coma at the Grenoble University Hospital, with his manager Sabine Kehm releasing a statement yesterday saying he remains in a “stable” but “critical” condition. There will be no update on his condition for the time being.
In the press conference on Wednesday, chief prosecutor Patrick Quincy said the investigation was “progressing well” and had spoken to a number of witnesses to the accident, as well as Schumacher’s doctors.
He confirmed that the incident was captured on a camera positioned on the 91-time F1 race winner’s helmet, with the video being “perfectly clear”, but added that they need more time to study it frame-by-frame.
The footage confirmed that Schumacher had only just gone off-piste when the accident occurred. “He followed the red piste and he went off piste,” Quincy explained. “He is evidently an extremely good skier, but one of his skis hit a rock that was sticking out of the piste, and it caused him to fall and he hit his head on a rock. The rock that he hit is eight metres from the piste. His position after he fell was nine metres from the piste.”
“We examined the film that was realised from his helmet. This film is perfectly clear and gives us a lot of information, and it confirms all the information that we already had. We used this film to do a reconstruction of the accident.”
He dismissed media reports that the accident was caught in the background of a video by someone else: “I heard people talk about a film that was taken by a witness, but we have not received anything from this person. Personally, I doubt that really it exists.”
The speed that he was travelling at remains unclear, but Quincy said it is not regarded as an important factor in the investigation. “If necessary we will be able to say what the speed was – but speed is not a particularly important aspect for us, nor [will it be] important for decisions we will likely take at the end of the inquiry,” he said.
One of the investigators, Stephane Bozon, said there was no evidence that Schumacher’s skis failed or caused the accident. “The skis were in perfect condition. They weren’t the cause of the accident – however there is a scratch underneath the skis that proves that he did indeed hit a rock.”
Quincy doubts that he had strayed off-piste due to poor markings on the slopes. “The piste was very well marked so that every skier can tell where the slope actually ends,” he said. “It is very well marked where the slope ends to prevent skier going into a dangerous zone.”
He added: “Every winter season we have about 50 accidents of this nature, and we always use the same methods and we give the same attention to detail to everything we do.”
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic