Witness says Schumacher was not travelling very fast
German flight attendant captured the skiing accident while filming his girlfriend on his phone
A new witness account of Michael Schumacher’s skiing accident in the French Alps last Sunday has emerged, confirming suggestions that the former Formula One champion was not travelling very fast when the crash took place.
A skier told the news magazine Der Spiegel that Schumacher had been going “at a leisurely pace A 20km/h max, not more”. The witness, a 35-year-old flight attendant from Essen in Germany, said he had stopped to film his girlfriend on his smartphone and accidentally captured Schumacher a few hundred metres away in the background straying into an off-piste area and losing his balance.
The man said he planned to hand the evidence to the Albertville prosecutor’s office in France, which is investigating the accident on the Meribel slopes last Sunday. Patrick Quincy, the Albertville prosecutor, told the Associated Press yesterday that French investigators were taking steps to obtain a copy of the video. Investigators are said to be in possession of a camera that was fixed to Schumacher’s helmet. It is unclear if the device was switched on at the time of the accident, and whether or not it was damaged by the impact.
A video purporting to show amateur footage of the accident has been circulating on social media, but the clip – titled “Video: Moment de l’accident de Michael Schumacher! (EXCLUSIF)” – contains a computer virus. When news of the accident first emerged last week, some newspapers reported that Schumacher had been travelling at up to 60mph.
Schumacher’s manager, Sabine Kehm, has vehemently rejected this version of events, claiming that Schumacher entered deep snow at relatively low speed shortly after stopping to help up a friend’s daughter who had fallen on the tracks.
She also denied suggestions that the family was reluctant to hand over the helmet camera. “It’s false. Only Michael’s health matters,” Kehm was quoted as saying in the French papers.
The French prosecutor’s office and the police say they will give more information about their inquiry into the accident in the next few days. “We will be holding a press conference on the progress of the investigation this week,”
Patrick Quincy, the public prosecutor at Albertville said. “In the meantime we ask for the circulation of false information about what I may or may not have said, or about elements of the inquiry to stop.”
The former Formula One champion Mika Hakkinen has written a letter to Schumacher wishing his former rival a full recovery. The Finn, who once suffered a life-threatening head injury during a training session, advises Schumacher to take his time to recover. “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,” he said, signing off: “Take it easy, Mika.”