A German skier has told the weekly news magazine Spiegel that he inadvertently caught Michael Schumacher's crash in the French Alps on his smartphone. Schumacher remains in a coma a week after his fall.
A German citizen who was skiing in France last weekend, identified only as a 35-year-old from the western city of Essen in this week's edition of Spiegel, has told the magazine that he accidentally caught Michael Schumacher's life-threatening ski crash on his smartphone. He was trying to film his wife on the slopes and captured Schumacher's accident in the background.
French state prosecutors are also seeking to obtain a copy of the footage, according to the same Spiegel report.
The video has not been published on Spiegel and the man, who works as a flight attendant said he intended to hand the footage over to investigators in France trying to piece together the details of the crash. According to the witness, Schumacher was "moving at a leisurely pace" when he fell, at an estimated speed of "20 kilometers (12.4 miles) per hour, at most."
This account would support Schumacher's manager Sabine Kehm, who earlier in the week rejected reports that Schumacher was traveling at high speed at the time of his crash.
The 45-year-old German, Formula One's most successful driver ever and a keen skier, has spent the last week in an artificially-induced coma at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire clinic in Grenoble; in a condition described by Kehm as critical but stable.
"Michael's condition remains critical, but also stable. We explicitly stress that any information on his health that does not hail either from the doctors involved or from [Schumacher's] management team is not valid and is pure speculation," Kehm said on Saturday, apparently in response to media reports of a marked improvement in the German's condition.
Investigators in Albertville, near the alpine resort of Meribel where Schumacher was skiing, expressed an interest in seeing the footage on Sunday. Public prosecutor Patrick Quincy on Sunday said his office and the police were planning a press conference on Schumacher's incident, saying they would set a midweek appointment "within the next 24 hours." The French team already has access to footage captured by the helmet camera Schumacher was wearing when he fell last Sunday.
Hakkinen asks old rival to take his time
Finnish two-time Formula One world champion Mika Hakkinen, arguably Schumacher's greatest contemporary rival, on Sunday published an open letter in the mass-circulation Bild paper, wishing his old friend well.
Hakkinen alluded to his own life-threatening crash early in his Formula One career, at qualifying for the 1995 Australian Grand Prix in Adelaide, which left him in a coma with severe head injuries for 10 days. Hakkinen ultimately returned to the cockpit and beat Schumi to the 1998 and '99 drivers' championships. The former McLaren driver said he hoped that "with the help of family and friends and the professional assistance of the doctors," Schumacher could make a similar recovery.
"But please do me just one favor: for once, do not try to beat the clock here. You do not need to set the fastest lap in this race. You must allow yourself all the time you need. Take it easy, Mika," Hakkinen concluded.
In an interview with Bild, Hakkinen also discussed his own experiences recovering from his major head trauma. He said enduring effects of his 1995 accident, such as a partially paralyzed half of his face and poor hearing in his right ear, were among the reasons why he cut his career comparatively short, retiring from Formula One in 2001, aged 33.
msh/pfd (AFP, dpa, SID)