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First full account of Schumacher ski accident issued

'Not speeding recklessly, not helping little girl'

08 January, 15:18
First full account of Schumacher ski accident issued (By Christopher Livesay) (ANSA) - Paris, January 8 - Michael Schumacher entered his 10th day in a drug-induced coma Wednesday as investigators gave their first full account of the Formula One great's life-threatening ski accident in the French Alps, noting he was not speeding recklessly, nor was he in the process of helping a little girl when he fell and cracked his head on a rock. "He deliberately chose to go into that zone," said Patrick Quincy from the Albertville prosecutor's office in France, which is investigating the accident on the Meribel slopes outside the driver's home there.

Prosecutors spoke after reviewing the helmet camera of the seven-time world champion, five of whose victories were with Ferrari. "There are only two minutes of video, and you don't see Schumacher helping anyone," added Quincy. According to earlier reports the legendary Ferrari driver was aiding the young daughter of a friend when he fell December 29 while skiing with his son and a group of friends. Doctors say he is in critical yet stable condition, and that he would have died had he not been wearing a helmet. Successive surgeries have been performed to reduce swelling of the brain and remove blood clots. On his 45th birthday last Friday, large groups of fans camped outside his hospital room in Grenoble, "overwhelming" his family with the outpouring of support, they said in a statement.

The reception has been less warm for the press, after one journalist went so far as to disguise himself as a priest in an attempt to get close to the racing icon. "Please support us in our common fight with Michael," said his wife Corinna Schumacher in her bid for the media to leave the hospital area.

"It is important to me that you leave the doctors and the hospital so that they can work in peace.

"I ask you to trust their statements and leave the clinic.

Please leave our family in peace". Meanwhile more details of the accident surfaced. Albertville investigators said Schumacher was skiing at an elevation of 2,700 metres, on a small off-piste area between a red and blue course. "Schumacher is obviously a very good skiier," Quincy said. "At one point his skis in fact touch a rock, he loses balance, and he falls forward and his head hits a rock which is 3.5 meters below". Schumacher was found "inanimate" nine meters from the piste, one meter farther than the rock he struck, said Quincy. His precise speed has yet to be determined, but investigators stressed velocity is not an important factor in their probe. Quincy also struck down concerns that signage in the area was inadequate and somehow led to the fall. "It was in accordance with regulations," he said, adding that Schumacher's skis and equipment did not appear to be faulty and cause his accident.