On January 8, 2014, French police officials held a press conference detailing some of the findings of their ongoing investigation of Formula 1’s Michael Schumacher’s injuries.
Michael Schumacher, a seven-time Formula-1 champion was skiing on December 29, 2013 in the area of Meribel, France when he fell, striking his head against a rock. Schumacher was taken to a hospital in Grenoble, France, and has been kept in a medically-induced coma while a team of doctors attempt to repair the damage from the severe head injury. Schumacher is still listed in critical condition and has already had one surgery on his brain.
French officials stated that speed did not seem to be an issue and that it appeared that Schumacher was going at a normal speed for a good skier. Officials also stated that Schumacher’s equipment was in good condition, and that the route was clearly marked. Schumacher was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.
The International Ski Federation (FIS) has recommended the use of helmets while skiing since 2006, but the usage is voluntary.
Enthusiasts insist that skiing and snowboarding are safe activities. According to figures released by National Areas Association an average of 41 people die annually due to skiing and snowboarding accidents. Accident rates for vehicles accidents, bicycling and other sports are higher, but many celebrity deaths have happened, bringing attention to the sport. Sonny Bono and Michael Kennedy both died after accidents on the slopes in 1998 and 1997.
Michael Schumacher’s native Germany also has suffered another injury due to skiing this season. Chancellor Angela Merkel fractured her pelvis during a fall over the Christmas holiday in Switzerland and is confined to bed to allow proper healing.
Schumacher was skiing “off-piste” in area between two designated trails on the mountain. Schumacher had been using a helmet-mounted camera and the camera will be analyzed by experts to determine his exact location and speed at the time of the accident.
French officials stated that the investigation was routine and that they investigate around 50 skiing accidents annually.
Schumacher’s coma has deeply affected his fans, who come to the hospital dressed in the Ferrari colors to show support. For most of his racing career Schumacher raced Ferrari vehicles. The fans have also left Ferrari flags, as well as started a facebook page dedicated to showing support for the racer.
According to a CNN report released January 6, 2014, an unnamed journalist attempted to gain entry into Schumacher’s hospital room. The reporter posed as a member of the clergy but was not allowed in.
Schumacher’s wife, Corrin called on reporters to leave the hospital and to also leave the medical staff alone so they could concentrate on their efforts to assist Schumacher. She also pleaded for them to leave the family in peace.
Schumacher started his racing career in 1994 and first retired in 2006 after winning seven titles. Schumacher proved to be an able driver but also found himself in controversy due to intentionally crashing into other racers, once in 1994 and then again in 1997.
Schumacher retired in 2006, but returned to race for Mercedes in 2010 and retired for the last time in 2012. Schumacher won 306 races during his career. Schumacher is also known for many charitable contributions, including donating 10 million dollars in 2005 to tsunami victims.