UK & World News
Schumacher Ski Accident Off 'Well-Marked' Slope
Prosecutors investigating Michael Schumacher's ski accident said examination of his helmet camera showed he had left a properly marked out trail at the time of his fall.
Albertville prosecutor Patrick Quincy said the two-minute film from the helmet camera was very clear and showed the former Formula 1 driver lost his balance in the French resort of Meribel and struck his head on a rock.
The fall left him in a critical condition and he has been in a medically induced coma since December 29.
Investigators said they had established the signage on the slopes was in accordance with regulations, but the area where Schumacher was hurt was "virgin territory" so was not marked and could be dangerous.
"There are French standards setting rules on safety, signalling, demarcation ... The checks we have made show these standards had been respected," Mr Quincy said.
However, he said the investigation would take time to establish whether the area where he was skiing could be classed as an "official piste" in French law.
The video will now be examined by a police expert in mountaineering.
Problems with the rented skis Schumacher was wearing have also been ruled out.
Mr Quincy said Schumacher was "obviously a very good skier" but had not been able to slow himself down in the rocky area of the slope where he fell.
Describing the sequence of events after the former F1 driver went off-piste, he said: "At one point his skis touch a rock, he loses balance and falls forward and his head hits a rock which is 3.5 metres below.
"The rock he hit is eight metres from the edge of the piste and Mr Schumacher on the ground, inanimate, is nine metres from the edge of the piste. That's the information we have with regard to the inquiry."
Early viewings of the helmet camera footage appear to confirm this sequence of events.
The inquiry has not yet been able to confirm reports that Schumacher - who was on a family holiday - was going to the aid of a relative when he fell or the speed at which he was travelling, Mr Quincy said.
Police chief Stephane Bozon said Schumacher's speed increased when he entered the steeper off-piste section and he had tried to slow down but had difficulty because of the nature of the slope.
Mr Quincy said investigators have also spoken to emergency services and doctors and visited the scene of the accident.
The Albertville prosecutor's office carries out around 50 investigations into serious skiing and climbing accidents every year, he added.
On Monday, a source said he had made a "slight improvement" but remained in a stable but critical condition.
There was initially speculation that Schumacher was travelling up to 100kph (60mph) when he crashed, after it was revealed his helmet had split on impact.
But subsequent reports suggested he was travelling at a "leisurely pace" of up to 20kph (12mph).
Schumacher, known affectionately as 'Schumi' by fans, is the most successful F1 driver in history, racking up a record 91 race wins.
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