F1 Winter Break
Could a bystander’s smartphone video provide clue to Schumacher’s accident?
Posted By: James Allen  |  05 Jan 2014   |  8:41 am GMT  |  78 comments

It is exactly a week since Michael Schumacher fell and hit his head in a skiing accident in France; the German remains in a “stable but critical” condition, according to his manager, Sabine Kehm.

The FIA President Jean Todt, who cut short a New Year holiday in Bali to fly to Schumacher’s side, has returned to Paris after five days spent with his former protege and his family in Grenoble’s CHU hospital.

Kehm has angrily refuted claims by former F1 driver Philippe Streiff that Schumacher’s life is “no longer in danger” – a notice he claims to have received from the senior medic attending to Schumacher, Professor Gerard Saillant, a very close friend of Todt’s.

Taking full control of the news agenda, Kehm has insisted that the only credible reports on his condition will come from the family and medics attending the German and only then when there is something new to say.

But the fact that Todt feels he can leave Schumacher’s side at this point, could be taken in a positive light, as far as his friend’s condition is concerned.

Meanwhile there appears to have been a development in understanding what caused Schumacher’s accident, although caution is always required in such situations.

According to Der Spiegel in Germany, a 35 year old German flight attendant was filming his girlfriend skiing on the piste in Meribel and Schumacher’s accident is captured in the background.

This version of events has Schumacher travelling at no more than 20km/h and veering into the off-piste area between a blue run and a red run, which appears not to be well marked. This would appear to support Kehm’s assertion last week that the seven times F1 champion was not going quickly when he crashed.

The German has handed his video to the authorities investigating the incident. The Schumacher family has also handed over a Go Pro camera, which was mounted on Schumacher’s helmet, although there is no indication at this point of whether he had it switched on at the time.

While all the family’s focus is on Schumacher’s condition, clearly they have an eye on the aftermath and central to that will be to assess whether there was any negligence on the part of the resort in not clearly delineating the piste from the off-piste area, particularly with the presence of rocks in the off piste zone.

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Oh I think Philippe Streiff could have unintentionally let the cat of the bag by stating Schumi's condition is no longer critical for I don't see why he would lie about such a sensitive issue.

Maybe it's a German way of operation in that they do not want to jump to conclusions for likewise we have seen Vettel (and Schumi too) in F1 that despite a clear lead in the championship they both didn't want to talk about the inevitable and would keep saying, ''it's a long way to go''.

Now with the new evidence presented by the video cameras, it seems a certain resort is in serious trouble and they're about to get dragged to court.

As always thinking about Schumi during this difficult time and praying he gets to be with the family really soon.


I'd really be surprised and dismayed if a resort is held responsible in any way for rocks between pistes. I've snowboarded in Meribel and the three valleys several times - including messing around between and around pistes (particularly if the snow is deep). Safety is always a priority for the people that are responsible but this is natural terrain and the pistes are very well kept.

This was obviously a completely freak tragic accident and I hope Schumi makes a full recovery to further underline his legendary status!


Avoid speculative nonsense and stick to what you’re good at – ‘statistics’

unF1nnished business



Philippe Streiff could jolly well have misinterpreted the word "stable" as "out of danger" and even if I seconds your overall assumption that a lot of Germans tend to keep a low profile and be rather pessimistic about a possible good outcome, the doctors are not Germans, nor are the teams RedBull or Ferrari and their representatives.


To some this might seem crazy enough, but don't forget that MS is a celebrity. I strongly believe that his situation is grave, but let's not forget that in those scenarios, the actual situation in most cases is artificially manipulated to be kept in the news. I won't state the reasons here, but if you are smart you should know why!

What I think is happening now compared to the ordinary "you" being in the same scenario is that if you are getting well, they will take you out of the coma to avoid extra costs (where I live a night on the hospital based on this case is about 1800 euro's), while in his scenario is kept in this stage to minimize the risk as much as possible. Costs are not an issue there.

But yet, there seems to be some developing in the backgrounds. I've seen pictures of Ralf getting in a good mood out of the hospital. Corrina as well on this saturday arrived with an big smile on her face. As James stated above, JT leaves, yet a friend unintentionally spills out some inside info.

Probably this was intended as well, you never know, maybe to create speculations. If Kehm would have said it...well case closed and move on.

My predictions is that by the end of the week some clear info will come out.

As for the video/resort, no, no one is in trouble. If there was something else going on, it would have had major explosions. He simply went where he shouldn't have been, that's it. It is normal for the police to investigate the case, but this has nothing to do with the resort.

Rinda Lynn Ferguson

It has more to do with the legal right of medical privacy that the family has more than anything. All final legal decisions of what information is released is the family's right and no one else's. What they want us to know is all we get to know.


it's not a WDC we are talking about here or the german way of doing things. It's the human life and even though Michael is stable and things are improving, nothing guarantees that something drastic doesn't happen very quickly that leads to the worsening of his condition.

So, for me still no news is best news, until positive news arrive.


I hope you are right about the German way of operation. However, out of danger is one thing, recovering completely is another.

Let's all continue sending positive energy to Michael and his family.


How are the police involved in this? Has the whole world turned into a police state, where the police involve themselves in everything? A guy tripped and fell, maybe there weren't enough markings but it's not like someone laid a trip wire under the snow. Seems like a civil case at best, not something for the police to jump on. IMO.


French BFM TV reported a claim by Corinna Schumacher.


When a world personality worth millions of dollars "falls" and almost gets killed, the police HAS to investigate to rule out any wrong doing. Thats logic, man...


Why should the amount of money you are worth have anything to do with finding out if a wrong doing has been committed against you.!!!


Nothing to do with finding out, But it has everything to do with the amount of people trying to do harm because of the money


There are safety issues at stake for the ski resort and Schumacher in order to establish if this accident could have been avoided.


Because is a publicó figure, the bouchers come out to get some cree publicity. Nothing to be socked about. Just normal operación to certain people.


That is what I thought must be a big part of it, but others have made valid points also, and thanks for that. Still, when organizations of armed men investigate and decide everything of any significance, I call that a police state.


if markers that indicate ‘danger keep away’ were missing and a member of your family is killed because of it, you’d be happy if the guilty party just said ‘oops sorry’ and wouldn’t get the police involved. stupid.


Not quite my friend. The snow resorts earn a lot of money and are required to follow very strict rules. They need to put markings all over the place (same way as road markings) to avoid stupid accidents.

When you're down there it's all white and you get confused all the time due to that and to the sun (sun glasses are a must-have).

You need the markings to know if you're heading in the right direction.

Not saying that the resort failed or anything, but if by any chance someone has an accident because the place is not properly marked, the resort has to be responsible and imho it should always be investigated by authorities. Unfortunately that is not always the case.

Bear in mind that I am speaking generally and not in this particular case.


One word: Insurances.


One other word: Lawyers


@Mike84 - whenever there's a person injured, there's a police case filed.

Let alone if someone has been dangerously negligible to his job of not securing a sporting place. It would be the same to remove the fences on football stadium and let the rivals' fans to 'meet'.

Yes, it is a big deal. It would have had the same police involvement even if the person wasn't that famous. It was just going to be less visible to the rest of the world.


I think in most countries the police have statutory obligations to investigate incidents leading to serious injury, but are not obliged to prosecute - that would depend on the outcome.

I take your broader point (as I see it) - that people, media, society, seem to want to find someone to blame for accidents, floods, you name it.

Regarding Streiff's remarks, I imagine he was told something like Schuey wasn't in immediate danger and (incorrectly) extrapolated that he was in none. Probably he heard what he wanted to hear, which is understandable, albeit a tad clumsy in that he certainly would not have wanted to attract the ire of Michael's family of loyal friends and management. I bet the poor chap feels quite devastated at the ensuing backlash. The media - and we - are hungry for any crumbs and seized upon this. Lets give him a break.

Like most F1 fans, Michael's condition is never far from my mind. Here's hoping he pulls through and is restored to us in full health.


Someone has been seriously hurt and therefore the police need to investigate the circumstances. Unlike you and I they can't jump to the conclusion that it's an accident without investigating it properly. I have no doubt they will conclude it was but without doing the due diligence nobody knows for sure. It's a process they need to follow to rule out a deliberate act, no matter how unlikely that is. To do otherwise means they are assuming it wasn't and the police don't work in that way.


+1, where there's pain there's a claim, mantra of the western world these days sadly. A guy was partaking in a fairly dangerous activity, fell, and hurt himself. The only focus just now should be on him getting better.


Mike, I am glad you have posed this question because last night such was my confusion I asked it on Twitter in the hope someone would answer it.

I have only been skiing once and I am sure I signed for two things, firstly I was insured and secondly I entered the slopes at my own risk. I can't help but think that it is only Michael's high profile which is creating such an investigation to take place. If someone could explain the reason for such an in depth inquiry I would be grateful.

I have read reports of skis being seized, cameras seized, witnesses being interviewed that contradict one another and wonder if this is normal when ordinary Joe Public gets injured.


Well you do realize that police must be involved, 1st it happened at the ski resort 2nd he's in a critical condition as a result of the fall. Investigation is more of if he doesnt make it and in that case their findings will be used as to what led to the accident second its to see who's negligent. Its nothing to do with police state its normal procedure in events such as this. Hopefuly Shumi will pull thru.


Irrespective of the person involved there will need to be some sort of investigation into the cause of the accident. The authorities will need to establish if the resort met its 'Duty of Care' obligations towards its guests, staff and anyone operating on site. Here in the UK the HSE would do something similar with the Police and a final report being given to the CPS for a final decision. In short, the authorities are following their national protocols.

Rinda Lynn Ferguson

Civil case in the U.S. maybe. But, elsewhere, I have read that in France all skiing accidents are investigated no matter who is involved. It is just a norm in their policing procedures for years.

BasCB (@Logist_BCB)

When an accident happens on the pistes, especially one that causes a life threatening situation like this, its fully normal for police to investigate what happened and why.

First of all, based on the investigation action can be taken to prevent similar accidents, and then there is the question of who pays for all the cost for recovery by helicopter (I know that in Austria the authorities do in fact bill you when you are recovered and its your own fault), and possibly for life long treatment etc.


High profile accidents always attract a high profile police investigations.


Police is normal in such a case. They have to exclude stuff like:

Material failures, like why was ski not loosening

Had he to evade or crashed with someone else

Did he do too much riscs


At firefighters we had to cut two 19 and 20 year old boys out of a car wreck two years ago. Happened at night no witnesses. One boy dead the other 3 weeks in coma, 2 month till he could speak.

While the press reported speeding on a rainy road, a collegue said right away that there probably was a second car inflicted. First interrogation at hospital then in fact proofed it: The driver said was suddenly blinded by light in a curve.

The second car is a hell of difference in insurance questions and surely something for police.

Stephanie Isherwood

I really don't care how or why the accident happened. It doesn't change the outcome. The only important thing is that Michael makes a full recovery. That it the only thing that concerns me now.


The investigations are part to prevent future accidents. So the why is always important.

It is a failure to wait till 10 accidents show a pattern and start with preventing only then.

I always hate our red white traffic signs which are camouflaged in our hilly and curvy forests roads: red leaves and snow patches in autumn. The most dangerous time and then the warning signs are hardly visible. Make them blue which is not a natural colour here.

Wonder howmany more people we have to cut out of car wracks before politicians start to react.


Knowing how or why is very important if it can help to stop someone else from having a similar kind of accident.


Where is Ralph in all this we here about his wife manager friends the cat and the dog but where is Ralph


Ralph has been to see him, or do you just read the words and not look at the pictures?


Ralph is by his brothers side with the rest of his family. Get well soon Michael


He has been visiting the hospital.


I agree with MikeB it was an accident, if it was an ordinary member of the public the police would do a quick investigation and say he himself was at fault and close the case.

Sounds like the family are after suing the resort for an accident caused by Schumacher himself, just be grateful he was wearing a helmet and is still alive.


the schumacher's not need to sue the resort for money, they have more than enough, it is normal practice for the french police to investigate such accidents, schumacher or not.


Streiff never said MSC's life was "no longer in danger". As a matter of fact he said quite the opposite. I find it rather unfair for a lot of medias not to check what he said before publishing such a biaised version of his statement.

He made this statement when leaving the hospital on Jan 3rd, he was already inside his car. It's a 50s statement broadcasted on BFM TV. For those of you reading french I made a FULL transcription of the statement on my website. I don't know if I can display my video on the Internet because it's BFM TV.

James if you have an ftp, or something, I can post it to you.



Thanks for that transcipt - having used translation software I can see nothing wrong with what Streiff said.

1) Some improvement as blood clots were both sides but now mostly on the left - this ties in with the doctors comments after the second operation.

2) Ongoing scans - to monitor.

This doesn't match the 'Anglo' press comments which seem to not make any sense from this evidence.


Thanks Brian...And above all Streiff starts saying "Saillant told me he doesn't know if he (MSC) is going to pull through, he doesn't know if he is going to recover"... then he continues being more "positive" I guess because he is a fighter and he can't stop himself thinking/hoping Michael is going to make it!

I'm surprised the family, and the press have not called Philippe first and have his statement from the horse's mouth. Putting an ex-driver in the fireline is unfair I think... And tells a lot about the sort of trust we can have in some of the press...


I am sure that the family and all his fans want the champ to get back to normal rather than go looking for clues on why this happened.


"Kehm has angrily refuted claims by former F1 driver Philippe Streiff that Schumacher’s life is “no longer in danger” "

Maybe he's right, but some thoughts you should keep to yourself.

Did it occur to Khem that maybe Schumi's family were told the same thing and were maybe starting to believe he'd be pull through, only for Khem to come out and say "hold onto your hats, it's not over yet..."

I'm not sure if Micheal will be the same after this, but for what it's worth I think now he'll be okay.


The condition in which he is in when he is brought out of the coma is the most important factor of all. Severe cognitive and physical impairment would be horrendous for anyone but I suspect for a man like Micheal Schumacher, it would utterly devastate him. Even after leaving F1, he is very physically active with horse riding, football, karting. If he can no longer pursue these enthusiasms, his outlook on life may become very grim.

I pray he wakes up and makes a full recovery.



I couldn't think of much worse than waking up knowing that you're somehow less than what you were before.

A full recovery is what we're all hoping for.


Mike84 there seems to have been a failure in his rented ski boot which didn't release his ski therefore causing near fatal injuries. Equipment should be constantly checked by the facility that's why police are involved. You may not have heard this in the press, you may now be able to find the reports. He didnt just trip a failure and poor equipment seems to have been the cause of the accident its seeiously alleged. #prayforschumacher


Id be surprised if he wore rented boots.


Well be as surprised as I was, because he was on 'hire ski equipment'! I believe the helmet was his though. With them spending Xmas, New Year & his birthday there anaully; no doubt there were are many things foe the family to take with them from home in Switzerland, ski equipment hire is probably also complimentary with them owning an expensive (and might I say the largest) cabin there, and with it being less for them to drag about, they probably usually use the resort at Merebel's own equipment whilst there for those reasons.


why would schui, such a wealthy guy, be "renting" a ski boot ???? despite having a place nearby and a known skier, he lacked his own equiptment ? he is ok with ill fit for a performance sport ? he is ok with the possibility of contracting foot fungus or other ? he is unbelievably cheap and miserly ?


Surely they clean them! Although it seems that they don't check them, lower down I've actually replied to this he WAS wearing rented equipment other than his own helmet with camera and his clothing, reasons I would believe so explained also. I thought your earlier comments more like asking, commenting as others and wondering- now I think you just want an argument and are making yourself look rather silly!


Thanks for that additional info, I did read that elsewhere also after my orig post. But TBH, even as a casual skier I always check my bindings after snapping in to make sure they're releasing at a safe level of force, it's easy by pressing a pole against the ski and trying to lift the boot. They can start releasing more easily from snow under the boot, but I've never known one to get tighter after being set. Most macho guys ski with bindings so tight they would usually fall before one comes off, so a deliberately tight setting seems much more likely than poor equipment, especially when the skier is rich.

But we'll see what they find.


if markers that indicate 'danger keep away' were missing and a member of your family is killed because of it, you'd be happy if the guilty party just said 'oops sorry' and wouldn't get the police involved. stupid.


ignore this it was meant to be a reply to mike84


The last paragraph makes a lot of sense to me as an American. We are a litigious society. But would a German family that has millions of Euros in the bank really be gearing up for a legal battle over the markings between ski paths?

I can see them trying to bring attention to this matter and the risks involved regardless of speed, but seeking monetary gain seems crass.

James, you wrote this and know the family well (I assume since you had access as you wrote Schumacher's biography), so is this really how they are?


It's not about the money it's the someone has had their life endangered dramatically for their errors and this needs to be corrected and punished, not only Schumi but others going down there may have been put in danger also, if errors are proved to have been made.


I don't know about the USA but many countries in Europe will have corporate civil cases to answer for health and safety failings. It isn't the Schumacher family trying to 'earn' off a tragedy it anything offensive a suggestion as that. The state can fine the company a vast sum and if there was negligence then I'm sure the Schumacher family would want action taken. Lots of rich and famous people use but give the money to charity - often it's about assigning blame rather than some scheme to get richer. I wouldn't be so quick to assign unpleasant motives to a worried family.


agree with Mike84- why the police and a presumption of something criminal? Skiing, like F1, is inherently risky, and from the pics and reports it seems that it was pretty obvious that area was off-piste and studded with rocks. Here in the U.S., many states have "assumption of risk" laws concerning ski areas. I'd be interested James to know what the law is in general in Europe, especially as this is reminiscent of Senna's death and the subsequent prosecutions his team's personnel.


I used to dislike or even hate him in the past, but now I sincerely wish him a speedy full recovery.

Win this fight Michael!!

Valentino from montreal

If accurate and true about that person filming the accident , he was smart enough not to upload that video on social media like YouTube or something , he would have been sued into the Stone Age by the Schumacher family ...


If they had uploaded knowingly; they'd have been in trouble, if by mistake (as it's to be believed the accident is blurred in the background) the police would have had it removed super fast.


Actually, I would not be so sure a suit would stick.

Public place, by the sound of it with Schumi skiing into the shot of something and someone else being filmed. You really have no expectation of privacy under those circumstances.

But true, the video maker did the tasteful and correct thing. Rare now a days.


Smart or not, if it was me it wouldn't have crossed my mind. Those that are doing stuff like that are going purely for publicity, unless of course some major nature accident happens.

Fortunately, some people are human enough to make a difference in respecting an unfortunate accident and have their name in the newspaper for 1 week.

That guy whoever it is, has earned my respect!!


On what grounds would they have a right to sue? They were all outdoors during the day, there's no privacy rights been infringed.


I'm not sure what the reasons are for the authorities to be investigating this accident, maybe it's standard practice in France when someone is seriously injured. Everyone knows that if you ski off-piste then you do so at your own risk. I can't imagine the family are looking to blame anybody.


I cannot even imagine how you guys can think. Precautions.

Fortunately he is alive. I really hope he gets back on his feet. Remember police always starts with the bad things and no matter what has happened there they have to investigate the case.

On the contrary, imagine some of your family member having to deal with something like this, wouldn't you wanted investigated? What if he dies? Shouldn't there be any investigation related to the cause that threatens someone's life?

I am really starting to think that most people are getting more and more spoiled about (politely saying, but just sayin') some spying cases and try to pull everything into that category.

Going off-piste, crossing the street on the "zebra", or simply driving a car, it IS done at your own risk. Consequences should be investigated. Period.

Alan from Toronto

The way Sabine controls the release of updates to media reminds me of the way they handled Michael's leg-breaking accident back in 1999.


Except that wasn't her back then!

It was Heine Buchinger, Michael's first press attaché


Schumi's life might no longer be in danger but I fear what a brain injury might have done to the man.

I hope everything improves and he returns to a comfortable retirement where he can enjoy the fruits of his stellar F1 career.


James can you find out if it's true that Schumi rented the equipment? The bindings may have failed to release when he hit the rock with the skis.


There were reports that police was angry that the ski were already back at the store where they were rented from when looking for them.

I think helmet and back protectors were Michael's property.

But many people rent ski either to try new models, or to get some fitting for a certain terrain, or slower ones when together with kids, ...

I had stomach pain when our second daughter started a ski trip with her youth club last week. But she is doing one pole / free heel skiing because of a meniscus damage at knee last year when playing soccer in a mixed team.


I think they need to do a proper news conference and release the info, if for no other reason than to stop things like this...


Nonetheless, the respected Sunday newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche cited hospital sources in claiming the most recent brain scan undergone by Schumacher had "very bad" results.


"He (Saillant) said it is a serious condition but his life is not in danger any more, thankfully," Streiff said.

He also provided new details of the German's injuries, including the apparent risk that the former Ferrari and Mercedes driver could be left "hemiplegic", or paralysed on one side of the body.

He also said the nature of the bleeding on the sides of Schumacher's brain endangers Schumacher's speech and motor skills, but Streiff's comments were dismissed by manager Sabine Kehm as "pure speculation".

Kehm insisted her boss remains in a "critical but stable" condition, and Streiff later told France's RMC that Schumacher is in fact in "a stable but serious condition without deterioration or improvement".


Brawn flying out to Grenoble the day after the terrible accident, Jean Todt spending days in the town keeping himself close to Schumacher and his family, Montezemolo,Domenicalli and the entire Scuderia Ferrari's multiple press releases, and endless tweets,Facebook and instagram messages proves one thing,those who won Michael's loyalty were never let down by the man.

I think it was James Allen's 'Quest for redemption' or Chris Hilton's 'Schumacher- the full story' where they mention about Schumacher's absolute commitment towards his close circle. And once he had the trust of his comrades, they could walk through a brickwall for him ! Guess there has always been more to the man than his 'teutonic winning machine' persona..


How refreshing that the bystander handed the footage to the police and not sell it to a website to generate millions of pounds of advertising hits out of Michael's misfortune.


I think what Streiff wanted to say was misinterpreted. He might have tried to say that he's going to survive the accident, not that he's gonna to fully recover from his brain injuries. The medical reports saying that he's in a critical and stable condition are the most accurate way to describe this situations. No one knows until he's move out of the induced coma/Hypothermia and allowed to wake-up. This is a long process that will require a lot of patience and time for him to recover totally or partially. I wish him the best of the recoveries.

In the meantime, fans should stay supportive and respect his family privacy on this matter; the reasons that lead to the accident are totally irrelevant for those who care for Schumi.

Schnell! schnell!

Lets not forget that streiff has himself experienced a life changing trauma. His view of "danger to life" may differ considerably from that of others.

One thing is for certain, 25 years of development in medical care is likely to make a major difference in the outcome.

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