GRENOBLE (AFP) – Michael Schumacher’s wife pleaded Tuesday with journalists to leave her family and doctors alone, in her first comments since a ski accident in the French Alps left her famous husband in a coma.
Scores of reporters, television crews and photographers have besieged the hospital in the French Alpine city of Grenoble where the Formula One legend is in stable but critical condition following the December 29 accident.
Last week, Schumacher’s manager Sabine Kehm deplored the tactics used by some journalists to try and catch a glimpse of the seven-time world champion in his room, reporting that one had dressed up as a priest to try and get in.
“Please support our shared fight with Michael. It is important to me that you take the pressure off the doctors and the hospital so they can do their work,” Corinna Schumacher said in a statement addressed “to the media”.
“Please have faith in their statements and leave the hospital. Please also leave our family in peace,” she said.
News that Schumacher was in a medically-induced coma after falling and slamming his head on a rock while skiing sent shockwaves round the sporting world, and journalists are anxiously waiting for any update on his condition.
Following a flurry of speculation about his health, doctors looking after the 45-year-old said they would give no details of the treatment he is receiving in order to protect his right to privacy.
The German Federation of Journalists on Tuesday also echoed Corinna Schumacher’s plea, urging reporters to use restraint while covering the German former racer’s plight.
The focus has diverted onto the circumstances of Schumacher’s fall on an off-piste section in between two slopes at the Meribel resort, which French investigators are probing to try and determine responsibility for the accident.
They are looking at the speed at which he was going at the time of the accident and are due to brief the press on their findings so far on Wednesday morning.
Schumacher was wearing a camera strapped to his helmet when he fell, and a source close to the probe said Tuesday that footage from the device could be used.
It had been unclear until now whether the camera was working at the time of the accident, or whether the footage would be clear enough to use, and it could be vital in helping investigators determine the speed.
“It’s an important document”, said the source, who wished to remain anonymous.
Prosecutors are also looking at whether the limits of the ski runs next to the accident site were correctly marked and whether the rock in question was lying close enough to the piste to require some kind of protection or signage.
They are also examining whether the safety releases on Schumacher’s skis operated properly.
A German flight steward had also told Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine that he had accidentally filmed Schumacher at the time of the accident and that the racing champion had been going at a maximum speed of about 20 kilometres (12 miles) per hour.
He had told the magazine he would hand over the footage to French police, which he has not done so far, the source said.
Schumacher dominated Formula One before retiring in 2012, winning more titles than any other driver and enjoying 91 Grand Prix victories between 1994 and 2004.