In a press conference in Albertville on Wednesday, Chief Prosecutor Patrick Quincy said the investigation was “progressing well” and had spoken to various witnesses to the accident as well as doctors treating the seven-times World Champion, who remains in an induced coma in Grenoble Hospital ten days on from the incident.
M. Quincy also said they have viewed film from the camera Schumacher was wearing on his helmet at the time of the accident, but added that they needed more time to study it frame-by-frame.
“We proceeded to examine the film that was made, that particular film was extremely legible and gives us a great deal of information and at least confirms the information that we already had,” he said.
“So we will take advantage of this film in order to be able to once again recreate the situation. We will know what exactly was the path that Mr Schumacher followed.”
A technician and gendarme – who is also a ski guide – will now view the film to further establish what happened.
Already known is that Schumacher was skiing at an altitude of 2,700m in the French resort of Meribel at about 11am on December 29th when he went off-piste between two ski runs and lost control after hitting a rock.
According to investigators, Schumacher only went between 3-6m off-piste when he hit the rock. The second rock, which caused the serious head injuries which have left the seven-times World Champion critically ill in a Grenoble hospital, was about 8m off-piste.
“Mr Schumacher is in fact a very good skier, so he was going on the left-hand side in an area above what limits the main piste,” Chief Gendarme Stephane Bozon explained.
“He was on terrain that was really more sloped and because of that slope there was certain speed. He tried to reduce the speed, but there were a few curves, so a parallel trace remained to the direction he was going in.
“We can’t really estimate the speed in km/h, we can’t really work out a figure, but he was a good skier on terrain that was slightly curved, but one couldn’t in fact as it was off-piste, it made it difficult to slow down. He needed to remain in the line of the slope.”
Relevant to any prosecution is the question of whether the skis runs were properly marked. However, police are denying that was the case and say they conform to French norms.
“As you are well aware, there are some French norms or standards that regard signalling, warning information and so on and what we were able to note was that those standards had been respected,” M. Quincy said.
They have also ruled out Schumacher’s skis being at fault.
“I would say the skis are not the reason for the accident,” Bozon said. “The fixings were in a good state; but there was a scratch on the rocky surface. So the skis had been damaged because they came in contact with the rocky surface.”
German paper Der Spiegel says it has film of the accident in addition to that taken from the camera on Schumacher’s helmet. However, prosecutors expressed “reservations” and “feel quite dubious” about its veracity.
A sobering statistic also revealed by M. Quincy is that his department investigates as many as 50 such incidents each winter.