Dutch prince 'still not out of danger'

2012-02-18 14:25

The Hague - Prince Johan Friso, son of Dutch Queen Beatrix has spent a "calm night" in an Austrian hospital, but was still not out of danger Saturday after being seriously injured in an avalanche while skiing.

Austrian prosecutors added they have launched a probe into Friday's accident in the western Austrian ski resort of Lech in which the 43-year-old prince was seriously injured.

"He is still not out of danger, but spent a calm and stable night," in the intensive care unit at Innsbruck University Hospital, the Dutch Royal House said in a statement, issued in The Hague.

Prince Friso was skiing off piste with an unnamed Austrian friend, according to varying Austrian media reports a 42-year-old hotel director, around noon on Friday when the accident happened near Lech where the Dutch royal family traditionally take their winter holidays.

Despite wearing a ski-helmet and an avalanche beeper, the prince nevertheless spent some 20 minutes under the snow before he was rescued and had to be resuscitated, Austrian news reports said. He was evacuated to Innsbruck by helicopter.

"The doctors who are treating him said there was no change in his situation," the statement added, but did not give details about his injuries. Doctors would only be able to make a prognosis "within a few days," it said Friday.

Queen Beatrix, 74, as well as the prince's wife Mabel Wisse Smit were joined on Friday night by other members of the Dutch royal family including Johan Friso's brothers, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander, his wife Maxima, and younger brother Prince Constantijn with his wife Princess Laurentien.

The Dutch royals regularly spend their ski holidays in the posh resort of Lech, in the westernmost province of Vorarlberg.

Meanwhile Austrian prosecutors announced they would investigate the accident.

Prosecutors, who already began gathering information on Friday, will examine among other things who or what set off the avalanche, but Austrian police added the probe was carried out in every accident of this kind.

At the time of the accident, the avalanche level in Lech - as in much of Austria - was at four, the second highest.

The accident dominated headlines in the Dutch media on Saturday.

"Friso's condition critical," wrote the left-leaning daily De Volkskrant, saying he was being kept in a coma in hospital.

"Friso is a very experienced skier and knows the area around Lech very well," the paper said, while columnist Bert Wagendorp in the same paper wrote: "I am not a supporter of the Royal Dutch House nor have any interest in avalanches."

"But yet I phoned people to ask if they heard what happened, proof that this type of news impacts on you. I bet he's going to beat the avalanche."

"Fear of Friso's fate" the Christian daily Trouw said, adding that Friso as "the Queen's favourite son, liked fast cars, golf, travel and diving. The type of man willing to take risks outside clearly marked pistes".

The prince is the second son of Queen Beatrix. After he married in 2004 without the government's permission, he was excluded from the royal family and is no longer seen as an heir to the throne, but he has kept the title Prince of Orange-Nassau.

Johan Friso has been chief financial director of Britain's Urenco group - dealing with nuclear fuel supply - since 2011, and previously worked with the investment bank Goldman Sachs.

He also holds a degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Delft and in economics from Erasmus University in Rotterdam, according to his biography on Urenco's website.

  • Putin the " - 2012-02-18 14:36

    Should have reported this thing in Beeld!!

      Hallo - 2012-02-19 12:14


  • Matthew Patrick - 2012-02-18 14:53

    Some News24 employee is going to delete this comment but it's a poorly written article. The punctuation and structure of the article need some work. With the overuse of commas in the wrong places it's like the article has a speech impediment.

      Franklin - 2012-02-18 16:19

      Mathew, you brain dead. It's what the article says, not the way it is written, you chop.

      Sam - 2012-02-18 21:23

      @Franklin: In fact, you are wrong. Journalists are supposed to be professional writers and the public has the right to expect a decent standard. But then again it's people who themselves lack language skills who mistakenly believe it's ok to cobble words together any old how. Like, for example, 'you brain dead' when what you probably meant was 'you are brain dead'. You chop.

      Anthony - 2012-02-18 21:52

      @Franklin & Sam Chop Chop

      Hallo - 2012-02-19 12:15

      The article was written by AFP you idiot.

  • Jacqui - 2012-02-19 09:49

    Good heavens, the white wash of Johan Friso has started. It was said that he didn't weear a helmet and caused the avalanche hmself. Now suddenly he was wearing a helmet and someone else caused the mishap. Typically Dutch . The House of Orange must be protected, no matter what.

      Peter - 2012-02-19 11:50

      The issue is not about wearing a helmet. He actually went ski-ing off piste, that is on ungroomed and unpatrolled ski runs, when at the time the avalanche danger level in the area was at a 4 out of a max 5. At the bottom cable and ski lift stations there were warning lights flashing, alerting skiers to the avalanche danger, which he obviously ignored. He actually set off the avalanche that did trap him for 20 minutes under the snow. He was found reasonably quickly, due to a tracking device that he wore in case of an avalanche. No matter what status he had in society, his stupidity and arrogance nearly cost him his life, set people on safer ski runs below him at risk, and also put the lives of the rescue workers at risk too.

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