A French firefighter who was among the first at the scene of Princess Diana’s fatal car crash on 31 August 1997 has spoken out for the first time on what the royal said.
“She spoke in English and said, ‘Oh my God, what’s happened?’” Sergeant Xavier Gourmelon told the UK’s Daily Mail. “I could understand that, so I tried to calm her. I held her hand.”
Gourmelon, who gave statements to police but has never spoken to the press before, added that the 36-year-old was still “moving and talking”.
The crash, which happened at high speed in a Paris tunnel while the black Mercedes was being chased by paparazzi, killed driver Henri Paul as well as Diana’s boyfriend, Egyptian tycoon Dodi Fayed.
Their bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones, who was seriously injured, survived.
Diana, Gourmelon says, seemed
physically okay apart from an injured shoulder.
He says he had no idea he was helping a British royal and only found out later from a police captain at the scene.
“He tells me who she is and then, yes, I recognise her, but in the moment I didn’t,” he says.
That was also true for the off-duty doctor Frederic Mailliez, who came across the crash scene while driving home from a party.
He saw “two [victims] who were already apparently dead” and two others – Diana and Trevor – who “were severely injured but still alive.”
He first helped Diana, who was “sitting on the floor in the back” of the Mercedes.
“I discovered then she was a most beautiful woman, and she didn’t have any injuries to her face. She wasn’t bleeding but she was almost unconscious and was having difficulty breathing.”
“So I began to speak English to her, saying that I was a doctor and that the ambulance was on its way and everything is going to be all right.”
The princess was taken to Pitié Salpêtrière hospital where doctors attempted to clamp a ruptured blood vessel next to her heart. They were unable to save her.
On 1 July her sons, Prince William (39) and Prince Harry (36), will come together for a public unveiling of a new statue of their mother at Kensington Palace to commemorate what would’ve been her 60th birthday.
SOURCES: pagesix.com, theguardian.com, dailymail.co.uk