GRENOBLE, France 8th January 2014 – Michael Schumacher’s exasperated wife pleaded Tuesday with journalists to leave her family and doctors alone, as her world famous husband remains in a coma after a ski accident in the French Alps.
Scores of reporters, television crews and photographers have descended on the hospital in the French city of Grenoble where the Formula One legend is in stable but critical condition following his December 29 accident.
Last week, Schumacher’s manager Sabine Kehm deplored tactics used by some journalists to try and catch a glimpse of the seven-time world champion in his room, reporting that one had even 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 coma after falling and slamming his head on a rock while skiing sent shockwaves round the sporting world, with journalists waiting anxiously to relay 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 urged reporters to use restraint while covering the German former racer’s plight.
Federation chairman Michael Konken noted that the German journalists’ code of conduct requires “respect for the suffering of victims and the feelings of loved ones”.
“That also applies when the victim is famous,” he said.
The focus has now diverted to 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 early Wednesday are to brief the media on their findings so far.
Schumacher was wearing a camera strapped to his ski helmet when he fell, and a source close to the probe said Tuesday that footage from the device could be intact and valuable to the inquiry.
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. 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 inadvertently 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.