Seven-times Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher was fighting for his life on Monday after suffering severe head injuries in a skiing accident in the French Alps resort of Meribel, doctors said. “We can say that his condition is life-threatening,” Jean-Francois Payen, head anaesthetician at the CHU hospital in the eastern French city of Grenoble, said.
“For the moment we cannot say what Michael Schumacher’s future is,” he added. “We are working round the clock — we are trying to win time.”
The retired motor racing great, 44, slammed his head on a rock while skiing off-piste on Sunday morning in the French Alpine resort where he has a vacation home.
“His helmet did of course protect him at least partly. Someone who had suffered a similar accident without a helmet would not have made it here (to the hospital),” Payen said. Schumacher was initially conscious as he was transported to a local hospital in Moutiers and then to Grenoble. However, his condition deteriorated sharply afterwards.
Neurosurgeon Stephan Chabardes said an emergency brain scan carried out on Schumacher had revealed internal bleeding and injuries including contusions and lesions. He said they had operated to treat the internal bleeding.
Doctors said he had been placed in an artificial coma but, contrary to an earlier French media report, said they had not carried out a second operation during the night and were not planning any further interventions at this stage.
Leading names in motor racing reacted with shock on Twitter. “If anyone can pull through, it’s him,” said Britain’s triple Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti, who is still walking on crutches after a crash in October that ended his racing career.