First doctor on scene re­counts fa­tal crash

Sun.Star Cebu - - WORLD -

French doctor Fred­eric Mailliez, the first physi­cian on the scene of Princess Diana’s fa­tal car ac­ci­dent in Paris 20 years ago, says he gave first aid to the vic­tims be­fore know­ing who he was treat­ing.

Mailliez was off-duty when he drove into the Alma road tun­nel on Aug. 31, 1997, a few sec­onds af­ter the high-speed crash.

He won­dered “why there were so many jour­nal­ists around the Mercedes as I was giv­ing first aid.” It was only when he turned on his tele­vi­sion the next morn­ing that he learned the an­swer, Mailliez re­counted Tues­day in an in­ter­view with The As­so­ci­ated Press.

Diana was pro­nounced dead a few hours af­ter the crash that oc­curred while she and her boyfriend, Dodi Fayed, were be­ing chauf­feured by an in­tox­i­cated driver and pur­sued by pho­tog­ra­phers. A body­guard was the car’s sole sur­vivor.

On that sum­mer night, Mailliez, an emer­gency doctor, was driv­ing along the Seine river and ap­proach­ing the tun­nel when he saw a smoky ac­ci­dent scene ahead. He stopped and went to in­ves­ti­gate.

When he opened a door of the crum­pled Mercedes, he saw four peo­ple, two of them in car­diac ar­rest. The other two, in­clud­ing Diana, were still alive.

“They were re­act­ing, but clearly had sig­nif­i­cant in­juries,” the doctor said. He im­me­di­ately called for emer­gency res­cue ser­vices and went to work without the med­i­cal equip­ment he would nor­mally use in a life-threat­en­ing sit­u­a­tion.

“I just had my bare hands,” he lamented.

For sev­eral long min­utes, Mailliez was the only doctor at the scene. His full at­ten­tion went to the emer­gency be­fore him and “at no point did I come to un­der­stand who these peo­ple were.”

For a long time af­ter, he won­dered if he should have done any­thing dif­fer­ently, whether he could have done any­thing that would have saved the 36-year-old princess’ life.

“I checked with my­self and I checked also with other doc­tors, pro­fes­sors of medicine, and ac­tu­ally I couldn’t have done any­thing bet­ter than what I did,” he said.

Mailliez un­der­stands why peo- ple were, and still are, at­tached to Diana.

“She was en­dear­ing. She was ap­par­ently start­ing a new life. She seemed happy. And then she died in a stupid, dumb ac­ci­dent. A princess can­not die in a stupid ac­ci­dent,” he said. “It’s un­fair. It’s not nor­mal. I think that’s one of the rea­sons why peo­ple re­mem­ber this ac­ci­dent as some­thing tragic and un­fair.”

The doctor says he doesn’t “be­lieve in destiny but it’s still touch­ing for me to think that I’m an emer­gency doctor, I speak English, and it hap­pened that I ar­rived 30 sec­onds af­ter the ac­ci­dent and I treated Princess Diana.”

“I was there dur­ing her last min­utes and maybe my words, when I spoke to her, were the last words she could hear.”

AP FOTO

TRIB­UTE. A tourist takes a smart­phone photo of trib­utes and mem­o­ra­bilia for the late Diana, Princess of Wales, dis­played ahead of her 20th death an­niver­sary out­side Kens­ing­ton Palace in Lon­don.

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