30/12/13 16:05 CET
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There was shock and sympathy in the French Alpine ski resort of Meribel where German former racing driver Michael Schumacher fell and banged his head on a rock.
He was wearing a helmet and, by all accounts, skiing well within his capabilities. The accident was widely seen as pure bad luck.
Holidaymakers enjoying the slopes gave their reactions and wished him well.
One man said: “It really makes you think seriously about buying a helmet. That such an accident could happen to a man like that. We’re all sad about it.”
Another added: “You can wear a helmet, and even airbags to protect you against avalanches, or transmitters to locate you under the snow, you can take all kinds of precautions, but there’s not such thing as zero risk!”
A third skier said he saw no need to leave the official skiing routes: “It seems he’s hovering between life and death. You have to be careful. I always wear my helmet and I don’t ski off-piste. There are plenty of marked trails here.”
The resort’s director, Olivier Simonin, said where Schumacher was skiing – though not an official trail – was not a particularly difficult area, but there could have been rocks hidden by an earlier snow fall.
Philippe Quincy, the local public prosecutor, told Reuters an inquiry had been launched on Sunday to identify the causes of the accident. Initial findings indicated the blow was so hard that Schumacher’s helmet had shattered.
“We know that the accident took place in an off-piste zone where rocks were partly or totally hidden by snow,” Quincy said, adding that Schumacher had likely been thrown off balance by one of them.
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