Di’s Driver Was Drunk – Orlando Sentinel

29 Jun 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Di’s Driver Was Drunk – Orlando Sentinel
Mercedes S 280

A royal tragedy

Blood-alcohol Level Was 3 Times France’s Legal Limit

Car’s Speedometer Stuck At 121 Mph After Accident

September 2, 1997 | By Tom Hundley, Chicago Tribune

PARIS — Princess Diana’s limousine driver was drunk when he lost control of the Mercedes-Benz and slammed into a support and the wall of the Pont de l’Alma underpass, authorities said Monday.

The impact of the crash froze the speedometer at 121 mph.

Other sources involved in the investigation said Paul, who died in the crash along with Diana and her millionaire boyfriend, Dodi Fayed, had a blood-alcohol level of 1.75 milligrams of alcohol to 100 milliliters of blood – or about 0.23 by U.S. measurements – more than three times France’s legal level.

In one damning – but unconfirmed – report Monday, the French newspaper Le Monde said witnesses saw photographers pushing police and rescuers away as they snapped photos of Diana and Fayed after the crash.

And in today’s issues of London newspapers, there were reports that the driver had taunted photographers before departing from a hotel with Diana and Fayed, suggesting that they wouldn’t be able to keep up with the Mercedes.

The Times of London cited what it called unconfirmed reports that Paul had taunted the photographers by saying ”Catch me if you can,” before speeding away from the hotel.

In London, The Mirror today quoted Gilbert Collard, a French lawyer representing Christian Martinez, one of the seven arrested paparazzi, as saying: ”It seems there was a short discussion between the photographers, the driver and the bodyguard before the limousine left the Ritz.

”It was along the lines: ‘Don’t bother following; you won’t catch us anyway. ‘ ”

In France, a blood-alcohol level of 0.5 grams – the level after about two or three glasses of wine – is a misdemeanor. Anything higher than 0.8 grams is a serious criminal offense. An average adult male would record a 1.75 level after drinking an entire bottle of wine or six to 10 glasses of beer.

The stunning disclosure has shifted the focus of the official inquiry. Now police are trying to piece together the circumstances that put Diana’s life in the hands of a man who was apparently in no condition to drive.

Paul was a member of the security staff at the Ritz, the posh Paris hotel owned by billionaire Mohamed Al Fayed, the father of Diana’s companion.

Hours before the crash that would claim their lives, Diana and Dodi Fayed had dined in the hotel’s restaurant.

Dodi Fayed reportedly sent his regular chauffeur out the hotel’s main entrance as a decoy while the couple departed through a rear door and slipped into the Mercedes S-280.

Mercedes S 280

Bernard Dartevelle, a lawyer representing the Fayed family in Paris, said Paul had been off-duty and was called from home to take the place of the regular driver.

Le Monde reported Monday that Paul was trying to skirt around a slower-moving vehicle when his car crashed inside the Seine riverside tunnel.

Michael Cole, a spokesman for Mohamed Al Fayed, said Paul,a former French military officer, had worked for the Ritz for 11 years and had been an ”exemplary employee.”

An unnamed spokeswoman for the hotel told The Associated Press that Paul had received special security training at a Mercedes-Benz facility in Germany.

Veteran Parisian chauffeurs said that negotiating the tight, dipping underpass at Pont de l’Alma at any speed in excess of 60 to 65 mph would be very dangerous.

Cole said Monday night that the paparazzi who chased Diana’s car tried to drive off emergency service crews who arrived at the scene because they were interfering with picture-taking, and scuffles broke out between the two groups.

Investigators are eager to talk to Trevor Rees-Jones, the only survivor of Sunday’s crash.

Rees-Jones, a former Royal Marine who worked as a bodyguard for Dodi Fayed, was seated in the front passenger seat. He was reportedly the only person in the car wearing a seat belt.

Dr. Frederic Mailliez said he was driving in the opposite lane when the Mercedes sped toward him and crashed. He said he saw smoke, ran to the wreckage and back to his car, where he phoned for help and retrieved a medical kit. Mailliez, who specializes in trauma injuries, returned to the Mercedes and helped bodyguard Rees-Jones.

Then he said he turned to ”the woman in black,” whom he didn’t recognize. ”I freed her breathing and opened her windpipe,” said Mailliez, adding that 10 to 15 paparazzi were in the tunnel. ”She was moaning and gesticulating wildly, and those are signs of choking. I put an oxygen mask on her.” Emergency crews arrived and worked for more than an hour to free Diana. from the crushed car.

Mercedes S 280
Mercedes S 280

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