Doctor who first found Princess Diana struggling to breathe after crash feels ‘responsible’ for her death

Doctor who first found Princess Diana struggling to breathe after crash feels ‘responsible’ for her death
Diana, the Princess of Wales at Aintree Racecourse for the Grand National, April 3, 1982 (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

PARIS, FRANCE: The French medic who first found Princess Diana in critical condition after her fatal car crash on August 31, 1997, has claimed that it’s impossible to find his name not linked to the horrific night. Frederic Mailliez also said that he finds himself “a little bit responsible for her” death.

Mailliez said, “I realise my name will always be attached to this tragic night. I feel a little bit responsible for her last moments.” while speaking with the Associated Press. The doctor was returning home from a party when he saw the severely damaged Mercedes in the Alma Tunnel. He said that the car was almost fractured into two parts when he discovered a “very beautiful woman” inside but failed to understand that she was the royal princess.

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Mailliez went on to explain, “I walked toward the wreckage. I opened the door, and I looked inside. Four people, two of them were apparently dead, no reaction, no breathing, and the two others, on the right side, were living but in severe condition. The front passenger was screaming, he was breathing. He could wait a few minutes. And the female passenger, the young lady, was on her knees on the floor of the Mercedes, she had her head down. She had difficulty to breathe. She needed quick assistance.”

The man noted that soon he went back to his car to inform emergency services and get a respiratory bag for the initial treatment. He noted, “She was unconscious. Thanks to my respiratory bag (...) she regained a little bit more energy, but she couldn't say anything.”

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NOV 1996 - PRINCESS DIANA, THE PRINCESS OF WALES ARRIVING AT THE VICTOR CHANG CARDIAC RESEARCH INSTITUTE DINNER DANCE IN SYDNEY , AUSTRALIA. (Photo by Patrick Riviere/Getty Images)
Diana, the Princess of Wales arriving at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute dinner dance on November, 1996 at Sydney, Australia (Patrick Riviere/Getty Images)

Mailliez said that he only got to know that the woman he helped was the Princess of Wales after the news began to flash all over the news. He stated, “I know it's surprising, but I didn't recognise Princess Diana. I was in the car on the rear seat giving assistance. I realised she was very beautiful, but my attention was so focused on what I had to do to save her life, I didn't have time to think, who was this woman.”

“Someone behind me told me the victims spoke English, so I began to speak English, saying I was a doctor and I called the ambulance. I tried to comfort her,” he told AP. Mailliez also mentioned paparazzi taking pictures of the scene as he treated Diana. He added: “They didn't hamper me having access to the victims... I didn't ask them for help, but they didn't interfere with my job.”

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Eventually, firefighters arrived at the scene to help the victims. While another passenger Dodi Fayed and the driver Henri Paul died on the spot, the mother of Prince William and Prince Harry was taken to the Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital, where she was pronounced dead sometime later.

British Royal Diana, Princess of Wales (1961-1997), wearing a pale blue halter-neck dress by fashion designer Catherine Walker, as she attends a dinner hosted by Vanity Fair magazine at the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park, London, England, 27th June 1995. (Photo by Princess Diana Archive/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
British Royal Diana, Princess of Wales, wearing a pale blue halter-neck dress by fashion designer Catherine Walker, as she attends a dinner hosted by Vanity Fair magazine at the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park, London, England, June, 27 1995 (Princess Diana Archive/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

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Mailliez said, “It was a massive shock to learn that she was Princess Diana, and that she died,” before describing his own dilemma, “Did I do everything I could to save her? Did I do correctly my job? I checked with my medical professors and I checked with police investigators,” who all reportedly confirmed that he did everything that he could at the time. The doctor asserted that since the death anniversary of the icon is coming, everything that happened that fateful night is flashing before his eyes. He also said that the memories keep flashing “each time I drive through the Alma Tunnel”.

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The Princess of Wales (1961 - 1997, later Diana, Princess of Wales) at a Royal Gala Performance that opened the Barbican Arts Centre in London, 4th March 1982. She is wearing a full length red evening gown by Belville Sassoon, April 1982. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Diana, Princess of Wales at a Royal Gala Performance that opened the Barbican Arts Centre in London, 4th March 1982. She is wearing a full length red evening gown by Belville Sassoon, April 1982 (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail reported that the Flame of Liberty monument, which is close to the site where the accident happened, has become a memorial site for the princess, regularly visited by her fans of all generations across the world.

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Irinia Ouahvi, a 16-year-old Parisian, said: “Even with her [Diana's] style she was a feminist. She challenged royal etiquette, wearing cyclist shorts and casual pants.” Another 16-year-old girl named Francine Rose of Dutch nationality added: “She is an inspiration because she was evolving in the strict household, the royal family, and just wanted to be free.”

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