- Seven-time world champion fell in Méribel resort in French Alps
- Medical sources say F1 star was suffering from a brain haemorrhage
- Schumacher, 44, was skiing off-piste with son, 14
- The skiing enthusiast was wearing helmet and hit head on a rock
- Airlifted to hospital in Grenoble, 80 miles west, where he was conscious
- But, in a report filed at 7.20pm, doctors said his condition ‘worsened’
- Tonight, a surgeon specialising in brain and spinal injuries tonight arrived
- The German, who retired from sport in 2012, ‘one of best drivers ever’
- Resort’s Director General said Schumacher was ‘shocked and shaken’
Michael Schumacher is fighting for his life after he fell and hit his head on a rock while skiing with his son.
A leading brain surgeon was seen arriving at the hospital in Grenoble, France, where the ex-Formula One driver was being treated.
His family were also at the hospital, where medical sources confirmed Schumacher was in a ‘critical state’ and suffering from a brain haemorrhage.
Eyewitnesses said Schumacher lost consciousness briefly after falling and hitting his head on a rock.
They saw blood oozing from his helmet in the eight minutes between the fall and medics arriving in a helicopter to pick him up.
The accident happened while Schumacher was skiing off-piste.
Yesterday a spokesman for the resort said it proved ‘you can’t do whatever you want’, and that skiers should stay on the pistes.
Last night the Dauphine Libere newspaper in Grenoble reported that the German’s life was in danger.
The Dauphine is one of the most respected papers in the Alps, with reliable medical contacts.
Schumacher, who turns 45 on Friday, was skiing with his 14-year-old son Mick in Meribel, in the Trois Vallees ski area of the French Alps.
He owns a property in the popular resort.
He was at an altitude of almost 7,000ft at an ‘off-piste junction’ between two marked descents – Chamois, a red run, and Biche, a blue run, according to ski resort officials.
Eyewitnesses who called the emergency services reported seeing blood coming from his helmet and marking the snow around.
Olivier Desaulty, a spokesman for Meribel Alpina, a ski lift company, said: ‘Some skiers saw the accident and called us.
‘We immediately sent two ski patrols who were close by. They checked him and called a helicopter.
‘Apparently he was briefly – a minute or so – unconscious. But he came around quickly and was then talking.
‘He said he had hit his head on a rock. He was wearing a helmet fortunately. The helicopter arrived very quickly and he was taken to hospital.”
A spokesman for mountain rescue said: ‘He fell and hit his head at 11.07am. A helicopter was at the site at 11.15am.
‘A doctor specialising in emergencies was on board and treated him immediately. He was in shock.
‘He was then airlifted to the hospital in Moûtiers. He arrived at 11.53am and underwent tests but the accident was considered serious enough for him to be transferred to the larger hospital in Grenoble at 12.45pm.
‘It was a relatively serious trauma to the head. It was quite serious, particularly because it is a head injury.
Last night Gerard Saillant, one of the leading neurologists in Paris and a friend of Schumacher, arrived at the hospital, the CHU de Grenoble, accompanied by police.
Professor Saillant is an expert in brain and spinal injuries and oversaw Schumacher’s medical care when he broke his leg in the 1999 British Grand Prix.
Schumacher’s wife, Corinna, and daughter Gina-Marie, 16, were at the hospital last night along with his son Mick.
Olivier Panis, a former French F1 driver who lives in Grenoble, tried to visit his friend yesterday evening but was turned away by authorities.
Schumacher is a passionate skier, and has a run named after him in the Italian ski resort of Madonna di Campiglio.
Meribel, the resort where had the accident yesterday, is in the Tarentaise Valley, part of Les Trois Vallees, the largest ski area in the world, in the province of Savoie.
CHILLING ECHO OF TRAGIC NATASHA RICHARDSON’S FALL
Michael Schumacher regained consciousness quickly and was able to talk to medics after his fall – but this can be typical for victims of life-threatening brain injuries.
Many feel relatively well for hours after the accident, and there are often no immediate symptoms that indicate trauma to the brain. This lack of reaction, known as a lucid interval, can come after the most serious of injuries.
Any delay in medical attention can have fatal consequences, as blood builds up between the skull and the brain, putting extreme pressure on brain tissue.
This is known as an epidural haematoma. Natasha Richardson, pictured right, died after developing the condition following a skiing accident in 2009. The actress, 45, fell and hit her head on a beginner’s slope during a ski lesson in Canada.
Miss Richardson, who was not wearing a helmet at the time, initially seemed unhurt. She was seen laughing after she got up from the fall and refused to see a doctor.
But an hour later she started having headaches and was taken to hospital. By the time she received medical care, the bleed had cause significant brain damage. She died two days later.
Victims of falls are urged to seek medical attention immediately. If an epidural haematoma is identified in its early stages, the blood can be removed surgically to reduce the pressure on the brain.
It is a popular destination for luxury hotels and world-class skiing conditions, and is situated near the town of Moutiers.
Christophe Gernigon-Lecomte, director of tourism in Meribel, said: ‘This accident is the proof that you can’t do whatever you want.
‘It’s necessary to stay on the pistes, even when weather conditions are good.’
It was bright and sunny in Meribel yesterday morning.
Schumacher is widely regarded as one of the greatest F1 drivers of all time, having won the most championships, race victories, fastest laps, pole positions and races in a single season.
He won the championship seven times, and retired officially at the end of the 2012 season, having returned from a four-year break from the sport.
He turned down the chance to drive for Lotus in the final two races of this year.
Schumacher suffered fractures in his head and neck when he fell off his motorcycle in Spain in February 2009.
He had suffered pains in his neck ever since and is understood that his ski accident on Sunday has impacted on his old injuries.
His manager Sabine Kehm visited the site of the accident, and said in a statement: ‘Michael fell on his head during a private ski trip in the French Alps.
‘He was brought to a hospital and is receiving professional medical attention.
‘We please ask for your understanding that we cannot give out any more information at this time about his state of health.
‘He wore a helmet and he was not alone.’
Schumacher and his family live in a lakeside mansion in Switzerland worth £50million.
The huge property borders Lake Geneva and is thought to contain its own underground petrol station.
He has an extensive classic car collection and a trophy room for the awards he has collected during his racing career.
He was once described as the first billionaire sportsmen, amassing a huge personal fortune during his career.
When he was enticed out of retirement in 2010 he reportedly signed a £30 million-a-year contract with the Mercedes team.
FORMULA 1 DRIVERS SUPPORTING MICHAEL SCHUMACHER
Formula One drivers from around the world have wished Michael Schumacher a full recovery as he lies in a coma after a skiing accident in France.
Soon after news of the accident on Sunday afternoon, Martin Brundle, who was Schumacher’s team-mate at Benetton in 1992 and 1993, tweeted: ‘Let’s hope Michael Schumacher’s ski shunt is not too bad and that he’s totally fixable. He’s a crazy brave skydiving/bike racing daredevil.’
Hours later, when the full extent of Schumacher’s injuries had become clear, he urged: ‘Come on Michael, give us one of those race stints at pure qualifying pace to win through, like you used to. You can do it.’
Felipe Massa, the Brazilian driver whose injury brought Schumacher back to F1 in 2009, posted a picture of the pair embracing on Instragram, with the Portuguese message: ‘I’m praying for God to protect you, brother!’
In English, he wrote: ”I hope you have a quick recovery! God bless you, Michael!’
Schumacher returned to the sport to cover for Massa while he was having a titanium plate put in his skull after crashing in the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Jean-Eric Vergne, Jules Bianchi, and Max Chilton also weighed in, offering best wishes and wishing him a quick recovery.
Romain Grosjean, who finished second to the German legend in the 2012 Nations’ Cup, tweeted: ‘All our thoughts to Schumi and his family. Heikki Kovalainen, who tussled with him on the track in 2004 and 2007, wished him a ‘full recovery soon’. Both gave him the hashtag ‘£legend’.
Stars from other sports also added their well wishes. Retired cricketer Michael Vaughan said: ‘Forget the cricket. Everyone’s thoughts should be with Michael Schumacher.’
Scottish F1 driver Paul di Resta tweeted: ‘Terrible news about MSC, thinking of him and his family. Hoping for better news and that he can pull through £getwellsoon.’
Former F1 driver Giancarlo Fisichella tweeted: ‘I know you Michael, you are the man, you are the best you are….. This is the most difficult race but I am sure you we will again!’
Golfer Ian Poulter wrote: ‘Really hoping Michael Schumacher comes thru his terrible skiing accident. Wishing him well.’
German international footballer Jerome Boateng tweeted: ‘Get well soon, Michael Schumacher!’Olympic rowing champion Sir Michael Pinsent wrote: ‘Come on Michael Schumacher – thinking positive thoughts for him.’
But the driver’s lifestyle has remained relatively modest in comparison to some of his flashier colleagues.
Schumacher still drives a Fiat for personal and family use – perhaps explained by his modest upbringing.
His father was a bricklayer, but he took on a second job repairing go-karts to support the young Michael’s hobby as his talent became obvious, while his mother worked at racing track canteen.
MICHAEL SCHUMACHER’S CAREER INCREDIBLE F1 CAREER
1969: Born on January 3 in Huerth-Hermuelheim, Germany.
1973: Made his racing debut in a kart race.
1987: Won German and European kart championships.
1988: Finished fourth in German Formula Ford championship and second in the European series in first year of car racing.
1990: Won first major single-seater title, clinching the German Formula Three crown. Stepped up to sportscars, driving for Mercedes.
1991: Made Formula One debut for Jordan in Belgium, qualifying seventh before retiring. Raced for Benetton for the rest of the season.
1992: Wins first grand prix in Belgium on his way to third in the championship.
1994: Wins eight grands prix en route to world title but clashes with Damon Hill in final race of the season.
1995: Retains world crown, winning nine races.
1996: Moves to Ferrari and wins three races on his way to third in championship.
1997: Wins five races but is stripped of second in the championship for attempting to take out his title rival Jacques Villeneuve at Jerez.
1999: Breaks his leg at Silverstone when easily leading the championship.
2000: Wins Ferrari’s first world title since 1979, amassing nine wins during the season.
2001: Another nine wins and another title, setting a new record for all-time victories on the way.
2002: Wins championship in record time, setting a new mark of 11 victories.
2003: Wins title by a point after six victories, breaking Juan Manuel Fangio’s record of five championships.
2004: Breaks his own record for wins in a season to take his seventh world title.
2006: September – Announces his retirement at end of 2006 season after winning Italian Grand Prix.
2009: July – Makes shock return to Formula One with Ferrari, deputising for Felipe Massa who was injured in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix.
2010: Comes out of retirement and signs for Mercedes at the age of 40. He was unveiled at the Mercedes factory in Brackley, Northamptonshire.
2012: June – Ends his six-year wait for a podium with an impressive drive to third in the European Grand Prix.
2012: October – Announces that he will retire from Formula 1 at the end of the season.