Lady D, the night I tried to save her: Doctor Frederic Mailliez is speaking

“I rescued Princess Diana without knowing who she was,” says the Parisian doctor. That she guards those last moments of life 'so that no one can make a mess of them'

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Specialized in emergency medicine, Frederic Mailliez has seen it all in 35 years of work. When he talks about the night 25 years ago it is as if he had seen nothing else in his life. The Alma tunnel, the orange glow of artificial lights, the disaster. He was the first to arrive at the scene of the Lady D accident. The only one to remain face to face with the dying princess - Photo | video

The only one having to decide what to do, to try to save her life. Moments punctuated by the stopwatch. Five minutes or so. An eternity, or a little less. From the parapet of avenue de New York, Mailliez overlooks the tunnel. He goes back to sit down at a café in Place de l 'Alma and tells the story. He moves his hands, lifts them, approaches them as if they were holding an invisible and fragile crystal vase: 'I put my left hand on the back of my neck,' he says. 'I still have in my fingers the sensation of delicacy of that soft, shiny, manicured hair ... It's all so strange.'

Why strange? “I've always talked about investigation issues in the past. What I saw, who was there, what I did, what the others were doing. Certain sensations have always remained in the background. Now for the first time I talk about it and, today as then, I get excited ».

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Understandable. Continue. “The head was lowered to the chest. I had to lift her up, I put my hand on her neck, I began to push up on her and at a certain point I had in front of her the splendor of her whole, perfect face '.

Did you recognize it? “No, I didn't understand who he was. I didn't even think about it. Emotions took me elsewhere. Clutching her face, seeing her breathe so hard, thinking that a beautiful young woman could be dying made me feel enormous tenderness ».

Did you think you could save her? 'I tried. I applied a respirator to her, operated it by hand and when the firefighters arrived she was already better. She had no visible injuries but given the impact, something serious had to be suspected. I left her to people more equipped than me and I returned home with the illusion that yes, maybe she would have made it '.

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It went as it went. Let's go back to the beginning. “I had been to the suburbs at a friend's house, I was with my partner and I was returning to Paris. Beautiful evening. After the Eiffel Tower I saw the traffic slow down. When I got out of the tunnel, I realized that there was a wrecked car stopped in the opposite lane. '

Were there paparazzi in the tunnel? “They came later. A minute, maybe more. '

What did you do? 'I stopped, put the flashing light on the roof, got out and ran to the other side. The car had hit a pylon, had the engine split in two, had turned upside down and the left side was against the outer wall of the tunnel. I could not access from the driver's side. I looked out of the windows on the right to make a quick assessment ».

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What did you see? 'There were four people. The driver had slid forward, I hardly saw him. Beside there was a man in pain ( Trevor Rees-Jones, bodyguard , ed). Behind there was a woman. Upright position, knees on the floor, resting on the seat in front. She was in profile, turned towards the inside of the car. She breathed. A man was lying in the back seat, ( Dodi , ed). She wasn't breathing. He appeared to be in cardiac arrest. '

How did it proceed? 'I called for help. Two in cardiac arrest and two in serious condition, I said. I had no defibrillator, for the driver and the man in the back seat there was nothing I could do. The passenger in front was complaining, he was conscious, so he could wait. The woman was breathing hard. I took the respiratory mask and helped her. She was hypotonic. She was struggling. But lifting her head allowed her to improve ventilation. '

According to a firefighter, Diana repeated 'My God, what happened?', My God, what happened. “I haven't heard anything. The paparazzi told me to address her in English. I didn't understand why. She was not conscious, she was unable to speak. '

Did the paparazzi make you understand who was in the car? “I was focused on helping the woman and seeing signs of awakening from others. Honestly, I haven't asked myself too many questions. '

The paparazzi at the time were accused of causing the accident and obstructing rescue. 'I wasn't there and I don't know how the accident went. By the time I got into the tunnel, there were no paparazzi. And when they arrived they never got in the way of my work. I was happy to have made a contribution to restoring the truth '.

When did you find out you had helped Diana? 'The next morning my partner woke me up and told me everything. It was a shock ».

What does it mean to be at the center of a global event? «You find yourself projected into a surreal dimension. Everyone says what he wants. And he sometimes writes it. An American reporter described me as a British intelligence agent who intervened to finish off Diana. Another made me say that the violence of the impact had ripped the heart of the princess. '

Media butchery. 'Unfortunately. All false. But even if it were true, why write it. Beyond medical secrecy, what need is there to add pain to pain, to stir blood and screams under the eyes of two children left without their mother? '.

Have you heard from Diana's family? «After a few months Diana's mother wrote to me to thank me. The UK ambassador in Paris invited me to dinner and asked me if there was anything I wanted to pass on to the Royal Family. But I had already said everything ».

What remains of that story? 'The initial feeling has always prevailed in me, of having rescued a young woman, beautiful and refined. Before being a princess for me she remains the mother of two children and no matter how pretentious it may seem, I feel her custodian of her last moments of her life, to be remembered with infinite tenderness '