PARIS (Associated Press) — The woman was smashed onto the floor of a disfigured Mercedes, unconscious and struggling to breathe. The French doctor had no idea who she was and focused on trying to save her.
Twenty-five years later, Frederic Miles still stands out What happened in the Alma tunnel in Paris on August 31, 1997 – And his realization that he was one of the last to see him Princess Diana Alive.
“I realize my name will always be associated with this tragic night,” Miles, who was on his way home from a party when he came across the car accident, told The Associated Press. “I feel some responsibility for her last moments.”
As fans of Britain and Diana around the world celebrate a quarter-century since her death, Miles recounted the fallout from the accident.
That night, Miles was driving in the tunnel when he spotted a smoking Mercedes nearly split in two.
“I walked toward the wreckage. I opened the door and looked inside.”
What he saw: “Four people, two of them apparently dead, no reaction and no breathing, the other two, on the right side, were living but in serious condition. The front passenger was screaming, he was breathing. He could wait a few minutes.” The passenger, the young woman, was on her knees on the floor of the Mercedes, head down. She was having trouble breathing. She needed help quickly.”
He ran to his car to call emergency services and took a breathing bag.
“She was unconscious,” he said. “Thanks to my breathing bag (…) she regained a bit of energy, but she couldn’t say anything.”
The doctor later found out the news – with the rest of the world – that the woman he treated was Diana, Britain’s national treasure adored by millions.
“I know it’s amazing,” he said, “but I didn’t recognize Princess Diana.” “I was in the car on the back seat to provide assistance. I knew she was very beautiful, but my interest was so focused on what I should do to save her life, and I didn’t have time to think, who this woman was.”
“Someone behind me told me the victims spoke English, so I started speaking English, saying I’m a doctor and calling the ambulance,” he said. “I tried to console her.”
While working, he noticed the flashing of camera lights from the photographers gathered to document the scene. British investigation It found that Diana’s driver, Henry Paul, was drunk and was driving at high speed to evade the following paparazzi.
Miles said he had “no blame” for the paparazzi’s actions after the incident. They did not prevent me from reaching the victims. … I did not ask them for help, but they did not interfere with my job.”
Firefighters came quickly, and Diana was taken to a hospital in Paris, where she died a few hours later. Her companion Dodi Fayed and the driver also died.
“It was a huge shock when I found out that it was Princess Diana, and that she was dead,” said Melise. Then the self-doubt began. “Did I do everything in my power to save her? Did I do my job right?” he asked himself. “I checked with my medical professors and I checked with police investigators,” he said, and they agreed he did everything he could.
Anniversaries bring up those memories again, but they also come back “every time I drive through the Alma Tunnel,” he said.
While Milise was speaking, standing over the tunnel, cars rushed in and out of the shaft where she crashed, now holding a stencil of Diana’s face.
The nearby Flame of Liberty has become a memorial site that attracts Diana fans of all generations and nationalities. She became an immortal figure of emancipation and a fashion icon even for those born after her death.
Irene Oahvey, a 16-year-old Parisian woman visiting the torch, said she knew Diana through her TikTok videos and through her mother.
“Even in her style she was a feminist. She defied royal etiquette, wearing biker shorts and casual pants.”
Francine Rose, a 16-year-old Dutch woman who stopped at Diana’s memorial during a biking trip in Paris, found out her story thanks to “The Princess,” a recent movie starring Kristen Stewart.
“It’s an inspiration because she was growing up in a strict house, the royal family, and she just wanted to be free,” Rose said.
Nicholas Garriga and Jeffrey Schaeffer contributed to this report.
Follow the Associated Press’ coverage of the 25th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death at https://apnews.com/hub/princess-diana
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