Diana hurt, beau killed in crash
August 30, 1997
Web posted at: 11:15 p.m. EDT (0315 GMT)
In this story:
PARIS (CNN) -- Britain's Princess Diana was seriously injured
and her companion and Harrod's heir Dodi Fayed was killed
Sunday in a Paris car crash, police said.
Diana was at a Paris hospital with a concussion, a broken arm and a serious injury to her thigh, Radio France Info reported.
The car's chauffeur also was killed in the crash, police told
The Princess of Wales was taken to Paris' Salpetriere hospital for emergency treatment. Police
said Diana was in the intensive care unit of the eastern
Paris hospital, which specializes in emergency cases.
A fourth person in the car, one of the princess' bodyguards,
was seriously injured and freed from the wreckage, police
The crash occurred shortly after midnight in a tunnel along
the Seine River at the Pont de l'Alma bridge in the capital's
8th district while paparazzi on at least one motorcycle were
following her car, police said.
Witnesses heard crash
An American witness, Mike Walker, told CNN the car in which
Diana was traveling "looked like it hit the wall."
Two other Americans visiting Paris heard the crash and ran to
the scene. Joanna Luz and Tom Richardson, both of San Diego,
told CNN they were walking along the Seine when they heard a
bang and squealing tires under the bridge.
They described the car as a dark blue Mercedes, with the
passenger side airbag deployed, facing oncoming traffic.
They also said they believed at least one cameraman was
following the car, saying that what appeared to be a
professional photographer was on the scene less than 15
seconds after the crash.
"His equipment was very professional -- his camera was a foot
and a half tall," Luz said. "It definitely was not a tourist
Early calls to British newspapers found none with reporters
assigned to follow Diana in Paris. However, CNN Paris Bureau
Chief Jim Bittermann said that would not be unusual; the
British papers often rely on freelancers who are willing to
go to great lengths to get an exclusive photograph of the
Bittermann said the highway, one of several high-speed
arteries into the heart of Paris, typically has very little
traffic around midnight Saturday.
There is no barrier between incoming and outgoing traffic,
Bittermann said; if a car went out of control it would be
nearly certain to swerve into oncoming traffic.
The crash trapped several people in a pileup, France Info
radio reported. Police cars and vans with flashing lights
filled the site outside the tunnel and officers blocked off
The car was apparently traveling without an escort.
Diana, Fayed dined earlier in evening
Reports said that Diana, 36, and Fayed, 42, were dining at the Ritz
Hotel in Paris before the accident. Fayed's family owns the
Ritz Hotel chain; the car's chauffeur was also reported to be
a Ritz employee.
Diana, whose divorce from Britain's Prince Charles became
official last year, had been on vacation in the south of
France with Fayed last week. It was believed to be her third
romantic vacation with Fayed.
Speculation surrounding Diana and the Egyptian millionaire
has been rampant ever since she was spotted embracing Fayed
on a Mediterranean cruise earlier this month.
Fayed and the princess are said to have met about 10 years
ago, when he played polo against Prince Charles, the heir to
the British throne.
Films that Fayed has produced or co-produced include the 1981
Oscar-winning "Chariots of Fire," "The World According to
Garp," "F/X" and "Hook."
Reportedly a multi-millionaire, Fayed had homes in London,
New York, Los Angeles and Switzerland as well as a garage
full of luxury cars. His 1994 marriage lasted just eight
Fayed's father, self-made billionaire Mohamed Al-Fayed, owns
London's fabled Harrod's department store, the Hotel Ritz in
Paris and has 11 homes around the world.
Mohamed Al-Fayed had been friendly with Diana's father, the
late Lord Spencer.
Diana and Charles' two sons, Princes William and Harry, are
believed to be vacationing with Charles at the royal family's
Scottish home at Balmoral.
Diana was due back in Britain on Sunday and had been expected
to see her sons at her London home at Kensington Palace.
Paris Bureau Chief Jim Bittermann, Reuters and The Associated
Press contributed to this report.