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Diana's driver bar-hopped before crash

Paul September 14, 1997
Web posted at: 7:03 p.m. EDT (2303 GMT)

In this story:

PARIS (CNN) -- Henri Paul, the man behind the wheel of the Mercedes in which Princess Diana was killed, visited several bars and drank several strong alcoholic beverages in the hours before the fatal wreck, according to a joint investigation by CNN and Time magazine.

Details of the investigation will be reported on Sunday night's "Impact" program on CNN and in the next issue of Time. The reports also include new details about what happened that fateful night from a witness on the scene and a doctor who attended to Diana immediately after the crash.

Paul and Diana's boyfriend, Dodi Fayed, also were killed in the August 31 crash.

Paul's last hours

From their interviews and investigation, CNN and Time have put together the following scenario of Paul's last hours:

Paul, driving a black Range Rover, met Diana and Fayed at Le Bourget airport at 3:15 p.m. Saturday, where they had flown in a private jet from Sardinia. Diana and Fayed rode from the airport in a Mercedes driven by Fayed's regular chauffeur, Philippe Dourneau, followed by Paul.

After the trip from the airport, Paul congratulated Dourneau on losing the paparazzi, a source close to the investigation quoted Dourneau as telling police.

Paul apparently drank his first alcohol that Saturday at a bar in the Ritz Hotel after he and Dourneau took the couple there at 4 p.m. Several hotel employees said that Paul drank a couple of glasses of Ricard pastis, a French liqueur about as potent as whiskey.

At 7:05 p.m., Dourneau drove Diana and Fayed from the Ritz to Fayed's apartment near the Arc de Triomphe, and Paul considered himself off duty. Two employees at Harry's New York Bar put him there shortly afterward. A bartender said Paul had "two or three whiskeys" before leaving at 9:45 p.m.

However, the bar manager insists Paul was not there that night.

Paul went next to another Paris bar that he is said to have frequented. However, a bartender who placed him there told CNN and Time that he did not appear to be intoxicated and was not there long enough to have a drink. Paul's cell phone rang at about 10 p.m., and he announced, "Gotta go to work. See you later."

Report: Paul drank while waiting on couple

Hotel security cameras showed Paul arriving back at the Ritz at 10:08 p.m. A French newspaper quoted employees at a hotel bar saying Paul drank more pastis while waiting on Fayed and Diana, who were having dinner, and that he staggered while leaving. Bar employees told CNN and Time the report was "exaggerated."

When the couple were ready to leave the hotel, near midnight, a crowd was gathered outside the entrance that included paparazzi. Ritz staff members suggest it was Paul who persuaded Fayed to let him drive because he thought he could best shield them from the photographers.

French police, however, said it was Fayed's bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones, who decided to switch drivers, with Dourneau now driving the Range Rover following the Mercedes, which would leave from the back entrance driven by Paul.

Shortly afterward, the car crashed in a traffic tunnel, killing Paul and Fayed instantly. Diana died later at a hospital, while Rees-Jones survived.

Nearby resident made first call for help

The first call for medical assistance was made by a 32-year-old man who heard the crash from his nearby apartment and raced to the tunnel.

"I heard tires screeching and heard three crashes," he told CNN and Time He saw no paparazzi on motorcycles from his apartment, he said, but when he got to the crash site, he found photographers taking pictures.

The witness saw only one man moving in the wreckage, Rees-Jones.

"He had half his face ripped off," he said. "He was conscious and looked at me."

Romauld Rat, one of the photographers

The witness then ran from the tunnel and borrowed a mobile phone to make the call for medical help. When he returned, he said he saw photographer Romuald Rat opening a car door and then taking Diana's pulse and her picture.

"A young North African man began shouting, saying it was wrong to take pictures and that he should help the victims instead," the witness said.

Doctor 'helped her to breathe'

A few minutes later, Dr. Frederic Mailliez, an off-duty physician, happened on the scene. He attended to Diana, although he did not know who she was until the next morning when he saw coverage of the crash on CNN.

"I tried to make her comfortable," Mailliez said. "She had difficulties to breathe, and she moved a little bit, so I helped her to breathe."

The doctor said he struggled with Diana for about 15 minutes before ambulances arrived. Originally, Mailliez had said that Diana was moaning and gesturing, but he now refuses to describe how she looked or if there were any last words.

"This is the kind of situation that creates myths," Mailliez said. He said if she did speak, "I would only say it to her family."

Correspondent Art Harris contributed to this report.


The Death of Princess Diana

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