Seven-time Formula 1 champion Michael Schumacher is in critical condition after suffering a head injury in a skiing accident in the French Alps on Sunday, reports said, adding that the 44-year-old racing legend was in a coma after undergoing brain surgery at the Grenoble University Hospital Center.
Schumacher, who had retired from F1 for a second time in 2012, was skiing with his 14-year-old son and others in Meribel, France. According to reports, Schumacher was doing some backcountry skiing, or off-piste, when he fell and hit his head on a rock.
The director of the resort in Meribel, about 75 miles west of Grenoble, said that he was wearing a helmet and was unconscious when rescuers first arrived at the scene. Schumacher’s manager, Sabine Kehm, said the champion driver was on a private skiing trip and confirmed that he wore a helmet while on the slopes.
Reports said Schumacher had been skiing under la Debt de Burgin, located between extremely difficult pistes, where there was a high risk of avalanches due to heavy snowfall over the past two days.
Gerard Saillant, a leading neurologist in Paris and friend of the former F1 racer, is reported to have travelled about 350 miles south from Paris to the hospital in La Tronche to examine Schumacher. According to reports, Saillant had operated on Schumacher when he broke his leg during a crash at the Silverstone race course in the UK in 1999.
Schumacher’s wife Corinna Betsch and his two children are reportedly at his bedside.
Schumacher was also seriously hurt in a motorcycling accident in February 2009 in Spain. He recovered from the injury after having suffered severe neck and spine injuries.
Schumacher retired from racing for the second time last year after a disappointing comeback in 2010 when he drove for three seasons for Mercedes. He first retired in 2006 after winning five straight titles with Ferrari following two earlier ones with Benetton.