By Paul Webster (Paris)
Diana, Princess of Wales was conscious after the fatal crash in Paris last August and aware that Dodi Al Fayed was lying dead beside her in the car, according to new accounts of her last four hours published yesterday.
The accounts include details of the desperate attempts by doctors to save her life when it was discovered that she was dying from an internal haemorrhage, although she suffered only one visible injury - a cut on her forehead.
According to a new book, when the emergency services arrived they gave priority to helping her bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones, who appeared to be more seriously injured.
Police, ambulance men and doctors implicitly contradicted claims by Mohamed Al Fayed, Dodi's father, that Diana was able to talk when she reached hospital more than 1 1/2 hours after her chauffeur-driven Mercedes ran into a pillar in the tunnel under the Pont Alma as she was driven from the Ritz Hotel on August 31.
Details of Diana's last hours were compiled by two journalists from the magazine L'Express, Jean-Marie Pontaut and Jerome Dupuis, for a book published by Stock. They clarify many of the obscure and misleading points surrounding the crash as well as providing medical details that have been kept quiet because there has been no public inquest.
Apart from confirming that photographers pursuing the car on motorcycles were the first on the scene and were involved in scuffles with the police and public while they took pictures, the book gives verbatim accounts from eye-witnesses.
Among them was a passing pedestrian, who was the first to open the car door and see the princess lying on the floor and sobbing: "My God, my God."
Romuald Rat, a photographer who is under suspicion of failing to help her, said he pulled the door further open and found the princess trapped between the front and back seats and covered by a rug. He lifted her head to see if she was alive and heard her moaning. He told her in English that a doctor was on the way and then went to help Mr Rees-Jones in the front seat. He survived the crash, despite severe facial injuries.
Confirmation of Diana's consciousness was given by the first policeman on the scene, Sebastien Dorzee, who complained of being shoved by photographers as he tried to get her out of the car.
"The princess had turned round in relation to her initial sitting position and her head was between the two seats and she could see her friend in front of her," he said. "Her eyes were open and she moved, talking to me in a foreign language. When she saw her friend was dead, I think she said, 'My God'. At the same time she rubbed her stomach. She must have felt pain."
While he was trying to get her out of the car, she turned her head and, according to the policeman, realized that the driver, Henri Paul, was also dead.
"She became irritated," he added. "A few seconds afterwards she looked at me and then closed her eyes."
According to the book, emergency services arrived at 38 minutes past midnight, six minutes after the crash, but it was an hour before the princess was removed from the wreck.
While the medical team removed her from the vehicle with the help of firemen, the princess had the first of a number of heart attacks and had to be revived by massage.
Jean-Marc Martino, the doctor who first treated her, said he quickly put a tube down her windpipe, to feed oxygen into her lungs, and massaged her heart to get it beating again. He also began a transfusion, dripping an unspecified fluid into a vein. The manoeuvres succeeded in reviving the heart muscle.
At 1.30 am it was decided to take her to the Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital. The ambulance drove at about 20 mph but had to stop for five minutes because Diana's heart started failing.
Daniel Eyraud, the surgeon who treated her on arrival at the hospital, said there was no serious external injury and the haemorrhage was discovered only after X-rays. The princess's chest had been compressed in the crash, damaging both her right lung and her heart. At 2 am the first of a series of operations started in which her chest was opened.
"I noted that the origin of the bleeding was in the pericardiac cavity, completely on the left and behind," the doctor said, explaining that the pulmonary vein had been pulled from the heart.
By 3 am, the bleeding was under control but the princess's heart was kept pumping only by the injection of 150 doses of adrenalin and several electric shocks. Eventually, surgeons realized that her heart had given out and registered death at 4 am.
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