Fans hold birthday tribute to Schumacher

By , 5 Jan 2014

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    A camera fixed to the ski helmet of Michael Schumacher is being inspected by investigators probing the accident that has left the German retired racing legend comatose in a French hospital with critical head injuries.

    A source close to French authorities handling the investigation disclosed the existence of the camera late Friday.

    The source said it had been taken to see if it can yield any clues as to the circumstances of the accident.

    Schumacher’s 14-year-old son Mick, who was skiing with his father at the time, was also being questioned by investigators, the source said, confirming information reported by the French newspaper Dauphine Libere.

    The developments in the probe came the day Schumacher turned 45 while still in an induced coma in a hospital in the Alpine city of Grenoble after his December 29 accident.

    Fans marked the birthday with a silent vigil outside the facility, part of which was organised by Ferrari, Schumacher’s former team.

    He has undergone two operations to remove blood and pressure from his brain. His manager said in the last update on Wednesday that he remains in a critical but stable condition.

    His family is at his bedside, including his wife Corinna, his two teenage children, his father Rolf and brother Ralph, who is also a racing driver.

    Ferrari, which brought in fans from Italy and elsewhere in France on board two buses, put a message on its website, saying “Forza Michael,” or “Go Michael” in Italian.

    “He is tackling the most important fight of his life and therefore we want to send him very special wishes,” said Schumacher’s old team, as similar messages poured in from around the world.

    German former tennis ace Boris Becker wished his compatriot “Happy Birthday” on Twitter, adding “Fight Schumi” in a German hashtag.

    The family responded in a statement Friday by saying “the incredible sympathies shown today by the Ferrari fans outside the hospital has utterly overwhelmed us and moved us all to tears”.

    “We are deeply grateful for it and also for all the heartwarming and heartfelt wishes for Michael to get well soon, which have reached us from all over the world.”

    Stefano Pini, a 47-year-old accountant from Milan who arrived to pay tribute, said: “Schumi has given us a lot in the past. The least we could do is to come here and support him and his family on his birthday.”

    However, the Ferrari tribute created controversy, with some accusing the Italian racing giant — which asked fans to sport its trademark colour red and its insignia — of bad taste.

    Roberto Luongo, president of the Roma-Colesseo Ferrari club — one of the 130 clubs the Italian carmaker has in Europe — said he did not want to be associated with an event linked to “a man who is suffering”.

    Schumacher’s fan club in his childhood town of Kerpen said any celebration of the birthday would be in bad taste.

    © AAP 2014
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