The death of Princess Diana was a moment in history that many people will forever carry with them, but the first responder who was on the scene of the car crash has quite a different perspective.
French firefighter Xavier Gourmelon was called to the scene of the accident in Paris, arriving at the accident with his team to help. He spotted a woman in the back seat and got in to help her.
Gourmelon told The Sun of the accident: “The car was in a mess and we just dealt with it like any road accident,” adding of Diana, “She was moving very slightly and I could see she was alive. I could see she had a slight injury to her right shoulder but, other than that, there was nothing significant. There was no blood on her at all.”
He added that he treated her, saying, “I massaged her heart and a few seconds later she was breathing again. It was a relief of course because, as a first responder, you want to save lives — and that’s what I thought I had done.”
Unfortunately, her life couldn’t be saved, as she was put in an ambulance and rushed to the hospital. At the time, Gourmelon didn’t know who he had assisted, but a fellow firefighter clued him in. He explained, “I had no idea then that it was Princess Diana. It was only when she had been put into the ambulance that one of the paramedics told me it was her.”
He noted, “I was so shocked. I knew who she was, but don’t follow British royalty closely. I went to the ambulance and looked in and that’s when I recognized her.”
Gourmelon said, “To be honest I thought she would live,” adding, “As far as I knew when she was in the ambulance she was alive and I expected her to live. But I found out later she had died in hospital. It was very upsetting.”
Princess Diana’s internal injuries were worse than he could have known and he was shocked to hear of her passing. Of his time spent helping her, Gourmelon recalled, “I held her hand and told her to be calm and keep still. I said I was there to help and reassured her. She said, ‘My God, what’s happened?’”
It’s a moment he will never forget, as he explained, “I can still picture the whole scene. It’s something I’ll never forget and that I always think about at this time of year.”
He added, “[T]he whole episode is still very much in my mind. And the memory of that night will stay with me forever.”
Gourmelon also explained why he’s never spoken publicly of assisting Diana before, noting: “This is the first time I have spoken to the media. As a fireman you are part of the French military so you are forbidden to talk. Now I have left the fire service I felt it was OK.”
Many people weighed in with comments on the People Facebook post about the story, with one person noting: “I cannot even imagine what he’s been through or anyone who tried to save her that night. Prayers for family as I know this time is very difficult for them.”