Journalist disguised as priest tries to approach Michael Schumacher
Manager describes ploy at hospital as 'revolting' as surgeons announce slight improvement in the condition of the Formula One legend after his life-threatening accident
A person dressed as a priest, reportedly a journalist, tried to approach Michael Schumacher, who is in a coma and critical after a skiing accident in France, his manager said.
“There have been several interesting incidents here at the hospital,” Sabine Kehm said in the Alpine city of Grenoble, where the Formula One legend is being treated following his off-piste accident on Sunday.
“There apparently was a person dressed-up as a priest, who tried to get near Michael. I am asking everyone to let the doctors work and leave the family spend peaceful time with Michael.”
Responding to a question as to whether the priest was a journalist, she said: “It’s what I was told... We have clearly noted that people are trying to get beyond the press room here in the clinic. It’s revolting, in my opinion.”
Schumacher showed a slight improvement on Tuesday after a second operation following his life-threatening ski accident but was "not out of danger," doctors treating him said.
Surgeons said they "gained some time" by performing a successful second procedure on the seven-times world champion but he still remained critical.
His wife and two children are at the hospital in the French Alpine city of Grenoble where the former racing driver remains in a coma after he fell and slammed his head on a rock while skiing off-piste on Sunday.
News of the accident stunned the world and racing stars joined German Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel and legions of fans in expressing hopes for his recovery.
Schumacher underwent an operation soon after being taken by helicopter to the hospital on Sunday, and surgeons performed the second nearly two-hour-long procedure to remove a blood clot on the right side of the brain.
Jean-Francois Payen, head of the intensive care unit, said Schumacher was not out of the woods. "We cannot speculate on the future," he said. "We cannot say he is out of danger but we have gained some time."
He said scans showed that the removal of the clot had been done in a "satisfactory manner", but ruled out Schumacher's transfer from the hospital as it could be dangerous.
Emmanuel Gay, head of the neurosurgery department, said he was surprised by the improvement in the condition of Schumacher.
Watch: Schumacher improving but 'not out of danger,' doctors say
Doctors have said that Schumacher, who is due to turn 45 on Friday, has age and physical fitness on his side. He had been put in a medically induced coma to spur recovery.
By being unconscious, the brain is also switched off to sounds, light and other triggers that cause the organ to use up oxygen as it processes the stimuli.
A source close to the investigation into the off-piste accident at the upmarket ski resort of Meribel said Schumacher's helmet, which medics say saved his life, was smashed by the impact.
The German newspaper Bild also quoted a rescuer as saying the split helmet was "full of blood".
Merkel was "extremely shocked" by the incident, said her spokesman Steffen Seibert.
Damon Hill, who fought several memorable on-track battles with Schumacher, said he was praying for his former rival.
Current Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel, 26, who has said Schumacher was his childhood idol, said: "I am shocked and I hope he'll be feeling better as soon as possible."
Schumacher, who won the last of his world titles in 2004, towered over the sport since his debut in 1991, winning more Formula One world titles and races than any other. He had a record 91 wins and is one of only two men to reach 300 grands prix.
His duels in his heyday with Hill and Jacques Villeneuve, fired by an unquenchable competitive spirit, have gone down in Formula One lore.