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French doctor Frederic Mailliez was one of the last people to see Diana Spencer alive the night she passed. Almost 25 years later to the day, Mailliez recounted the princess’s last moments in Paris’ Alma Tunnel to the Associated Press.
“I realize my name will always be attached to this tragic night,” Mailliez said. “I feel a little bit responsible for her last moments.”
The doctor was driving home following a party on Aug. 31, 1997, when he came across the tragic accident in the tunnel. He recalls the smoking Mercedes split in two catching his attention.
“I walked toward the wreckage. I opened the door, and I looked inside,” Mailliez said.
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The doctor described seeing four individuals total — two whose lifeless bodies lay still — “no reaction, no breathing,” and two others on the right-hand side of the car who looked to be in severe condition.
“The front passenger was screaming, he was breathing. He could wait a few minutes. And the female passenger, the young lady, was on her knees on the floor of the Mercedes, she had her head down. She had difficulty breathing. She needed quick assistance,” Mailliez described.
Mailliez rushed to his car to retrieve a respiratory bag and call emergency services to treat the woman, unbeknown to him that it was, in fact, Princess Diana.
“I know it’s surprising, but I didn’t recognize Princess Diana,” he said.
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Mailliez aided the princess with the respiratory bag, but she remained unable to speak despite the regained strength. Mailliez tried to comfort her while the ambulance arrived when a swarm of paparazzi descended upon the scene. Despite the flash of camera bulbs, Mailliez said the photographers did not interfere with him treating the patients.
“They didn’t hamper me having access to the victims. … I didn’t ask them for help, but they didn’t interfere with my job,” Mailliez said.
Firefighters eventually arrived at the scene where they transported Diana to a Paris hospital where she later died from her injuries. Her companion, Dodi Fayed, and their driver also passed.
A British inquest later found Diana’s chauffeur, Henri Paul, was drunk and had been driving at high speeds in an attempt to escape any photographers.
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Mailliez recalled questioning his quick actions at the scene after finding out he had treated the late princess.
“Did I do everything I could to save her? Did I do correctly my job?” Mailliez had asked himself. “I checked with my medical professors and I checked with police investigators,“With all of them agreeing the doctor had done everything in his power to save her.
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25 years later, Mailliez said he is reminded of the tragic night every time he drives through the tunnel. The Flame of Liberty monument nearby now stands as a memorial site in remembrance of Diana and her legacy. Tourists and fans of the late princess visit the site regularly, with Diana an icon and timeless figure for people of all generations.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.