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Posted By: Rayelan
Date: Wednesday, 6-Sep-2000 14:44:59

From Rayelan: I am posting this article in this way, because I just discovered that the Forum is capable of support HTML -- because this article fills the entire screen, those with AOL may not be able to read it -- everyone else should use the "full screen" feature which can be activated by clicking on the tiny arrows that everyone ignores -- the ones on the right side. If you don't have these tiny arrows -- please consult your help feature.

For those who know HMTL -- you can now use it on The Rumor Mill News Forum --


The Sunday Times Plus Section

The Sunday Times on the Web Plus
8th March 1998

Front Page|
Editorial/Opinion| Business|Sports |
Mirror Magazine
Front Page
Mirror Magazine
Drand Hotel
Stay cool in Grand style
  • The sole survivor
  • Surviving the jaws of paedophilia
  • Where river, lake and mountain meet
  • Stay cool in Grand style
  • Grand fun and frolic
  • French connection in perfumed isle- Ports of Call
  • Kala Korner -By DeeCee
  • Book Review
  • What imagination, what fun
  • Introducing contemporary poets-New Book
  • Faces, figures and colours
  • Why Vimukthi matters
  • Cumaratunga as a language planner
  • By-passing by-pass surgery
  • Alcohol vs sex and fertility
  • Sudu Nelum: bridging the ethnic divide
  • U.N.P proposals - a Trojan horse -Point of View
  • Converting to LPG - what you should know- Wheels
  • Audi comes to stay here
  • The truth is out there! - A viewfrom the hills
  • Green light for Expressway
  • Tragedy and bravery
  • The lady diplomat who did it in style
  • This beats the grandest job in the wholeworld

The sole survivor of the PrincessDiana's tragic accident

By special arrangement with Asia Features

  • I was there…
  • Speedy recovery
  • I was there…

    Trevor Rees-Jones, Dodi Al-Fayed's bodyguard, the solesurvivor of the tragic accident in which Princess Diana and Dodi died,is recovering. Here he speaks to Piers Morgan

    Princess DianaBackto Paris on the night of August 30. Back into the Mercedes as it sped towardsthe tunnel from the Ritz Hotel. As it crashed. The most dramatic flashbackTrevor Rees-Jones, Dodi Al-Fayed's bodyguard has been experiencing involvesPrincess Diana.
    He chooses his words with extreme precision. This is not a man who wantsto embellish, who wants to exaggerate, who wants to distort what he seesas the truth.
    Trevor knows that his memory could solve one of the greatest riddlesof the 20th Century. He does not want to make a mistake.
    Staring intently ahead, he says firmly; I am starting to remember moreand more.
    "To start with I couldn't remember a thing, and the doctors weren'tsure if I would ever remember. I had amnesia, everything was just a blank.
    "But now it is coming back.
    Rees-Jones"Iget these sudden flashes of memory. They are small, and don't last verylong. The pyschiatrist calls them windows of memory.
    "I don't recall the actual moment of collision at all, but I dorecall being in the vehicle immediately after the crash.
    "I have had flashes of a female voice calling out in the back ofthe car.
    "First it's a groan. And then Dodi's name is called.
    "I don't remember if it is over and over again. But I do remembera voice calling out Dodi's name. And that can only be Princess Diana'svoice.
    "I was obviously in a very bad state myself, but I was conscious.As far as I consider there were only two people conscious in the vehicle.
    "I know for a fact I was one of them because I have seen my medicalreport.
    "And I've also seen reports of people who arrived on the scene.
    Princess Diana was the other one who was conscious. Unfortunately theother two people were dead. Listening to this sensational testimony isan astonishing experience.
    After all the speculation, all the hype, all the wild accusations andclaims and counter claims, here at last is the word of the one man whois really in a position to know.
    The one man who was there, in the car. And who was conscious.
    If Trevor's memory is true, and psychiatrists believe that it is, thenit supports Mohammed Al Fayed's claim that Diana was able to speak afterthe crash. That it is possible she was able to utter the last words thatMr. Al Fayed says were passed on to him by a nurse at the hospital.
    It will also lead to renewed concern about whether more could have beendone to save her life by the emergency services-who have always insistedshe was knocked unconscious by the force of the collision and never regainedconsciousness. Trevor is not trying to impress me. He knows the significanceof what he is saying.
    He has no memory of Diana saying anything else. He just has repeatedflashbacks of her being conscious. Trevor passes every detail of his recollectiononto the investigators in France - who cling to every fragment, desperatefor anything that might help them solve the mystery of what happened inthat tunnel.
    Trevor doesn't know what caused the Mercedes to crash, but he does recallsome fascinating details of what led up to it. He remembers disagreeingwith Dodi over the best way to leave the hotel. He remembers Henri Paulreturning to the Ritz of his own volition and reaching agreement with Dodithat he should drive the fateful car. He remembers spending two hours inthe hotel with Paul and another bodyguard. He remembers leaving from theRitz and being pursued by two cars and a motorbike. Crucially he recallsthat one of the cars was white, possibly the elusive Fiat Uno police arestill hunting.
    Trevor is frustrated he can't remember the exact circumstances of whathappened. But he is also angry. Angry at suggestions he acted unprofessionally,by allowing Henri Paul to drive while drunk and that he didn't force Dianaand Dodi to wear seatbelts.
    Trevor reveals the events of that night as he remembers them, pausingto ensure he does not say anything other than what factual, as his memorytells him happened.
    He is aware that some will think he might be tempted to convenientlydistort that memory to support what his boss Mr. Al Fayed has already said.
    The suggestion deeply offends him. Trevor Rees - Jones does not liefor anyone. He is a man of principle.
    He says: 'I am simply saying what happened as I believe it so that peopleknow what I know.
    'A lot of things have been said by certain media that have been wrongand insulting to my professional reputation.
    'It is a very easy thing for people to look back on what happened andsay this was wrong and that was wrong, but obviously we don't live in anideal world. I do not believe that I acted irresponsibly at all.
    'I knew Henri Paul from the other times I had met him at the Ritz.
    'My impression of him was that he was a professional man who knew whathe was doing.
    'I had seen him drive the car behind me from the airport on the afternoonof the day before the accident and I saw nothing that said he was a poordriver.
    'He seemed perfectly competent to me. He was driving the backup carand I checked fairly regularly and both another member of the securityteam, Kes Wingfield and I were very satisfied with what we saw.
    HowPaul came to be driving again that night is a story of circumstance anda fascinating insight into the relationship between bodyguard and the boss.'
    Trevor reveals; My assessment of the situation when Dodi wanted to leavethe Ritz with Diana was that we should go in two cars driving in tandem.There were a lot of photographers and tourists and I thought that wouldbe the quickest way out.
    'We had had a few problems earlier in the evening when the couple triedto eat their meal in the restaurant and photographers were upsetting thema bit. It would also give us a backup car behind the first Mercedes toput a bit of distance between us and whoever tried to follow. But the couplewere not happy about that plan. Dodi preferred to leave through the backdoor with me and Henri Paul leaving the usual driver to go out the frontas a decoy.
    'We had travelled single driver for the previous two weeks in Londonwith Diana and also in St Tropez and it had worked pretty well. So I didn'tsee the need to make a big issue out of it. I thought it would be betterto have two cars, but Dodi was the boss. Henri Paul had returned to thehotel by now, after hearing that Diana and Dodi were there, and it wasagreed he should drive the main car. I was relaxed about that because hewas an experienced security man and very experienced at driving in Paris- which I was not at all.'
    Paul joined Trevor and Kes Wingfield.Trevor recalls; there was absolutelynothing untoward about his behaviour. "If there had been. Kes or Iwould have picked up on it straight away. That is what we are trained todo. But he seemed perfectly normal to both of us.
    "He sat at the bar drinking some yellow liquid that I assumed wasnonalcoholic.' In fact it was pastis, an aniseed-based aperatif popularin France. He spent most of the time talking to Kes about work matters,while I kept a look out for Dodi and Diana on the staircase. They had goneup to the Imperial Suite for a bit of privacy.
    'As far as I was concerned he was on duty and that was that.
    'I had no reason to suspect he was drunk. He did not look or sound likehe had been drinking.
    'I can state quite categorically that he was not a hopeless drunk assome have tried to suggest. I remember that part of the evening clearlyand he was fine. I like to think I have enough nose and intelligence tosee if the guy was plastered or not and he wasn't. I was quite happy withthe situation.
    He says; 'I can recall that we were being followed as we headed forthe apartment.
    'There were two cars and a motorbike, one seemed to be a white car witha boot which opened at the back and three doors.'
    Trevor was the only person wearing a seatbelt when the Mercedes crashed- yet witnesses say he was NOT wearing one when the car left the Ritz.
    He does not know why he switched or when. Again, his memory of thisdetail could be vitally important. He says; 'In general, in town, I don'twear a seatbelt unless the speed warrants it. I can't explain why I wasthe only one wearing a belt, or why I put it on because I can't remember.But the final say on whether Dodi and Diana wore belts would have beendown to them. I can only recommend it you can't make someone wear a beltif they don't want to.
    Trevor appears worn out by what he has just discussed. He has neverspoken publicly about any of this, least of all to a journalist.
    The future for Trevor Rees-Jones is uncertain both professionally andpersonally. He has been guaranteed a job for life by Mohammed Al Fayed,who he says has been 'fantastic' in looking after him and his family. Hehas nearly won the physical battle, through sheer grit and hard work anddetermination. But I suspect the mental battle will be more difficult toovercome. He is clearly very deeply affected by what happened to him thatnight and to the people he knew well and liked. For Trevor Rees-Jones theroad ahead is uncertain. But he knows life will never be the same again.

    Speedy recovery

    Trevor Rees-Jones' injuries were severe but notlife-threatening. Witnesses described how he lay in the front passengerseat conscious with half his face ripped off and hanging loose.
    The anonymous passer-by told detectives; "I told him not to panic,help was on its way. He looked at me and struggled but could say nothing.
    "He was in a bad way - he was hard to look at. Another witness,Mark Butt, said Trevor was moaning in agony as he was cut free from thecar.
    Ironically, he looked the most damaged of all the four people in thecar yet he was the one who survived.
    He talks of his injuries in the way you would expect a former soldierto, dispassionately, matter-of-fact, almost bored. "Most of my facewas fractured and badly broken.
    My skull was fractured at the front and my jaw was dislocated, smashedand broken. I also cracked a vertebrae in my neck which has affected myright shoulder a bit.
    drain in and it was OK. Early reports claimed he had lost his tongueand would never talk again. But as he speaks articulately and with justa tiny suggestion of an impediment, that was clearly exaggerated.
    "My tongue was cut by my teeth but it's alright now. There's alittle scar underneath it, that's all.' Miraculously, Trevor is on courseto make a full recovery.
    He says; I would say I am 80 per cent fit now. I've still got a fewproblems. "I have to have physiotherapy about two or three times aweek but even that has been cut down now. I've got to visit the surgeonin Paris just for the final check-up as far as I know. But as you can see,I'm well enough to get back to work and perform a few light duties. Thespeed of his recovery has amazed doctors.
    But this modest rather shy man won't have any talk of heroics. "Look,it's down to the kind of person you are really.
    "If you are quite happy to sit around mooching in hospital formonths on end and have all the attention on you then you are not goingto get well as quickly as a person who doesn't want to feel self-pity andjust wants to get up and get on with it. I've never been through anythinglike this before, you can't prepare for it obviously. But you can havethe right attitude to recovery.'
    Surgeons reconstructed Trevor's face with the aid of his wedding albumof photographs."
    "They think there are just a few bruised nerves down to the shoulder.
    "It doesn't hurt too much, it's just that I dont have much powerthere. But they are sure that will come back.

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    Rayelan -- Wednesday, 6-Sep-2000 14:44:59
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