As the world remembers Princess Diana on the twentieth anniversary of her death, new details have been revealed about the car crash that claimed the life of the 36-year-old.
Shortly after midnight on August 31, 1997, Diana and her boyfriend of just six weeks, Dodi Fayed left The Ritz hotel in Paris.
A 2008 inquest into her death found the “unlawful killing” to be the result of two factors. Firstly, their driver Henri Paul's post-mortem revealed he was found to be three times over the French driving limit.
Secondly, the paparazzi that followed their Mercedes, specifically, “the speed and manner of driving of the following vehicles,” caused the crash, which killed Diana, Dodi and Paul, the court ruled.
Now, the firefighter, who was first at the scene, and pulled the Princess from the vehicle, has spoken publically for the first time in 20 years.
50-year-old Xavier Gourmelon told The Sun, that now he has retired it’s ok to speak publicly about the tragedy. The only other time he has gone on-the-record was at the inquest, ten years ago.
Xavier Gourmelon says Diana was conscious and had her eyes open as he pulled her from the wreckage, only to suffer a cardiac arrest as she was placed on the ambulance stretcher.
“She was moving very slightly and I could see she was alive,” he said.
“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?’"
“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.”
The first responder gave the mother-of-two CPR and thought that despite her injuries she would survive.
“I know now that there were serious internal injuries, but the whole episode is still very much in my mind. And the memory of that night will stay with me forever.”
“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.”
This article originally appeared on InStyle Australia.