Open airbag theory in Diana crash

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The Independent Online
A prematurely opening airbag may have caused the accident which killed Diana, Princess of Wales, according to a new theory which is under serious consideration by French investigators.

A doctor who studied the injuries suffered by the only survivor, bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones, believes that the airbags in the Mercedes were already part- inflated before the car slammed head on into a pillar in an underpass in central Paris in August.

If so, the bags may have been triggered wrongly by an earlier impact, possibly a glancing collision with a slower car which crossed the Mercedes' path. This would help to explain why the driver, Henri Paul, lost control of the limousine and crashed at high speed into the central reservation pillar.

Police sources told the newspaper Le Parisiene that the chief investigator, Judge Herve Stephan was taking the theory seriously and had asked for new tests on the Mercedes and its airbags this week.

At the same time Paris police have asked for a copy of a video shot by Australian tourists outside the Ritz hotel just before Diana's party left on their fateful drive.

The video shows a small white Citreon outside the hotel. Paris police say they have no reason to connect this car with the white Fiat, which forensic tests suggest may have impeded the Mercedes just before the crash. But they have asked to see the video in any case.

- John Lichfield, Paris