PARIS (AP) — Seven-time Formula One champion Michael Schumacher was in critical condition after undergoing brain surgery following a weekend skiing accident that has stunned drivers, fans and athletes around the world.
The Grenoble University Hospital Center said the retired racing driver arrived at the clinic in a coma on Sunday and underwent immediate surgery for a serious head trauma.
It was not clear whether the 44-year-old Schumacher was still in a coma but the hospital statement, which was signed by a neurosurgeon, an anesthesiologist and Marc Penaud, the hospital's deputy director, said "he remains in a critical condition."
Schumacher fell while skiing off-piste in Meribel in the French Alps on Sunday morning and hit his head on a rock, according to a statement from the resort. Resort managers said he had been wearing a helmet and was conscious when rescuers first responded to the scene.
The Meribel resort initially said Schumacher had been taken to Grenoble for tests and authorities said his life was not in danger.
But the situation began to appear more serious when the resort said that orthopedic and trauma surgeon Gerard Saillant had traveled from Paris to the hospital in Grenoble to examine Schumacher. German news agency dpa said it was Saillant who operated on Schumacher when he broke his leg during a crash at the Silverstone race course in 1999.
In an email to The Associated Press, Schumacher's manager Sabine Kehm said the champion German driver was on a private skiing trip and "fell on his head."
"We ask for understanding that we cannot give running updates on his condition. He wore a helmet and was not alone," Kehm said. Schumacher's 14-year-old son Mick was skiing with his father when the accident happened, the resort said.
ESPN F1 reported that Schumacher's wife and children were at the hospital, along with Jean Todt, his former Ferrari team boss and now president of motorsport's governing body, the FIA. Ross Brawn, who worked with Schumacher at Ferrari and Mercedes F1 teams, was reportedly also at the hospital, where a gathering of media and fans was swelling.
As news of the accident spread, Formula One drivers used social media to wish Schumacher a quick recovery.