Schumacher's ski helmet camera inspected, son questioned

File photo of then Ferrari Formula One driver Michael Schumacher on skis during his team's winter retreat in the Dolomite resort of Madonna Di Campiglio in Jan 12, 2006. Mr Schumacher suffered a serious head injury while skiing in the French Alps res
File photo of then Ferrari Formula One driver Michael Schumacher on skis during his team's winter retreat in the Dolomite resort of Madonna Di Campiglio in Jan 12, 2006. Mr Schumacher suffered a serious head injury while skiing in the French Alps resort of Meribel earlier this week. --PHOTO: REUTERS

GRENOBLE (AFP) - A camera fixed to the ski helmet of Michael Schumacher is being inspected by investigators probing the accident that has left the German retired racing legend comatose in a French hospital with critical head injuries.

A source close to French authorities handling the investigation disclosed the existence of the camera late Friday. The source said it had been taken to see if it can yield any clues as to the circumstances of the accident.

Schumacher's 14-year-old son Mick, who was skiing with his father at the time, was also being questioned by investigators, the source said, confirming information reported by the French newspaper Dauphine Libere.

The developments in the probe came the day Mr Schumacher turned 45 while still in an induced coma in a hospital in the French Alpine city of Grenoble after his December 29 accident.

Fans marked the birthday with a silent vigil outside the facility, part of which was organised by Ferrari, Schumacher's former team.

French authorities are examining various factors in the ski accident, in which Mr Schumacher's head hit a rock so hard his helmet was split in two. Although he was conscious when airlifted from the unmarked run in the upmarket Meribel resort, where he owns a property, Mr Schumacher was agitated and apparently uncoordinated and soon fell into a coma, prompting his transfer to Grenoble hospital.

He has undergone two operations to remove blood and pressure from his brain. His manager said in the last update on Wednesday that he remains in a critical but stable condition. His family is at his bedside, including his wife Corinna, his two teenage children, his father Rolf and brother Ralph, who is also a racing driver.

The accident has shocked legions of fans used to seeing the seven-time Formula One world champion cheat death on the race track. Some of them went to Grenoble on Friday to mark Schumacher's birthday and offer teary support.

Questions have emerged over exactly how the accident happened on a small, seemingly innocuous off-piste section of Meribel located between two ski slopes - one classed as easy and the other as intermediate.

Prosecutors are looking at whether the limits of the pistes next to the accident site were correctly marked, and whether the safety releases on Schumacher's skis operated properly.

There have also been conflicting statements about the speed Schumacher was going when he crashed. Mr Schumacher, who made his debut in 1991, dominated Formula One during his career, winning more world titles and races than any other driver.

He first retired aged 37 but was unable to resist the lure of the track. In 2010, he came out of retirement but was unable to recover his previous performance and quit for good in 2012.