Looking back over the top moments of 2014, and we couldn't help but recall Michael Schumacher's skiing accident, but more importantly his trip home and further progress.
One of the biggest motorsports stories of 2013 didn’t occur until two days before the end of the year. On December 29, Michael Schumacher, skiing in France with his family in the French Alps, fell and hit his head on a rock. Despite the fact he was wearing a helmet, he suffered a traumatic brain injury.
The seven-time Formula One champion was rushed to the hospital in Grenoble, where doctors put him into a medically-induced coma. What little news leaked for the next two months was so grim that every major news outlet was readying an obituary.
It was not until March 7 that the news suggested Schumacher would live, but there was little doubt his condition was still grave. A month later, his agent, Sabine Kehm, who had become the de facto family spokesperson, said he was being taken out of the induced coma. In June, Schumacher finally left the hospital in Grenoble for a rehabilitation facility in Switzerland.
And in September, the 45-year-old son of a bricklayer went home to his mansion on Lake Geneva. And since, what little news has surfaced of his condition is sad. Former F1 racer Philippe Streiff, himself a quadriplegic since a testing crash in his AGS in Rio de Janeiro in 1989, visited Schumacher, and in November reported that Schumacher “is getting better, but everything is relative. It’s very difficult. He can’t speak. Like me, he is in a wheelchair, paralyzed. He has memory problems and speech problems.”
Last summer, an ultimately tragic ancillary story surfaced when a helicopter ambulance transport employee was charged with stealing, then trying to sell to the media, Schumacher’s medical records for $100,000. The 54-year old German suspect hung himself in his jail cell in Zurich one day after his arrest.
The irony that Schumacher survived 308 F1 races to be felled on a docile family ski outing is lost on no one, and while the driver could be less than a sympathetic figure on the track, in retirement he was a charismatic family man who donated millions to charity, and seemed destined to become a beloved elder statesman on the same level as, say, Jackie Stewart and Stirling Moss.
There is one bit of positive news, though: Schumacher’s 15-year-old son, Mick, apparently had a “secret” December test in Spain in a Formula 4 car. And he is, said the team owner, “certainly talented.”