In a major revelation that may question France’s “excellent” emergency services, retired lawyer Stanlee Culbreath broke his two-decade-long silence pertaining to Princess Diana’s fatal accident to claim that “other forces” were behind it.
Critically questioning the French emergency services, Mr. Culbreath said that Diana’s chances of survival were greatly reduced by the emergency service delays. One of the first witnesses to the tragic crash, Culbreath says it was out of respect for the young Harry and William that he had remained quiet for so long.
I always thought it was suspicious, that other forces played a hand, but now, 20 years on, I question more than ever whether it was a genuine accident. I just think it is dubious.
If that’s the Princess, why did it take 20 minutes or so to get to her and, when she was finally released [from the car], why did they pass one hospital and take her to another?
Culbreath further recalls telling a friend at that point of time, though completely unaware of the fact that Diana was the victim:
Damn, a junkie on Main Street would get waited on quicker than this”
And later added:
There are so many questions I ask myself over and over again about how the accident was handled and if she could have been saved.
I pleaded for the police to help, but they were very nonchalant about the entire thing.
Mr. Culbreath belongs to Columbus, Ohio, and had been in Paris on August 31, 1997, with his friends Clarence Williams and Michael Walker as a part of a European tour. In fact, they were on a late-night sight-seeing tour of the Eiffel Tower when the tragedy occurred. It was on their way back to the hotel in a taxi at around 12:20 am that they entered the Pont de l’Alma tunnel and were confronted with the smoldering wreckage of the princess’s car.
Recalling that their taxi stopped a few feet from the limo, Culbreath recalls:
He (the taxi driver) explained France has a Good Samaritan law and it was our duty to stop and help. We got out only a few feet away from their Mercedes. The car was up on the wall and the front passenger door was already open.
At that point of time, the passengers’ identities (Princess Diana, 36, her lover Dodi Fayed, 42, driver Henri Paul, 41, and bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones – the only survivor as well as the only one to wear the seatbelt) were unknown to all four of them.
Mr. Culbreath further recalled:
We hadn’t heard the bang, as the crash happened just as we got into the tunnel. Their car was smoking, the muffler [from the exhaust] was on the floor.
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I went over and Trevor Rees-Jones had his legs out of the car and was holding a towel or something to his nose, as he was bleeding heavily.
There were only four or five of us there, so I went over to the car and looked into it to see if we could help.
Unknown to his friends and him, Princess Diana was in the rear seat injured with Dodi Fayed, who was already dead:
I didn’t know who was in the back until later but at one point I was… a few inches away from the Princess trying to look through her window.
He further recalls:
I remember saying to the guys at the time, ‘Is there an ambulance coming or something?’ as there was no sign of one arriving….There was only one cop there I could see who told us to get back. He kept saying, ‘Get away, get away’. As the window’s in the rear were dark, I could not see who was the in the back. I was pleading with the officer to open the door… it looked like it could be pulled open. He wasn’t doing sh*t. He wasn’t doing anything. It was as if those there had decided nothing could be done. It’s just my opinion, but it took them a long time to get her out. It could have been up to 30 minutes before help came…..My recollection was that there seemed to be an insurmountable amount time for an emergency vehicle to respond.
Talking further Culbreath thinks Diana’s chances of survival were critically lessened by the callous attitude of the emergency services, which arrived way after the expected time:
It’s common sense that the longer someone is left, their chances of survival are less.
“When we left, there still wasn’t an ambulance. The speed of which they responded was inadequate. Questions need to be asked.
Incidentally, the prolonged 18-month inquiry into the accident by France determined that the crash was caused by driver Henri Paul, who was drunk during the accident and was speeding at 65 mph. However, during the 2007 inquest, it was revealed that it took an hour and six minutes for Diana to be taken from the wrecked car to the hospital and it was indeed the lack of effort from the French emergency services that caused the princess’ death.
Culbreath thereafter revealed that when the car was taken out of the tunnel on the lorry, a part of it was completely shattered. However, it was on the other side that Diana was sitting:
When the car eventually came out of the tunnel on a lorry it was as big as a pancake, but when I saw it, one side wasn’t. It was the side the Princess was on. I later learned the ‘jaws of life’ were used. Why didn’t they just open the door.
She wasn’t dead, she was talking.
Interestingly, Mr. Culbreath, who was not called during the inquest held in 2007 but provided a statement, said he chose to keep quiet for the sake of Diana’s sons who were of the same age as his:
My children were the same age as Prince William and Prince Harry at the time. I never to spoke to anyone, as I wanted to protect them all.
Reflecting on the Princess of Wales, Culbreath added:
I thought Diana was a great person. She was always there for people and dedicated herself to the common purpose. She was always there for people in their hour of need, for the common man – but when her hour came, it seemed the response was sadly lacking.