As his 45th birthday dawned Friday, about 100 fans of Michael Schumacher gathered for a vigil for the former Formula One driver, who remains in a medically induced coma after striking his head on a rock in a skiing accident Sunday.
About 100 fans traveled from Italy and northern France to the Grenoble, France, hospital where Schumacher is in critical but stable condition after undergoing procedures to relieve intercranial pressure and to remove a hematoma in his brain. “With all the joy he has given us, it was important for us to return the favor and be here for Michael,” Gulio Carissomi, who drove four hours from Italy, told the Associated Press.
One group of fans unfurled a large banner for Scuderia Ferrari, the racing team for whom the German driver won five of his record seven F1 titles, and Ferrari, in a statement urging fans to join the vigil and to be “silent and respectful” on Facebook, wrote on its website: “Today is Michel Schumacher’s birthday. In these hours he’s on the most important race of his life and we want to dedicate a special honor to him. Forza (Come on) Michael!”
Schumacher’s accident has prompted an outpouring of support, from German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Arsenal.
Schumacher’s father and brother have joined his wife Corinna and teenage children at his bedside. Mick, his 14-year-old son, was with him when he fell at Meribel, the French resort, on Sunday. “They have the possibility to see him and be close to him so that is nice,” his agent, Sabine Kehm, said Thursday. “There is always someone with him.”
Doctors have declined to offer a prognosis for Schumacher, whose condition Kehm called critical but stable. On Thursday, Schumacher’s family posted a statement of thanks on his website Thursday:
“Following Michael’s skiing accident, we would like to thank the people from all around the world who have expressed their sympathy and sent their best wishes for his recovery. They are giving us great support. We all know he is a fighter and will not give up. Thank you.”