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Frenchman Who Drove Diana Is Buried in His Home Town

By Deborah Seward
Associated Press
Sunday, September 21, 1997; Page A26

LORIENT, France, Sept. 20—Friends and family said goodbye today to Henri Paul, the Ritz Hotel assistant security director who was driving the car in the crash that killed him, Princess Diana and her friend Dodi Fayed.

Police held back hundreds of onlookers outside the church in Paul's home town, Lorient, in western France, as 300 friends and relatives mourned inside. The 50-minute ceremony included testimony from friends who frequently have defended Paul as a kind person and responsible airplane pilot, one of his hobbies. Traces of antidepressants and three times France's legal level of alcohol were found in Paul's blood following the crash.

A dozen large wreaths covered the altar of St. Theresa's Roman Catholic church and the simple wooden coffin, including one of white gladiolas with a sign that read, "Your friends are not fooled."

Paul's funeral originally was scheduled to take place on Sept. 6, the same day Diana was buried in England, but it was postponed for more blood tests.

The Rev. Leon Theraud, who led the service at the gray granite church in a working-class district of this military and fishing port, said Paul will be remembered for his "humanity, openness and generosity."

Paul was buried in a 20-minute ceremony at a cramped cemetery about a half-mile from the church and not far from his childhood home. The interment was attended by about 50 people, including Paul's parents, brothers, nieces, nephews and a contingent of security men from the Ritz.

His father, Jean Paul, overcome with emotion, had to be supported by Paul's mother, Giselle.

Among those who attended the funeral were friends from a nearby flying club, the owner of a bowling alley at a local beach Paul frequented and former classmates. Paul's friends in Lorient -- where the 41-year-old bachelor often returned from Paris on weekends to fly airplanes, ride motorcycles or bowl -- say he wasn't a drinker and that he wasn't depressed.

Among the important factors in the inquiry into the Aug. 31 accident, besides Paul's condition, are the speed at which he was traveling, the role of photographers trailing the car and the possibility that a second car was involved.

Bodyguard Trevor Rees Jones, who survived the crash, reportedly told a French judge Friday that Paul "seemed fine" just before the accident. It could be months before French authorities complete their investigation.

© Copyright 1997 The Associated Press

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