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Atlas F1 News Service, a Reuters report
Coulthard's Crash: the Full Story and Quotes

Tuesday May 2nd, 2000

Coulthard's plane after the crashBritish Formula One driver David Coulthard miraculously walked away from the wreckage of a private jet in which the pilot and co-pilot died when it crashed in central France on Tuesday.

Coulthard, his American fiancee Heidi Wichlinski and personal trainer Andy Matthews escaped with nothing worse than bruises when the Lear Jet in which they were travelling from England developed engine trouble, crash-landed and burst into flames.

After the jet smashed into the ground, the front section exploded killing the two pilots. But the rear was left largely intact, giving Coulthard time to climb from the plane unaided, followed by his two companions.

After a visit to Lyon's main Edouard Herriot hospital, Coulthard and his companions were released at 1620 GMT and drove to his home in Monte Carlo by car.

"Obviously I am relieved that Heidi, Andy and myself are unhurt but I would like to express my deepest sympathy to the families of the two pilots," Coulthard was quoted as saying in a statement from his British-based McLaren team.

"It is inappropriate for me to go into details of the accident but we were very lucky to walk away."

Will Drive in Spain

David Coulthard in Britain last weekCoulthard, 29, winner of seven of his 94 Grands Prix in a career which has seen him break his leg in Formula Vauxhall and knocked unconscious while racing for Williams in 1995, intends to take part in this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix.

Winner of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone last month, Coulthard is second in the Formula One world championship.

McLaren spokeswoman Anna Guerrier said they expected him to drive in Spain, and the Scotsman's personal manager said he could not envisage Coulthard missing the weekend race.

"He would only stop if he had been injured and could not get over it," his personal manager Iain Cunningham said. "I don't think that is what has happened."

The plane had taken off from Farnborough, Hampshire, in southern England, heading for Nice when the pilot requested an emergency landing because of engine trouble, airport sources said.

"I've spoken to David and he said simply that the plane crashed and that he, Heidi and Andy had got out alright, but he was aware of the fact that the pilots had not escaped. He said they had gone to hospital for a check-up but they were only bruised," Cunnigham said.

Lucky to be Alive

Jacques Bellissen, Lyon-Satolas airport general manager, said Coulthard should thank his lucky stars he is alive.

"For all three passengers to be unharmed, without any burns or scratches, they must have been born under a lucky star. It's a miracle," he said. "What saved them was that Coulthard was quick enough to leave the plane before it caught fire."

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