"As a firefighter, he says it was an ordinary road accident… What made it extraordinary was the person involved, the world’s most famous woman he tried so desperately to save," one of his interviewers said.
At first, he thought he was at the scene of just another car crash. But eventually, firefighter, Xavier Gourmelon realized that the woman he was trying to save was one of the most loved and admired women to have ever been a part of the British royal family.
After his 22 years of service as a Paris firefighter came to an end, Xavier Gourmelon finally opened up about what happened that August night in 1997. Even though it was from decades ago, it's a night that's etched into his memory. According to Mirror, he said, "...the whole episode is still very much in my mind. And the memory of that night will stay with me forever."
"We were very close to there and it took less than three minutes to reach it," the father of two told The Sun. "My ten-man team was in two trucks and we were first to arrive."
The Mercedes car was completely wrecked after it crashed inside the Pont de l’Alma tunnel.
"When I got to the car I could see the driver was already dead and there was nothing that could be done for him. Mr Fayed was in the back and in a bad condition, he had a cardiac arrest in the car and when he was taken out he was declared dead by a paramedic," Xavier Gourmelon said. "The bodyguard in the front was conscious, but he was trapped and had very severe facial injuries."
He said, "The car was in a mess and we just dealt with it like any road accident. We got straight to work to see who needed help and who was alive." And that's when he heard Princess Diana's last words.
"Diana said to me, 'My God, what’s happened?'" Xavier Gourmelon said. "The woman, who I later found out was Princess Diana, was on the floor in the back. She was moving very slightly and I could see she was alive. I could see she had a slight injury to her right shoulder but, other than that, there was nothing significant."
"There was no blood on her at all."
In an interview with ITV’s 'Good Morning Britain', International Business Times quoted him saying, "We took her out of a car, put her on a stretcher. At that moment the doctor said she was in cardiac arrest so we gave her CPR, and after 20 seconds she regained consciousness."
Xavier Gourmelon did everything he could to save her and even thought that she would make it.
"I held her hand and told her to be calm and keep still, I said I was there to help and reassured her. She said, ‘My God, what’s happened?’" he went on to say. "I gave her some oxygen and my team and I stayed by her side as she was taken out of the car. It was very quick because we didn’t have to cut any of the wreckage."
He could see that she was having a cardiac arrest and had stopped breathing. The former firefighter said, "I massaged her heart and a few seconds later she started breathing again. It was a relief of course because, as a first responder, you want to save lives — and that’s what I thought I had done."
But he was shocked when he later found out that she passed away in the hospital. "To be honest I thought she would live. As far as I knew when she was in the ambulance she was alive and I expected her to live. But I found out later she had died in hospital. It was very upsetting."
The Good Morning Britain interviewer said, "As a firefighter, he says it was an ordinary road accident… What made it extraordinary was the person involved, the world’s most famous woman he tried so desperately to save."
The face of Xavier Gourmelon was one of the last faces that Princess Diana saw and possibly said her final words to. Every time that he sees the calendar turn to August 31, the anniversary of the day the People's Princess was pronounced dead, his mind runs back to the day he held her hand and tried to save her. Xavier Gourmelon said, "I can still picture the whole scene. It’s something I’ll never forget and that I always think about at this time of year."