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The 2 Words a Top Pathologist Is Now Using for Diana's Death

'If only' tiny tear in her vein had been elsewhere, she may have lived: Dr. Richard Shepherd
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 8, 2019 8:24 AM CDT
In this July 22, 1997, file photo, Princess Diana, German fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, and British pop star Elton John attend the memorial mass for Gianni Versace in Milan, Italy.   (AP Photo/Luca Bruno, File)

(Newser) – "If only." Those are the two words Britain's top forensic pathologist is now saying about the 1997 car crash that claimed Princess Diana's life. That's because Dr. Richard Shepherd, who the Daily Beast notes has performed more than 23,000 post-mortems, lent his expertise to the British police for an inquiry into the princess' death and is now coming forward with an interesting claim: that the injury Diana suffered in the accident was actually a minor one, and that the only reason it killed her was that it happened "in the wrong place." Shepherd's assessment in his book, Unnatural Causes, which has been excerpted by the Daily Mail, notes that Diana suffered a "few broken bones" in the Paris collision, but it was a "tiny tear" in one of her veins that proved fatal—a "specific injury ... so rare that in my entire career I don't believe I've seen another."

That's because veins bleed out much more slowly than arteries, which could explain why Diana was reportedly still conscious immediately after the accident. The problem was that the torn vein was buried deep in her chest, Shepherd says, meaning it simply wasn't discovered in time to save her. "If only she had hit the seat in front at a slightly different angle," Shepherd writes. "If only she had been thrown forward 10mph more slowly." And then, the one factor Shepherd says Diana actually could've controlled: "If only she had been wearing a seat belt. Had she been restrained, she would probably have appeared in public two days later with a black eye, perhaps a bit breathless from the fractured ribs and with a broken arm in a sling." More here from Shepherd. (Read more Princess Diana stories.)

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