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Althaus conscious and speaking after accident

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Althaus conscious and speaking after accident
A cross at the scene of the deadly accident. Photo: DPA
13:09 CET+01:00
Thuringia's state premier Dieter Althaus was successfully revived from his artificial coma on Saturday morning and is able to speak, after his life-threatening collision with another skier in Austria on New Year's Day.

“He is able to communicate and can move his arms and legs,” said Fried Dahmen, a spokesman for the Thuringian government, in a press conference in Erfurt on Saturday morning. Althaus, who is in hospital in the Austrian town Schwarzach, regained consciousness at around 8 am and has talked to his wife Katharina. “He was able to say his name and his birthday,” said Dahmen.

Hospital director Reinhard Lenzhofer added, “We have not seen any further deterioration in his condition on the CT. He can move his extremities spontaneously and on command.” Doctors believe that Althaus will make a full recovery, but could not estimate how long this would take. The next step will be to get him to say a few sentences and to eat and drink unassisted. His doctors expect he can be moved back to Thuringia some time during next week.

Althaus suffered serious brain injury on January 1 when he collided with another skier at an intersection between two slopes on a piste in the Obersteiermark area of Austria. The other skier, a 41-year-old Slovakian woman, died of her injuries on the way to hospital.

According to police, visibility was good at the time of the accident, and both skiers, described as experienced, had been travelling at a medium pace. Althaus, who initially remained conscious, requested that the woman be treated first, and was only examined later at the bottom of the slope, where the emergency medic was called. The state premier then lost consciousness during the helicopter journey to the nearest clinic, which was delayed by poor light.

The Ostthüringer Zeitung also reported that the Austrian state prosecutor of the town of Leoben has started a routine investigation against Althaus for involuntary manslaughter.

The newspaper quoted the prosecutor's spokesman Walter Plöbst as saying: “There was a collision that ended fatally. We are assuming that no third party was involved, so a investigation has begun against the survivor in order to secure him defendant's rights.”

The results of the autopsy on the Slovakian woman killed in the accident will be released on Monday.

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