Althaus was neither drunk nor skiing too fast, which could have earned him up to three years in prison, spokesperson for the Loeben-based office Walter Ploebst said, adding that an investigation into possible involuntary manslaughter charges continues. Lesser charges could still mean up to a year in jail for the conservative politician, who remains hospitalised near Lake Constance after the January 1 accident in Austria.
The investigation has stalled because Althaus suffered serious brain injury when he collided with a 41-year-old Slovakian woman at an intersection between two slopes at the Obersteiermark ski area. The other skier died of her injuries on the way to hospital. Whiel she wasn't wearing head protection, doctors have said Althaus probably survived because he was wearing a helmet. But doctors aren't sure when Althaus will be fit for police questioning about the incident.
The media frenzy over the accident has dramatically increased the demand for helmets in recent weeks, ski safety equipment companies have reported. Many stores have said they are sold out for the season with no hope of resupply.