Alex Constantine - October 15, 2007
James Orr and agencies
October 15, 2007
A motorist who witnessed the crash that killed Diana, Princess of Wales, today told how he had seen a "major white flash" moments before the tragedy.
Francois Levistre was driving in front of the Mercedes carrying the princess when the fatal collision happened in the Alma underpass in Paris.
Speaking by video link at the inquest into the deaths of Diana and her lover, Dodi Fayed, Mr Levistre described how a motorbike had overtaken the princess's car in the tunnel.
He told the jury he had then seen a very bright flash, which had been directed at the Mercedes.
Speaking through a translator, Mr Levistre said: "I realised there was this major white flash of the motorbike in front of the Mercedes, in front of the car.
"I was nearly at the exit of the tunnel and I realised that because I heard the noise of the motorbike within the tunnel."
Mr Levistre said the brightness of the flash was like when someone switches "on the lights and you can see clearly".
"I just wondered what happened, because the light was like you were caught by the police in a radar," he added.
Ian Burnett QC, counsel for the inquiry, asked: "This flash was very bright?" Mr Levistre replied: "Very. The light even came into my car."
He said: "The light was not directed towards me. It was directed towards the car which was behind."
The witness, who saw the events unfold in his rear view mirror, said the Mercedes had veered from side to side before crashing.
"When I saw the light, I looked into the mirror ... I saw the car going from left to right to left again to get within the pillar," he said.
"The car had no light any longer. Everything was switched off."
Mr Levistre also told how he had stopped near the exit from the Pont de l'Alma tunnel following the accident in August 1997.
He saw the motorcycle passenger get off the motorbike, approach the car, and then gesture to the bike's driver before climbing back on and driving off. Mr Levistre told the jury, sitting at the high court in London, that the bike's occupants looked at him before passing his car and leaving the underpass.
He also said he saw a small white car in the tunnel, but maintained that there was no contact between this and the Mercedes.
The hearing continues.