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Prince Friso, Dutch Queen's Son, Life Remains In Danger After Skiing Accident

Prince Friso

GEORGE JAHN and TOBY STERLING   02/18/12 11:28 AM ET  AP

VIENNA — The second son of Dutch Queen Beatrix spent a stable night in the hospital after he was seriously injured in an avalanche, but his life remains in danger, the Netherlands government said Saturday.

Prince Johan Friso, 43, was rushed to the intensive care unit of Innsbruck's main hospital Friday after he was buried under snow. He had been skiing off marked trails in the westernmost Lech winter sports region.

The statement Saturday said "his life is still in danger, but he had a calm and stable night."

Hospital officials did not issue a statement on the prince's condition. But the usually well-informed Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad said the prince suffered serious oxygen deprivation.

The paper quoted Claudius Thome, head of neurosurgery at the hospital, as saying Friso did not suffer a skull fracture or any other external injuries.

The only serious problem appeared to be lack of oxygen, with Friso being buried for 20 minutes and the fact that the on-scene reanimation took "pretty long," he was quoted as saying.

Thome was quoted as saying that Friso's body temperature was only 32 degrees Celsius – about 90 degrees Fahrenheit – and that was "reasonably positive" because when temperatures are lower the body can make do with less oxygen.

Thome's remarks were reportedly made to the surgeon husband of Handelsblad reporter Jannetje Koelewijn. The paper said both were in Lech when the accident occured and later in Innsbruck.

After rushing to the hospital from Lech Friday, the queen and Friso's wife, Princess Mabel, paid another visit to the intensive care ward where Friso was being treated. Both women were dressed in black and wearing sunglasses. Mabel put her arm protectively around the queen's shoulders as the two passed a line of waiting journalists without saying anything.

The accident happened early Friday afternoon as the prince was on slopes away from the marked ski runs and laden with snow after weeks of record falls. His companion, an unidentified Austrian, escaped unhurt.

The Lech municipal office said a regional avalanche warning issued for the day was four on the five-point scale, meaning the danger was high.

Spokeswoman Pia Herbst of the Lech region tourist authority said rescuers found Friso through signals of an avalanche transceiver on his body.

Friso was in Lech along with other members of the royal family, whose members ski regularly there. The upscale resort area has also been a popular winter holiday destination for Tom Cruise, the late Princess Diana and other celebrities.

The second of Beatrix's three sons, Friso gave up any claim to the Dutch throne to marry Dutch commoner Mabel Wisse Smit, in 2004. The pair has two daughters, Luana and Zaria. He most recently worked as financial director at Urenco, the European uranium-enrichment consortium.

___

Sterling reported from Amsterdam. Michael Corder at the Hague, Netherlands, contributed to this report.

Loading Slideshow...
  • Dutch Queen Beatrix and her daughter in-law Princess Mabel, right, arrive at the hotel where the Dutch Royal family stay in Lech, western Austria, Saturday, Feb 18, 2012, the day after Beatrix 2nd son, Prince Johan Friso, was rushed to the intensive care unit of Innsbruck's main hospital after he was buried by an avalanche. (AP Photo/Dietmar Stiplovsek)

  • Dutch Queen Beatrix and her daughter in-law Princess Mabel, right, arrive at the hospital in Innsbruck, western Austria, Saturday, Feb 18, 2012, the day after Prince Johan Friso was rushed to the intensive care unit of Innsbruck's main hospital after he was buried by an avalanche. (AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson)

  • Dutch Queen Beatrix and her daughter in-law Princess Mabel, right, leave the hospital in Innsbruck, western Austria, Saturday, Feb 18, 2012, the day after Beatrix 2nd son, Prince Johan Friso, was rushed to the intensive care unit of Innsbruck's main hospital after he was buried by an avalanche. (AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson)

  • Dutch Queen Beatrix and her daughter in-law Princess Mabel, right, arrive at the hospital in Innsbruck, western Austria, Saturday, Feb 18, 2012, the day after Prince Johan Friso was rushed to the intensive care unit of Innsbruck's main hospital after he was buried by an avalanche. (AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson)

  • Outside view of Hotel Post in the skiing resort of Lech, western Austria, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2012, where the Dutch Royal family spend their winter holidays. Prince Johan Friso, the second son of Dutch Queen Beatrix, is being treated at the intensive care unit of a hospital in Innsbruck after an avalanche buried and seriously injured him while he skied off marked trails Friday in Lech. (AP Photo/Dietmar Stiplovsek)

  • View of the skiing resort of Lech, western Austria, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2012, where the Dutch Royal family spend their winter holidays. Prince Johan Friso, the second son of Dutch Queen Beatrix, is being treated at the intensive care unit of a hospital in Innsbruck after an avalanche buried and seriously injured him as he skied off marked trails Friday in Lech. (AP Photo/Dietmar Stiplovsek)

  • A sign shows the way to the university hospital in Innsbruck, western Austria, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2012. Prince Johan Friso, the second son of Dutch Queen Beatrix, is being treated at the intensive care unit of the hospital after an avalanche buried and seriously injured him while he skied off the trail Friday in the westernmost corner of Austria. (AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson)

  • In this Feb. 19, 2011 file photo Netherland's Prince Friso, left, and his wife Princess Mabel, right, pose with their daughters Luana and Zaria for photographers during a photo session in the Austrian skiing resort of Lech. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and the Austria Press Agency say Queen Beatrix's second son Friso of the Dutch royal family has been hit by an avalanche in Austria. Austrian news agency APA reported Friday Prince Friso was buried under snow for 15 minutes before he was rescued and taken to a hospital in Innsbruck. The agency gave no source for its information and had no immediate information on Friso's condition. (AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson, File)

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