LONDON _ The only survivor of the crash that killed Princess Diana slowly is recovering his memory, a newspaper said today, quoting him as saying he now recalls the dying Diana calling out the name of her dead lover.
For six months, bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones remembered little about the events immediately before and after the Aug. 31 car crash in Paris. With the help of a psychiatrist, he now is piecing together recollections, The Mirror newspaper said.
"I have had flashes of a female voice calling out in the back of the car," the newspaper quoted Rees-Jones as saying, in what would be his most extensive public comment to date.
"First, it's a groan. Then Dodi's name is called. It could only have been Princess Diana. I was conscious, and so was she," Rees-Jones reportedly told the newspaper.
In November, Frederic Mailliez, the French doctor who treated Diana first, said she had been semiconscious and muttering, and did not say "anything precise."
The British royal family, Diana's relatives and politicians have been skeptical of claims that she was aware of the crash, and have criticized veiled allegations of conspiracy raised by Mohamed al Fayed, who was the father of Diana's companion, Dodi Fayed, and the employer of Rees-Jones.
Rees-Jones, who was sitting in the car's front passenger seat, told The Mirror he was conscious immediately after the Mercedes hit the side of the Pont de L'Alma tunnel.
"As far as I consider, there were only two people conscious in the vehicle," Rees-Jones said. "Princess Diana was the other one who was conscious. Unfortunately, the other two people were dead."
Diana died later in Paris' Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital.
Rees-Jones said that chauffeur Henri Paul did not appear to have been drinking. Blood tests later showed Paul was intoxicated.
"People can come up with all sorts of theories and opinions after the event. But I know exactly what happened because I was there. I can state quite categorically that he was not a hopeless drunk as some have tried to suggest," Rees-Jones said. "If he had shown any signs of being drunk, I would never have let him near our car."
Rees-Jones also reportedly said he remembers two cars and a motorbike chasing the Mercedes after it left the Ritz Holtel in Paris.
One of the cars was a white hatchback. The paper said that was similar to a Fiat thought to have been involved in the crash.
Rees-Jones was seriously injured. For several months afterward he remembered nothing about the crash but said that under psychiatric treatment, his memory had improved.
"To start with, I couldn't remember a thing, and doctors weren't sure if I would ever remember. I had amnesia, everything was just a blank," he said. "I am starting to remember more and more."
Herve Stephan, the French judge investigating the crash, will question Rees-Jones in Paris in the coming weeks in the hope that he might shed new light on the accident, the bodyguard's lawyer, Christian Curtil, said today.
In September, Britain's editors introduced a new code of conduct, reacting to the uproar over press intrusion into Diana's life.
The Mirror justified its story today on grounds of public interest, although it is likely to bring complaints the newspaper is continuing to delve into Diana's life, regardless of the possible effect on Diana's relatives and her children, Princes William and Harry.
The Sunday Telegraph, a broadsheet newspaper that has been highly critical of the tabloid coverage of Princess Diana, said Rees-Jones' interview with The Mirror had been arranged by Mohamed al Fayed.
Al Fayed, who owns the Ritz Hotel in Paris and Harrods department store in London, also gave a lengthy interview to The Mirror on Feb. 12 saying he was "99.9 percent certain" the crash was part of a conspiracy and that Diana and Dodi were engaged. He also produced a new version of her "last words."
He has offered no evidence to support his claims.
Today's Independent questioned whether Rees-Jones' recovered memories could be accurate because his medical and psychiatric treatment had been paid for by Al Fayed.
Also today, lawyers said that Diana left an estate worth $35.6 million. The bulk of the $21 million remaining after taxes will go to her two sons, the lawyers say.