This article is from the Formula One Motor Racing FAQ, by firstname.lastname@example.org (Mitchell McCann) with numerous contributions by others.
Frank Williams broke his neck in a car crash in France in 1986.
He was driving home from the Paul Ricard circuit, lost control
and turned the car over. The injury was so severe that he was
not expected to live, and only survived due to his excellent
fitness; he used to run half-marathons regularly. For a while it
was thought that he would be unable to swallow or breathe
unaided, but he regained more movement than expected. He is
paralysed from the chest down, with some limited movement in his
arms. Among all the other obvious limitations, this means that
he needs 24 hour care, cannot travel on commercial aircraft and
even finds speaking an effort. Consider this when you wonder why
he is rarely seen to smile.
Virginia Williams, Frank's wife, has written a book called 'A
Different Kind of Life' which describes their lives before and
after the accident, up to about 1990.