Supriya still recovering
Police still on hunt for driver
Supriya Tikaram has no memory of what hit her.
What she does know has been gleaned from friends and witnesses. She had been spending Friday evening with friends in Taupo¯ and they decided to walk along to a local pub for a few drinks.
At about 11pm, everybody headed off. Supriya, 36, and two men were walking along Richmond Ave and as she stepped off the edge of the kerb preparing to cross the road, a white ute came around the corner from Ingle Ave. The ute appeared to swerve towards her and hit her left leg. Supriya was thrown into the air and landed on the ute, hard. She bounced off and landed on the grass berm. The ute sped off.
Supriya doesn’t remember any of this, but says her companions have told her because they were standing in front of her, they didn’t see the ute go past, but heard a loud bang as it hit her.
“They were really traumatised, poor guys. One of them has got in touch with me saying they’ve been having nightmares, which is really sad.”
Supriya’s left leg was shattered from the knee down. Her face had split open where she had landed on the ute, crushing the tissue beneath, breaking the teeth on her left side. She had a severe head injury, with brain bleeding and swelling.
She was rushed by helicopter to Waikato Hospital in a critical condition. Her face was stitched back together and she underwent two operations. She spent a week in an induced coma in the intensive care unit where her heart stopped and she had to be resuscitated.
Her brother, sister and parents were all at her bedside. Supriya says in her few moments of consciousness she does remember being “super-aggressive and angry” because she had no understanding of what was happening to her.
“Apparently I had a real potty mouth and I was flirting will all the male doctors and nurses,” Supriya says. “But my brother walked into the room [one day] and I said his name straight away so that was the first stage. I recognised everyone that came to visit.”
She says when she was well enough to understand what had happened to her, she was shocked to know she had been hit, apparently intentionally.
From ICU, Supriya was moved to the hospital’s high dependency unit, and from there to a ward. She was in hospital for five weeks and then was discharged to ABI Rehabilitation in Auckland, which provides care for victims of traumatic brain injury and stroke.
Supriya says while she suffered post-traumatic amnesia, she has regained her memory over time.
At ABI there were activities to help Supriya recover, including physiotherapy and arts and crafts, her sister visited every day and she also had friends in the city from her time living there.
At home, her community had not forgotten her. Supriya was raised and educated in Taupo¯ , and though she had left after high school to pursue a career as a flight attendant, she had been back in the town for several years, including a job as animal care coordinator at the Taupo¯ SPCA.
Locals, friends and family contributed to a GoFundMe appeal to help with Supriya’s rehabilitation and recovery costs, with $13,077 donated.
Taupo¯ Police were also searching for the white ute involved and despite appeals to the public and a segment on television programme Police Ten7, nobody came forward.
Supriya returned to Taupo¯ last month and is living at her parents’ home while she recovers. She can get around with a moon boot and crutches or a walking frame, but has to use a wheelchair outside the house.
She can’t drive for six months because of the brain injury. She has a metal pin holding her tibia together and a frame in her heel, to which surgeons pinned all the bone fragments. A scar runs down the left side of her forehead and face and she has lost the feeling in
her forehead and head.
She’s looking forward to physiotherapy and exercises to bring movement back into her ankle, as well as trips to the pool to build up her strength.
“My birthday is next month on Labour Day and my goal is to be walking by then.”
Before her accident Supriya was planning to travel to America, where she has family, and once she is through her recovery, that is still her plan, preferably to work with animals.
The GoFundMe money will be used for her recovery and Supriya says she is touched that so many people contributed.
“It’s just amazing the amount of people that were worried about me. I was overwhelmed.”
She hopes the police can eventually track down the driver responsible. I would hate for them to do it again . . . it’s pretty appalling because I wasn’t even on the road. They must have been going pretty fast because the impact speed was quite bad.”
Supriya says she feels almost as though she’s been given a second chance to live a better life and it was a sobering experience seeing other people at ABI Rehabilitation who were struggling to recover from serious brain injuries.
Taupo¯ Police were asked for comment but would only say that they were following “a positive line of inquiry” and as the case is an active investigation they were unable to provide any other details.
Supriya Tikaram is home in Taupo¯ recovering from serious injuries sustained in a hit-and-run accident in June.