Supriya still re­cov­er­ing

Po­lice still on hunt for driver

Taupo & Turangi Weekender - - FRONT PAGE - Lau­rilee McMichael

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.

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