Survivor’s plea to drink-drivers

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Still suffering: Mutsuko Morisue

The survivor of a horrific hit-and-run wants Queenstowners to keep one thought in their minds when considering drink-driving.

“I just want to send a message to them – you might hurt someone,” Mutsuko Morisue says.

“And it’s not only them.

“It’s the victim’s family, friends, and yourself, your family – you hurt everybody.”

Japanese Queenstowner Morisue, 42, was almost killed on March 3 when she was bowled by drink-driver Nicholas Catlin.

She woke up in Dunedin Hospital four days later.

“I still can’t remember anything about the accident, the day it happened or some time in the hospital.”

Fortunately, she was wearing a cycle helmet and an ambulance was close by.

After emergency brain surgery for a large bleed inside her skull, Morisue was put in a medically-induced coma for three days.

“I’m a survivor. I didn’t die. I haven’t been killed – that’s what I think about, that’s really good.”

The accident caused complex facial fractures, an eye injury and serious bruising to her lower body.

She spent two months in Dunedin Hospital and the city’s ISIS rehab centre. Her mum visited from Japan.

“I remember seeing her in Dunedin Hospital. I was so relieved but thought, ‘Oh, she is here because I am in a really bad condition’.”

Four months after the accident, Morisue’s blurred vision has gone and she’s hoping to return to work at The Rees Hotel soon.

But she still suffers dizziness, anxiety and tiredness. She can only read or watch TV in short bursts.

“I’m a survivor. I didn’t die. I haven’t been killed – that’s what I think about, that’s really good.”

Catlin, 33, left his car at the scene, got in a taxi and went home to bed.

He was sentenced to two years and four months’ imprisonment by Judge Bernadette Farnan at the district court a fortnight ago.

Morisue’s glad he was jailed – it’s “good education for others” – even though she might miss out on $5000 of the $7500 compensation he’s been ordered to pay.

Catlin’s likely to be deported on release.

His lawyer Liam Collins said in court he’d declared to NZ authorities his two previous drink-driving convictions in Britain.

Immigration NZ area boss Jock Gilray says all applicants must answer questions about character and sign a declaration.

Longer-term applicants must provide a police certificate.

Morisue, who’s been in NZ for six years and is sponsored to stay, worries she might not be allowed to stay.

“Maybe next time I apply for a visa they will say ‘no’.”

paul.taylor@scene.co.nz