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Local Focus: Masterton biker’s move to mobility scooter

Jamie Chapman on his customised mobility scooter, Masterton PHOTO/PATRICK O’SULLIVAN

It may not be a Harley Davidson, but 60yr old Masterton local Jamie Chapman’s custom wheels have been life changing.

“I should have died on the road, but I didn’t,” Chapman says.

In 2004, Jamie narrowly avoided death when he crashed his motorcycle just outside of Eketahuna.

“I ran into this lady at 106 kilometres on the highway. She was doing 20. And when I discovered she was in front of me, I had five metres, and you can’t pull up at five metres at 106.”

Jamie’s injuries were serious, with head trauma causing memory loss, damage to his eyesight and a lack of mobility requiring months of rehabilitation.

He even doubted his wife, Clare,  would stay with him.

“It’s been very hard. You have no idea what a traumatic brain injury entails. Even though they are still that same person, they’re not really that same person,” Clare says.

“When I woke up out of my coma and could make sense I said to my wife I said, if you want to go you can go. I’ll be devastated, but you can go. And she elected to stay and I thought woo-hoo! Yee-hah! Because it’s been a journey, coping with my inabilities. Because I forget a lot, I’m unstable,” Chapman says.

Today, Jamie lives apart from his family in the Wairarapa Village where he keeps busy by reading and teaching himself guitar.

“I live in the hospital side so they can watch me keep an eye on me. Because when I had my last seizure, I was out for about, 15 hours, it was probably a bit long. But I don’t know, because I don’t remember.”

Although Jamie’s beloved Harley Davidson is now history, today he turns heads cruising around town on his custom trych wheels.

“Spike services it and I’ve got no worries about servicing.”

“Mobility scooters. They make me look older than I am. I wanted this because it looks like a motorcycle.”

While Jamie will never ride a motorbike again, he still finds ways to push the limits on wheels.

“Once I get a bit of speed up, I can pick my feet up and my wife hates it. Yeah, because apparently I’m dangerous!” Jamie laughs.


Ellie Franco
Ellie Franco
Ellie Franco is Wairarapa’s Local Focus video journalist. She regularly covers in-depth stories on arts, culture, people, health, and the occasional pup.

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