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What happened to Zac?

The 21-year-old was left fighting for his life after falling from a moving car – family and police want answers.



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Featherston’s Zac Brewer has a long road to recovery ahead of him.

The 21-year-old cracked his skull when he came out of a moving vehicle, tumbling about 30m along Fitzherbert St in the town on February 26.

A police investigation was launched after the event, which happened on a Monday, at 6.50pm.

They are still trying to confirm how Zac came to “exit” that vehicle, and what took place prior.

Due to his injuries, Zac has been unable to shed light on the situation.

While conscious immediately after the incident, he quickly slid downhill and his parents were told shortly after to prepare for the worst.

“He was sitting on the fence for six or seven days, but it could’ve gone either way,” Hadley Brewer, Zac’s father, told the Times-Age yesterday.

“We were preparing for the worst but hoping for the best.”

Zac suffered serious head injuries and was transferred to Wellington Hospital’s intensive care unit, where he remained in a critical condition, in an induced coma, for seven days.

Trauma to the head caused a brain swell.

“He had two pieces of his skull removed and that was basically his final chance.

“If that hadn’t worked, there was really nothing they could have done,” Mr Brewer said.

Zac Brewer nearly died in an incident that police are still trying to get to the bottom of. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
Zac Brewer nearly died in an incident that police are still trying to get to the bottom of. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Almost four weeks later, his family can take solace in the fact that Zac is on the mend.

But he’s in for a slow recovery, with doctors saying he faces up to four more months of treatment.

“The part of his brain that was affected was his frontal lobe, which is your personality and your emotions.

“He had quite a decent crack across the front of his skull, and also up the line that our skulls naturally form on, so they say that may affect his personality.”

As a result of the brain injury, Zac’s ability to reason has diminished, and he’s now aggressive at times, which is a common side effect, doctors say.

“He’s certainly not himself,” Mr Brewer said.

It was too soon to say whether Zac, who attended Featherston School and Kuranui College, would make a full recovery.

“But he’s walking, he’s talking, he’s got motor function, so at the moment we’re just happy he’s not dead and he’s not in a wheelchair — he got a chance of having a reasonably normal life.”

Police have been using extensive CCTV footage from cameras placed throughout Featherston to piece together what happened that day.

They have spoken to a number of people known to have been with Zac before the incident, but no two accounts have been the same.

Detective Sergeant Mike Smith said emergency services were initially called out to what was believed to be a hit and run, but this scenario had since been ruled out.

“Both police and the family have been bombarded with rumours and speculation about what happened to Zac, which included an allegation that Zac had been assaulted with a weapon.”

Police are trying to determine whether this occurred, or if the extent of his injuries was solely the result of leaving the moving vehicle.

Moments before Zac was found on the road, police received reports of a blue car crashing into a roadside barrier, at the southern end of Featherston.

“Witnesses saw that car speed off . . . police have discovered that it was Zac’s car, but not driven by him.

“Reports were that a female was driving.

“[But] we can confidently say that the vehicle involved in Zac’s injuries was not his car.”

Mr Smith thanked members of the public that rushed to Zac’s aid, put him into the recovery position, and waited with him until medics arrived.

He encourages anyone with information to come forward to police.

“There has been reluctance, for whatever reason, but for the sake of Zac and his family, we want to get to the bottom of this.”

Mr Brewer thanked staff at Wellington Hospital, Ronald McDonald House, and Whanau Care Services, who were “absolutely brilliant”.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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