Nick Vermeulen keeps a helmet handy, having suffered serious head injuries in a ''car-surfing'' incident in Mosgiel last November. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
Every time Nick Vermeulen looks in the mirror, the
consequences of his actions are reflected in the asymmetry of
The 26-year-old Mosgiel resident is still recovering from the
serious injuries he sustained while ''car-surfing'' after the
Melbourne Cup Race Day at Wingatui on November 6 last year.
Although Mr Vermeulen can feel the left side of his face, his
slackened muscles will take about seven months to return to
''I guess that's good in a way because it teaches me a lesson
every day, when I see my face is still not right. Don't stand
on the roof of a car while it's going around a corner - don't
stand on the roof of a car full stop.''
Mr Vermeulen said he was drinking alcohol with friends at the
racecourse before he got them all ''kicked out'' for lighting
''I thought it was a good idea at the time. It wasn't.''
A sober friend drove them to the Mosgiel Tavern, and it was
in a nearby back street Mr Vermeulen decided to ''surf'' on
the roof of the car as it was going about 50kmh.
He fell off when the vehicle went around a corner, fracturing
his skull plus breaking his collarbone and four ribs.
Mr Vermeulen was in an induced coma for about 30 hours, then
spent two weeks in Dunedin Hospital and two weeks in the Isis
Centre at Wakari Hospital before being discharged on December
He could only remember half an hour of the morning of
November 6, and about 15 minutes of being in the tavern.
''Doctors say I will never remember anything more from that
Mr Vermeulen hopes to return to work as a builder next month,
if he is given the ''all-clear'' by doctors and occupational
''They say my recovery has gone extremely well, that I should
have been in a wheelchair. When I went to Isis they expected
me to be a vegetable, to do nothing.''
He warned others about behaving recklessly, and had come to
appreciate the importance of wearing protective head gear.
''I was lucky. I still can't sleep. I have to take sleeping
He was barred from playing contact sports for about two years
to protect his brain and allow it to fully recover.
It was the third time Mr Vermeulen had faced serious injury.
About five years ago, he was hit by a truck and trailer while
walking in Dukes Rd, and about three years ago he fell about
8m down a cliff at Tomahawk while rock climbing.
''I had nine lives, but I don't have nine now. They're
Mr Vermeulen said the driver of the vehicle on which he was
standing had been charged with reckless driving causing
injury, although he took ''full responsibility'' for the