Michaela Brandl stunned a friend by expressing compassion
for her attacker.
One of the hitchhikers attacked after being picked up on
the West Coast tried to fight off the driver with a small
pocket knife, APNZ understands.
Michaela Brandl, 28, was stabbed three times in the carotid
artery on the side of her neck, and her Japanese-Dutch
companion, Niki Honda, suffered pelvic injuries.
Ms Brandl has told a friend from her hospital bed of how she
struggled to open the locked doors of the SUV of her
attacker, who police believe had already killed Christchurch
woman Amy Farrall, 24, the day before.
It's believed that the driver then tried to run over Ms
Honda, who had escaped from the moving vehicle.
"They're both very lucky. Things could've been a lot worse,"
a source told APNZ.
"One of the women used a small travel knife, with just a
small blade, to try and fight the guy off. She was pretty
Sina Saffari spoke to his friend Ms Brandl from her
Christchurch Hospital bed where she is recovering and is now
in a stable condition.
"[Ms Honda] had to jump out of the car that was moving, and
then all of a sudden the driver stopped and turned around,"
said Mr Saffari.
"Michaela thought maybe he was trying to run her [Ms Honda]
"She [Ms Brandl] was locked in the car, and she was screaming
and asking him to unlock the doors so she could get out."
Mr Saffari said Ms Brandl was traumatised and broke down in
tears as she talked - but remarkably, the health-care worker
expressed concern and compassion for her attacker.
"We were talking about what someone must be going through to
be able to do something like that," said Mr Saffari.
"That person who assaulted her must be in a lot of pain, and
I guess she was in a position of feeling compassion for him,
that someone was living in such a state where they can
actually bring themselves to hurt other people on that
The women were hitchhiking down the West Coast when they were
picked up in Whataroa by a man driving a blue Nissan Terrano
Aucklander Mr Saffari, 28, met Ms Brandl backpacking in
Malaysia in November. She stayed with him when she arrived in
New Zealand around three weeks ago.
She spoke to Mr Saffari on the phone from her hospital bed,
but her injuries made it difficult for her to speak for long
periods, he said.
"She was just traumatised. It sounded like she was in tears.
[But] she felt really lucky to be alive."
During the phone call, they didn't dwell much on her injuries
or what had happened, Mr Saffari said, because he wanted her
to focus on getting better.
"I tried to let her know that there are people who still care
for her, and that it may be something that will strengthen
her as a human in the future, to have gone through something
like that," he said.
"Just the fact she escaped that situation is quite
He described Ms Brandl as a "beautiful person" who always
tried to look at the positive aspect of any situation.
She had been in touch with her sister in Germany, he
believed, but was unsure if any members of her family were
planning to fly to New Zealand to be with her.
Mr Saffari said he was "quite shocked" by the attack.
"She had gone through Malaysia and Southeast Asia. You'd
think that New Zealand would be the last place in the world
that you'd expect to encounter something like this.
"For me, it's a real big wake-up call that you never know
what's going to happen each day.
"If that can happen in New Zealand to someone who's
travelling here, it can happen to anyone, really."
Ms Honda, 27, is said to be recovering well in hospital but
needs rest, an official from the Japanese Embassy said in
The official would not discuss details of the assistance
being provided to Ms Honda here, but said the embassy was in
touch with her and ready to help with "whatever she needs".
A 38-year-old Otaki man, who has been in police custody since
early on Monday morning after he was arrested for allegedly
attacking the hitchhikers, has been charged with murdering
community support worker Miss Farrall.
In a bedside court appearance, which took place in a
Christchurch Hospital ward room yesterday, the man was also
charged with the sexual violation of Miss Farrall, aggravated
robbery, one charge of wounding with intent to cause grievous
bodily harm, and charges of failing to stop and reckless
He was granted interim name suppression.