Alex Cottier (21) and Ashleigh Clement (20) are settled
back in the Wakatipu for good, and engaged after a
life-changing year. Photo by Olivia Caldwell.
A year after Alex Cottier suffered a brain bleed at the
National Rugby sevens tournament in Queenstown, causing him to
collapse, he is finally looking to move on in his home town of
It has been a year of ups and downs for the 21-year-old, who
now looks at life in a different manner and will marry his
fiancee Ashleigh Clement (20) on January 19.
Mr Cottier was given the all-clear from doctors in November
after receiving brain surgery at the start of the year and
radiotherapy in August.
The news gave him new hope.
''It has taught me not to take things for granted. It has
given me the thought that today could be our last and
tomorrow it could be all over.''
Last January he was drinking with his friends at the
tournament when he vomited and collapsed because of a rare
and potentially fatal brain bleed due to arteriovenous
malformation. He was taken by ambulance to the Lakes District
Hospital where doctors and nurses initially misdiagnosed him
and assumed he was simply drunk.
After 24 hours he was eventually sent to Invercargill for a
brain scan, which detected a brain bleed.
He was immediately flown to Dunedin Hospital where he had
another CT scan and neurosurgery and remained in a high
dependency unit for two weeks after the operation.
In September The Southern District Health Board admitted in a
report to Vanessa Cottier, Mr Cottier's mother, there had
been miscommunication between hospital and ambulance staff.
The report said the miscommunication could have led to the
incorrect diagnosis, such as one staff member recording he
had consumed 24 cans of beer within two hours.
Mr Cottier had consumed three cans of beer the entire
afternoon. He said he had taken positives from the incident
and was keen to move on back to Arrowtown after living in
Christchurch since May.
''I want to put it in the back of my mind. There is no point
looking back ... I have lost a year as it is and I am looking
Moving forward included getting engaged to Miss Clement, who
has gone through a similar life-changing experience. In
September 2011 she suffered a stroke. Upon reading about Mr
Cottier's incident in the news, she contacted him to offer
The pair began to talk and in May Mr Cottier moved to
Christchurch to live with her.
Mr Cottier will attend the tournament's last show in
Queenstown before it moves to Rotorua for 2014, but said he
was unlikely to drink any alcohol