Marriage caps off recovery for Hawke's Bay soldier

By Jamie Morton of the New Zealand Herald

Four months after a gruelling SAS try-out almost killed him, a young Hawke's Bay soldier has married his long-time girlfriend and is back among his army mates.

Lieutenant Teira Cowan, who spent 11 days in an induced coma after collapsing near the end of an 8km run in the Hunua Ranges in South Auckland on January 25, this month married Layne Lovett.

Yesterday the 26-year-old's father, Monty Cowan, said the wedding was quiet and laid-back - much the way he described his son.

Now ``back to square one and good as gold'', his son had spoken little of the incident, which resulted in him being rushed by ambulance to Middlemore Hospital and transferred to Auckland City Hospital when his condition took a turn for the worse six days later.

When he woke the first words he spoke were the names of two nephews waiting in the intensive care unit.

Later when he returned to his Hawkes Bay home a welcoming party of 15 turned out at the airport for him.

``I kind of knew he would pull through, even though it was pretty hairy for a while there,'' Mr Cowan said.

``I just think you either know or you don't, but I had faith. He's strong enough to pull through and did. He lost his mum four years ago and I figured she wouldn't let him die.''

What caused his collapse remains a mystery, with a report months away. But life has returned to normal for Mr Cowan, who was back at his base in Burnham.

``He's been back for a few weekends and he's back to normal way, and fit. He doesn't say anything - I just ask him how's it going, he says okay and that's it.

``He's tough as nails and he's always been strong, stronger than all the kids when he was growing up - just super-human strength, really.''

But he doubted his son would re-apply for SAS selection, saying he had already over-exerted himself.

Details released to the Herald under the Official Information Act show Mr Cowan was among 16 prospective recruits who have been medically withdrawn during selection for the NZSAS in the Auckland region over the past five years.

Seven had to pull out because of heat exhaustion, four over knee injuries, one with a twisted ankle, another because of a shoulder injury and three with unknown causes.

The 10-day selection process - which includes a test to hike 200km in 60 hours with a 45kg pack - is described by the New Zealand Defence Force as a ``demanding course designed to identify self-disciplined soldiers and officers who are capable of working effectively as part of a small group under stressful conditions for long periods of time''.

Completing the course did not guarantee the candidate could move on to the more demanding training phase.


Medical withdrawals during NZSAS selection.

2008: Three withdrawals (Two heat exhaustion, one unknown causes)

2009: No withdrawals.

2010: Four withdrawals (One twisted ankle, one knee injury, one shoulder injury, one collapse)

2011: Seven withdrawals (Four heat exhaustion, three knee injury)

2012: Two withdrawals (One heat exhaustion, one unknown causes)

Figures relate to selection in the Auckland region. Source: New Zealand Defence Force.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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