Quake CTV survivor: 'I see things so differently'

By Susie Nordqvist

Smoke rises from the collapsed CTV Building on February 22.
Photo / Mark Mitchell
Smoke rises from the collapsed CTV Building on February 22. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Trapped beneath a mountain of rubble and resigned to the fact she may not make it out alive, Clemency Mutze began saying her last prayers.

"I just thought this is it. It's over. I want to die in peace."

Just moments earlier she had been leafing through a magazine in a waiting room on the fifth floor of the CTV building in central Christchurch.

But as the building crumbled around her, breaking her back, shattering her tailbone, and pinning her body, Clemency - fearing the worst - was willing for it to be over.

"There was one point where I smelt smoke in the building that's when I knew it was really, really bad."

"So I said my gratitudes and I prayed that my loved ones would be looked after."
But then, as her thoughts turned to her family, her brother's words began ringing in her ears.

"A week or so before I had a conversation with my brother who told me 'you can always get yourself out of any situation'."

And so with her right arm she located a concrete reinforcement rod, which became her lifeline to safety.

"I just poked it through the rubble and started yelling for help over and over. I was determined I was going to say it to the end."

And then, from the cover of darkness came a voice: "we're going to get you out of here."
Sometime later amid the tangled mess of the collapsed CTV building, Clemency looked up to see the face of her rescuer who "looked like an angel".

For several days Clemency remained in hospital and even today six months on, she admits there are dark days - though she has drawn positives from the experience.

In a few weeks she will open her own beauty therapy business, something said she had only dreamt about before.

"I see things so differently. I'm a completely different person to what I was before February 22. I have more compassion ... and I've definitely become more proactive because I know life is short, whereas before I felt really immortal."

"I see the beautiful things in life that I didn't have time for before."

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