The Day That Changed My Life (2015) Movie Script

I saw one of my colleagues, and he just said,
'The building's going down. We're going down, '
and that's when I thought,
'Shit. We actually are going down. '
It was so violent that it was actually going
up and down, and I was lifted off the ground.
And then the dust was everywhere, and I remember
it kind of choking me; trying to cough. And then,...
it stopped.
Could see the sky, so I knew
that our building was munted.
As we went for the stairs, we were actually kind of
jumping over bits of the building to try and get down,
and everyone was, you know,
'Go, go, go, go!'
Like, kind of go as fast as you can, cos they
didn't know if another aftershock was gonna hit.
Extremely lucky to-to have survived,
as the building's infrastructure is down.
Our whole building is gone. It's
just smoke and ruin at the moment.
And I was, like, 'Holy shit. I can't
believe I just got out of there alive. '
There's people trapped on the top of our Press
building. The walls have collapsed around them.
The videographer from work, Daniel Tobin, he
came round, and he was, like, 'Are you OK?'
And I was, like, 'No. ' And he was,
like, 'Can you do work?' 'Yup. '
Just say what you feel.
OK. What's the time?
1 o'clock. Here?
Yeah, OK. So if people can-
It's just after 1pm on, um,...
Tuesday the 22nd of February.
Um, we've just been hit by a devastating
earthquake in Christchurch again.
I'm one of the reporters from The Press building.
I was upstairs when it hit. Buildings fell down.
We're out in Christchurch Cathedral Square. As you
can see, people are just gathering round.
We were in the library,
up on the top floor.
The spire of the Christchurch
Cathedral has fallen down.
There's dead people.
There's people crushed.
OK. Sorry.
People just everywhere.
There's a lot of people in shock.
There were just hundreds of people
gathered around, just thinking, 'Oh my God.
'I can't believe this has happened.
I can't believe this has happened here. '
You can see them gathering here
today, hugging each other in support,
trying to get in touch with people they love to tell
them that they're safe or ask if others are safe,
but there's no communication in and out of
central city of Christchurch at the moment.
All phone networks were down.
There were no ambulances.
There were no police.
There were no officials.
Oh, that's gas. That's fuckin' gas.
Oh my gosh.
There's people killed in this.
You were just faced
with a broken city.
Are there people in there?
Oh fuck.
It was madness.
Have a look around. Do something!
People are just roaming round, just distraught. No
one knows what to do or where to go at the moment.
It's hard to explain, really.
It's just terrifying.
Comms, CHO4. When there's an opportunity, we
could do with an ambulance and St John's staff.
We've got quite a few
injured people here.
OK. Who needs urgent
assistance in Central City?
We had lots of conflicting
information coming through.
The problem was communication
and information.
Got multiple
building collapses...
There's buildings
down everywhere.
Buildings have collapsed.
Try to stop all the bleeding.
I've got a critical here.
You start to build a mental picture, and
you think that this is quite catastrophic.
We've got, uh, major damage
throughout the entire city.
Oh shit. Hold on, hold on,
hold on, hold on!
At that point - right at that very point - my
day that I knew was gonna be changed forever.
You have, you know, the choice to either blend
into the background or take on a leadership role,
so I kind of found myself
thrust into that.
We need somewhere to take the injured. We can't
get them to the hospital. We got multiple injuries.
I sent a convoy of vehicles
off to Latimer Square,
and we set about essentially
building a hospital.
Please be careful.
We came to Latimer Square, and there were just injured
people everywhere, and I remember I found one person
who looked like an authority or an official
who could give me a comment, and I said,
'I know you're busy, and I know you
don't have time to talk to me,
'but can you just please tell me what's going on?
What can I tell people right now in Christchurch?'
And he said-the only thing
he said to me was,
'Multiple casualties. Tell the people that
they're alone for the next 24 hours. '
I remember thinking, 'Oh, it looks like
we're turning, for some reason, '
and no one had said anything.
They turned the plane around, then
told us there'd been an earthquake
and the control tower had been evacuated,
and they're returning to Auckland.
I rang Susan to see if she was OK.
Her phone went through to her voicemail, so I
left her a message and then spoke to my two sons,
and they said they're OK,
but it was a really big earthquake.
Back to Christchurch, where one of
the first reporters to broadcast from...
I went up to the Koru Lounge, and it was
just chaos up there. Everyone was up there.
Every direction you look, it is
just absolutely catastrophic.
Um, buildings have tumbled; there's a five-storey,
six-storey building I can see in front of me.
And they were showing all
these shots of Christchurch.
They've cordoned off, uh, about three
or four cars right next to our building.
They then showed this
huge big pile of rubble.
Then the camera sort of panned down, and
they had this sign in front of it which said,
um, Canterbury Television House.
And I just looked at that, and I thought,
'God, that's the building Susan's in. '
What I just knew at that point was I
needed to get back to Christchurch.
We were then told
Christchurch Airport was closed
to all flights, uh,
other than emergency flights.
Oh my God!
Get out of the way!
The Pyne-That's the
Pyne Gould building.
People yelling!
You can hear people
screaming up there.
There's another shock. Move
back. Just keep away from the edge.
Everybody back!
Away from the building!
Everybody back!
We were given a tasking to go round to the
PGC building to, um, take some medications.
I guess you're wondering how you're
gonna brace yourself when you see, um,
some people that have got crush
injuries or have been crushed,
and there was a likelihood
we were gonna see them.
You'd-You'd see the building as
a whole is a-is a damaged building.
And if you look closely, it's like one of those
pictures; you can see something in the background.
And then you started to see people that were still
trapped, um, obviously dead, still in the rubble.
You see limbs hanging out; you
can make out faces in the rubble.
And that was probably the-the most sobering thing,
knowing that people had gone about their daily lives,
and all of a sudden,
it had been stopped.
There's firepeople, a lot of police and, um, I
guess you could say, just construction workers.
Ultimately our-they were our rescue guys at the time,
um, having the best knowledge of a building site.
Get into Pyne Gould Guinness, there's
people dying everywhere, and it's a mess.
No one knows what they're doing.
There are more than 30 trapped.
My expectations were that I would
get there and help to move rubble.
I had no expectation that we'd
be involved in a full rescue.
There was someone holding a ladder, and I
assumed my job would be to hold a ladder.
We stood there for about five
minutes, expecting someone to...
tell us what to do, and Tony and I just
looked at each other and put our hard hats on
and climbed up the ladder,
And the first I ever got, there
was a guy caught under-his left shoulder -
a major beam had come down.
There was a medic there,
and the guy was on a drip.
And I was just watching
the medic's body language,
and, uh, I was just looking into the guy's face,
and I wasn't speaking, but I was just... reassuring,
in my mind, everything's gonna be all right; we're
gonna get him out. He had one more shot of morphine.
He looked at me,
and then he was gone,
and I was, like,...
'I got it wrong. I misinterpreted
everything. What if-?'
You know, 'If I'd known, I could've spoken
to him or got his name, or at that last... '
One had collapsed. He was somehow pushed to the side
and had half the top floor across his arm and leg.
There was nothing we could do for him.
All we could do was make him comfortable.
I gave him a whole lot of medications
that essentially put him to sleep
but took his pain away as well.
Um, died in his sleep, um,
which is probably a good thing.
I don't think we would've been able to
free him. He wouldn't have lived, I doubt.
Two more people were trapped, and within
a five-minute period, they both died.
So that's three people had died
in front of me in a
short period of time.
I couldn't see anything.
It was pitch black.
The ceiling had come to about... It was just
above me, and I was on my hands and knees.
That's when I realised that
something heavy was on my back,
and I was just screaming to one of the girls
that I could hear, that I knew the most,
to come and get it off my back. I thought
it was my desk, so I just kept yelling out,
'The desk's on my back, and it's so
heavy, and I can't get out from under it. '
I couldn't see my phone.
I could hear it buzzing behind me,
and I just couldn't reach it.
No one's-No one's
really too sure what to do.
Um, they're just staying as well
clear of those buildings as they can.
Whole image of the CTV building
played time and time again.
And it was just-you know, got worse and
worse, and I was starting to really really worry.
This guy walked in to the
building we were in and said,
'Look, we've got a, um, air ambulance
that we're taking down to Christchurch. '
'We've just delivered a child up to
Starship Hospital, and we're going back,
'and we've got one seat.
Would someone like it?'
I just said, 'Oh, well,
that'll be me. I'm going. '
Building's came down here. There's
people underneath the rubble down here.
Me and Dan's main focus was to film
what was happening in Christchurch
and to get it out for people to see
what had just happened to our city.
Is anyone in there?
There's a person trapped
in this store in here.
Rescue attempts going on. This
lady's been dragged out of the rubble.
Hey, guys, we need someone over
here. We got another trapped one.
He needs an ambulance.
He's looking so close to death.
Have to drag people
out of the rubble?
Sorry? No.
There's people trapped in there.
- Dead?
- Yeah.
There's a dead body. There's a
dead person underneath that blanket.
We've got Shane in there!
- Come on, man.
- From The Press.
- Doesn't matter. Have some respect.
- Yeah, I do.
Yeah, well, that's fine.
Go down there.
I saw a woman with blood
just all over her face,
and I heard her say, 'Libby, '
and that's-that's my name,
so I turned around, and I realised that she
was a really close family friend of mine,
and I hadn't recognised her,
because her nose was,...
to put it graphically, hanging off her face,
and she just-I couldn't tell it was her.
And she remembered a bit of building coming down,
and she explained it as being squashed like a staple.
I sat behind her and I tried to...
to support her so she
could breathe properly,
but I could hear from her breathing
that there was blood in her lungs,
and that's when I started to cry.
It became real when I saw her
injured, because she was real to me.
She wasn't just someone I was documenting. She
wasn't someone I was writing about in my notepad.
She was Jane Taylor, she was one of my best
friend's mothers, and she was gravely injured.
Dan, we need an ambulance.
Yeah, OK, hang on.
Can you-? Can we get
Jane an ambulance?
I'm trying. I'm trying.
And she had all her ribcage broken, one of
her lungs punctured, her pelvis broken,
her neck fractured,
a skull fracture.
And then Shane Tomlin,
he got pulled out,
and he was making that same
inhuman groaning noise,
and you can just tell that
there's something seriously wrong.
And then Jane lost consciousness, and they had to
choose between taking Jane or Shane to hospital,
and at that point, Shane was still making
these noises, but Jane was unconscious.
It... I mean, you know,
they-rock and a hard place, really,
but they got Jane there and flew her
straight to Wellington Hospital.
Uh, obviously, it's a scene of utter
devastation, as we had everything on our side
at the last earthquake, in terms of the timing in
the middle of the night, when people weren't around.
It's been the polar
opposite this time.
While we are doing everything we possibly can, I
wanna give people an absolute reassurance that, um,
we're dispatching as many people as we can. We've
got about 180 police working on the ground here,
200 extra police coming in, 350 military
people, with another 250 on their way.
I don't think we can, uh, go past the fact
that we may well be witnessing NZ's darkest day.
We had a list of people that had been made contact
with, and they were trapped on the second floor.
And it was just, basically,...
smashing concrete.
There was probably an hour and a half to two
hours to break through on the first floor.
We broke through, Tony and I dropped
down, and it was just absolute mayhem.
And the first thing I saw was...
two black shoes,
and I just naturally thought, 'Yep, that's the
first person we're gonna get out alive, ' and...
Tony shook his legs, and he said to
me, 'Oh, mate, he's not looking too good, '
and I just naturally thought, 'He's-He's injured.
We'll get the medic down, and it'll be fine. '
Then we heard this voice. 'Oh, that's such and
such. I've checked his pulse. He's-He's dead. '
And... I looked at Tony, he looked
at me, and I- and there was a lady there,
and there was only one way to get
her out, and it was over that body.
Yep. There it is.
Oh my God. Fuck, what a lucky lady.
All right. Just keep goin'. Yeah.
Just hold it, guys. Just hold it.
We went from here to there
within-within minutes.
It was constantly emotionally
up, down, up, down, up, down.
I lost the feeling in my legs
within the first 20 minutes, 30 minutes,
and then I felt it starting
to leave my arms and my body,
so I started squeezing
my hands like this,
and then that wasn't enough, so I'd squeeze
them like this and move my head at the same time,
just to keep the blood
flowing through my body.
Think if I had stopped doing that,
I would have gone.
I was stuck in that position,
in sort of a curled over foetal position
for the next, I think,
four to five hours.
You just had to focus. Um...
Um, I was worrying about family
and my grandparents and just friends,
and every time my phone was ringing,
I was worrying about,... you know.
Flying into Christchurch to
see this big pool of smoke,
and I thought, 'God. That'll be-
That's the CTV building. '
You know, I didn't even know it
had started burning at that point.
And I rang Matt, my son,
and he came and collected me.
The whole city was sealed off.
Police were stopping people going in.
So I said, 'Look, um, my wife's in
that building, and I need to get there. '
So this policeman obviously looked
at me and saw how serious I was,
so he said, 'Oh, you better
jump in the back of the car. '
And that really hit me how
devastated the city was.
They still had bodies on the footpaths,
covered up with tarpaulins at that point,
cos they were so busy looking for people. And it
was-yeah, it's just the most surreal, sort of, feeling.
You could see bits
of the CTV building.
It was obviously down,
and it was burning.
There were various rumours going on at the
time that they'd found 15 people in a cavity,
uh, and that they're all OK, and
they were gonna be getting them out.
We all immediately thought that we were going
to get our loved ones out of that building.
I rang Susan's cell phone every hour
and left her a message.
'If you're in there, just wait.
We're not far away. '
And I tried to, um, give her as
much, um, support and love as I could,
and I wanted her to hear my voice.
I was losing so much energy, and
I thought, 'If you don't get me out now -
it's been about five, six hours -
'I'm gonna die. '
I just knew there
wasn't much left in me.
I think every 20 minutes or so, I just screamed
my lungs out. I was just in so much pain.
Some men outside,
they started sledgehammering
in through the second floor.
There was this ray of light, which
was like this wee bit of hope that...
we were gonna get rescued.
They managed to get in, and they were only
about 3m away and still couldn't see me.
This fireman, he said to me that he was gonna try and
pull me out, and I said, 'No, you can't pull me out;
'I'm really stuck. ' I still thought it was just
the desk or something. Um, so he looked behind me,
and he basically went, 'Oh crap. '
A 6-ton beam had dropped
on my lower back.
They finally got this
heavy-duty equipment.
He said to me, um, 'I'm gonna pull you. I'm gonna
pull you so hard, um, no matter what happens,
'and you're gonna get out, and if anything
happens, don't worry, because I'm here with you. '
It may have stayed up only about a
second, this beam, and then dropped,
and that's when the blood started rushing
through the lower half of my body again,
and the pain was just excruciating.
And they were trying to keep my eyes open, and
I was trying to-With all the strength I had left,
I was trying to hang in there, and it was
the hardest thing I've ever had to do.
And I just didn't
know how bad I was.
As the end of the day for me was drawing to a
close, a girl had been pulled out of the building,
um, and she was severely injured,
and by the time they were ready to transport
her, they were having to resuscitate her.
And, you know,
I said to the doctors -
and they'd done a really tough job or a
really excellent job in trying to stabilise her,
but she just continued to
deteriorate - and I said, you know,
'Christchurch Hospital are no longer
taking critically ill patients.
'They're being flown now
to Dunedin or Wellington. '
I said, you know, 'We can't justify a helicopter
for this woman if she's being resuscitated, '
you know, 'The chances of her
surviving are-are very remote. '
You know, so we had to make the tough decision of
basically putting her into the back of the tent,
and they sat with her and
held her hand while she died.
Um, so there were a number of,
you know, tough decisions where you think,
'My God, ' you know, 'people have risked their
lives digging her out, you know, doing all that,
'and for us then to turn round and say,
" Can't get her to Wellington,"' you know?
Um, it was really hard, but that
was kind of the reality of the situation.
So I think that, um, you know, there was a few things that
- that plague you, I guess.
That sort of made up the rest of the night, going from
person to person that had been either dragged out -
assessing them
- people that'd been crushed under chairs or office equipment or beams.
Near the end of the night, they could
hear six voices from six different places.
And I think they were able
to get three of them out.
Um, they didn't hear from the others again,
and I think they'd died from their injuries.
As it grew darker, um,
it started raining,
and we had blankets wrapped around
us. We were just basically looking into hell.
Um, I stayed there
for about 30 hours,
um, waiting.
It was an absolutely surreal situation, standing
there in your suit, wrapped in a blanket,
with your son,
looking into-into hell.
I didn't know what time it was.
Time just flew.
It was about 3am in the morning, and I just
happened to look across towards the river,
and I saw these two lines of men
in black uniforms and gold hats,
and I had no idea who they were,
what it was.
They were looking up at us.
Anyway, one of them came up
and, uh, was the squad leader,
and he said, 'I'm now in charge
of this site, and we're gonna take over. '
He'd been briefed by the fire chief. He said,
'You'll get resistance from these guys up there, '
and we just said,...
'It's all yours. '
For me, I grew up
that night on the Py-
on the...
On the Pyne Gould Guinness site,
it was...
I'd-I'd learnt what humility was,
I'd learnt what...
humanity was,
and I understood what
self-leadership was.
There was a group of 20-odd construction
guys that went into that job as strangers
and just came out as a
band of brothers. It was...
pretty profound.
Dawn came. The fire had
started to calm down.
Eventually, they came and said,
'Look, we're down to the third floor,
'and there aren't any survivors there,
and I'm really sorry to tell you that. '
I was trying to calculate where
Susan's office would've been,
and so she was on the fourth floor
at the back of the building,
and so when I looked
down this alleyway,
I could tell that that's where her office
would've been if the building was still up.
And when I-you just looked at the rubble there and
the smoke pouring out of it, I really thought...
Man, I just knew she was in there, and
I knew she wasn't coming out, at that point.
Matt and I, we went off. The police took our
names and all the details, and so I went home.
And that was really hard cos, um,
you know, there was washing all folded up
and it's just like she shot
down to the shops or something.
By the Thursday, it was, uh, stated that all work
on the CTV site would now be recovery and not rescue,
and there were no survivors left.
It had to be managed as if it was a-
a crime site.
Tony and I just had this unspoken...
understanding that we'd go there,
because in Maori culture,
it's all about getting the ones that have
deceased back to their families for closure.
For the first three or four days,
I kept a tally of how many
bodies we recovered.
After a certain number,
I stopped-I stopped counting.
Am I glad I did it? Yeah.
Does it have a lot of...
impact on me? Yeah.
Was there a lot of trauma?
Would I do it again?
From the scans, they knew
I had a fractured pelvis.
I put on 25kg of fluid, which was-
is a result of a crush injury.
Because I was on dialysis
and had kidney failure,
they couldn't give me painkillers.
I was just on basics.
The pain was always 10 out of 10,
and I was on amputation watch
for my legs.
I was in hospital for
three and a half months,...
learning to walk again. Yeah.
I wanted to get out of hospital, you know. I wanted
to run again, and maybe one day I will. I don't know.
But, um, I was determined
to get out.
I got an incredible opportunity following the
earthquake to write the memoriam tribute to the victims.
There are 185 victims, and I was
given the chance to call the family members
and pull the photographs
from all over the world,
and that gave me closure.
I can still name where some
people were, where they died.
I know the names of the people
who died in City Mall.
I know the names of the people who died in PGC, the
people who died on the hills, and I won't forget that.
Um, and that was an experience that
you can't not change from.
Every day, they were announcing the names of
people that they had found in the building,
and every day, we were waiting
for Susan's name to be announced,
cos I was starting to get worried
that we may end up never finding her
and always wondering
what had happened.
You know, I had days just lying on the floor at
home in the foetal position, howling my eyes out,
sort of two or three days on end
sometimes, um, but it actually helped.
The good news was that
she was identified.
It took five weeks, um,
through dental records.
So we were able to have a funeral, and it was an
amazing celebration of her life. It was really...
All of us are far better people
for having had Susan in our lives
than we would have been with
never ever having met her.
Susan has actually
got us through this.
Her spirit-Um, every now and again,
you can hear her saying,
'Don't worry about this. Get going, '
you know, 'you'll be all right. '