Family members accept injuries are from fall

KATHRYN KING
Last updated 12:00 25/06/2014
Anahera Rangitaawa
INJURED: Anahera Rangitaawa.

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Family of a transgender woman seriously injured when she fell from a tree in Palmerston North have accepted her injuries were not from a beating.

A member of the public found Anahera Rangitaawa, 33, lying on the ground outside the Copthorne Hotel on Fitzherbert Ave on Saturday night.

She was taken to Palmerston North Hospital with serious injuries before being transferred to Wellington Hospital.

Detective Johnny Oram said it appeared her injuries were not suspicious and were instead suffered after she fell from a tree she had climbed.

"We have completed our investigation and corroborated witness information, including speaking with the victim's friends and local businesses."

A scene examination, evidence and an assessment of her injuries confirmed the finding, he said.

Police refused to answer any further questions on the finding.

Her family, who initially believed she had been attacked, had been informed of the outcome of the investigation, he said.

Friends and family had initially feared she had been beaten by three men in a attack motivated by their dislike of her gender identification.

Family member Scott Engebretsen said he had been shown the site where Rangitaawa fell and was confident the police were right.

"We had a look at the environment and we came up with a personal decision that a tree-falling incident makes a lot of sense."

It was consistent with the lack of abrasions and lesions on her body, and the extensive internal fractures.

"I always had that question in my mind: ‘Where is the external damage?'

"When they said falling out of a tree, I thought ‘not enough scratches on her body', but when we went to the site everything makes sense. You can clearly see where the tree had broken. Everything is pretty much a consistent story now."

Engebretsen would not say how far she fell, or where, only that it appeared to be "head first" and she was "extremely intoxicated" at the time.

Rangitaawa had been making a "speedy recovery" in Wellington and had been moved out of intensive care and into a neurological ward.

She was expected to be transferred to Palmerston North Hospital by the end of the week, he said.

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- Manawatu Standard

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