Victim terrorised by memory of drug-fuelled road rage
Cassie Welton is nervous.
She won't look people in the eye, struggles to sleep, and avoids driving at night.
She suffered from anxiety after the 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquakes, but was pushed over the edge when John David Malcolm Mclaren Savage rammed her car into Christchurch's Avon River during a drug-fuelled rage.
On March 25, Savage repeatedly rammed a car containing Welton and four others with his own vehicle, ultimately flipping Welton's car into the river.
Welton inhaled water, suffered glass cuts and an injured shoulder, and her car was wrecked in the incident.
"It was just horrible, like he just didn't care. It was almost like we weren't there, he just kept ramming us."
On Tuesday, the Christchurch District Court sentenced Savage, who has 21 previous violence-related convictions, to three years in prison.
Welton said the incident had a profound effect on her life.
"It's just stopped me from doing anything, and I thought there was something seriously wrong with me. Nobody should be scared of everything. He's sort of killed my faith in people."
In court, Savage's lawyer said he had written apologies to the five victims, but Welton said she never received one. She had no intention of meeting him face-to-face.
"I was in the passenger seat, and he was in the driver's seat right in the lane next to us – and he just looked directly at me," she said.
"I wasn't able to sleep and drive, because every time I'd go to drive at night, I'd just picture his face."
Welton has lost contact with the friends who were in the car with her, but said they were shaken up at the time.
She said Savage was deliberately intimidating, and hid under a river bank after escaping from the upside-down, partially-submerged car.
"When I heard his car come back, I thought he was coming back to finish us off."
Savage stook on the river bank and yelled at the victims: "I'm John f...... Savage and don't you forget it.
"He could have killed five people, and he didn't care. It's horrible to think that people could just do that."
After throwing a bottle at one of the victims, Savage got in his car and drove away.
The victims found a man in a four-wheel drive who called the police for them.
"I never got his name and I never managed to thank him," said Welton.
She said the incident should serve as a lesson about taking drugs and driving.
Savage claimed he was on acid when he rammed the car.
"You know, he might be sorry . . . that doesn't change the fact of what he did," Welton said.