A 22-year-old Japanese national paralysed after diving into Dee Why ocean pool last month has thanked first responders and the local community for his rescue and ongoing support.
On October 27, Haruto Morishita was enjoying his mornings as usual, swimming at Dee Why Beach, when he took a dive head first into the shallow end of the south side ocean pool, fracturing a vertebrae and causing a displacement that severely damaged his spinal cord. Emergency responders were quick to attend and Haruto was rushed to Royal North Shore Hospital, unable to move his arms or legs.
Not being an Australian citizen, Haruto was facing an incredibly challenging situation, with his travel insurance only covering a small portion of his hospital bill, as well as having no immediate family in the country.
Now, Haruto’s friends have set up a fund to help the severely injured young man get the help he needs and to get home. At the time of writing this, it had reached over $88,000.
“I really appreciate this community and I realise how amazing they are, because people who I know and even those I haven’t met have supported and rescued me,” said Haruto, from his room at Royal North Shore. “Again thank you so much for your help. I’m not local, but it feels like a home town.”
Reporting on his condition, Haruto’s friends reported that Haruto is paralysed from the chest down.
“I really appreciate this community and I realise how amazing they are, because people who I know and even those I haven’t met have supported and rescued me.”
With his plan to come to Australia in 2020 stopped by the pandemic, Haruto was finally able to make it in April of this year, moving in with a friend, Jun Aoki, from the same hometown of Yokohama and working at a Coffee Supreme in Brookvale.
It was through surfing and skating with Jun that Haruto was introduced to Kentaro Yoshida, a Japanese artist who has been living in the Northern Beaches since 2004.
“There’s a small Japanese community in the Northern Beaches – we all look after each other,” Kentaro said. “A lot of us surf, so it’s been a good way of getting to know people and develop a community.”“Haruto came here not knowing much English, but through working and developing friendships he picked it up really quickly. He’s a really easy going person, but at the same time he’s super active. Skating is really popular in Yokohama.”“I can’t believe that he’s 22 and he can’t do the stuff that he loves, it’s really heart breaking.”
When he arrived at Royal North Shore Hospital, Haruto was put into intensive care, struggling to speak to those around him. He is now out of intensive care and is eager to begin the rehabilitation process.”We wanted to do something to brighten his mood,” said Kentaro. “He can now eat, and food brings him a lot of joy, so I was able to bring in some authentic Japanese food for him to eat.”
Haruto’s road to recovery is a long one, but through the help of the Northern Beaches community it can be made easier.
The initial figure of $80,000 was set with the idea of raising as much money as possible, taking more than just the hospital bill in consideration, as Haruto may need a technical wheelchair, help getting home, as well as renovations to his family home in Japan to make it more accessible.
You can learn more about the campaign here.