Last-minute decision cost life

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Jesse Lee Uncles, 21, pictured centre front with his three older brothers from left, Jay Uncles, 29, Reece Uncles, 30, his father Dennis Uncles and brother Deon Uncles, 27. Photo/Supplied.
Jesse Lee Uncles, 21, pictured centre front with his three older brothers from left, Jay Uncles, 29, Reece Uncles, 30, his father Dennis Uncles and brother Deon Uncles, 27. Photo/Supplied.

Jesse Uncles' fingers were split from holding on to his seat belt, his father says.

Dennis and Helen Uncles still struggle knowing they'll never see their youngest son married with children.

He was not a boy racer, he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, they say.

Jesse, 21, made a last-minute decision to head out for a quick trip to retrieve a forgotten bottle of vodka.

It was this decision that put his life in the hands of a driver more than four times over the limit.

That driver was Tyler James Walker, 21. He owned the 1997 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 4 and his dangerous driving killed Jesse in a crash in Hastings on August 8 last year.

Yesterday before Judge Bridget Mackintosh at Hastings District Court Walker admitted one charge of drink-driving causing death and two of drink-driving causing injury to two other passengers, as well as a charge of dangerous driving.

One of the injured, Kayden Basil French, was sitting in the passenger seat and Stephen Edwin Palmer was sitting in the back right of the car.

Mr French was seriously injured and will be lucky to fully recover.

Mr Palmer suffered spinal injuries and Walker suffered a knock to the head, but was largely uninjured.

Sobs could be heard as police prosecutor Jay Mason told the court what happened on August 8, last year.

Police had spotted Walker driving dangerously on Pakowhai Rd, shortly before being called to a grisly scene on Farndon Rd, Hastings, where a car had crumpled after the driver had lost control.

A sticker saying: "If I die speeding don't cry because I was smiling"- a tribute to deceased Fast & Furious actor Paul Walker, could still be read on the unwarranted, unregistered car.

The car smashed into trees and then "catapulted" back up out of the ditch and on to the road.

Jesse's parents told Hawke's Bay Today they have tried to imagine how their son might have felt in that car. "He hated speed. He wasn't a boy racer," Mrs Uncles said.

"He must've been hanging on to his seat belt," his father said.

His son's fingertips were all "split" and there were seat belt marks across his chest.

Jesse had "got the worst of it", they had to finger-print him to identify him because of the state of his body.

Jesse and three men had all left from the same party, to pick up a bottle of vodka that had been left behind. Jesse hadn't been in the car but jumped in for the quick ride.

Police had returned to the party, where some of Jesse's relations were, following the crash. It was his uncle that rang his parents with the news.

A blood sample taken after the crash showed Walker had a blood-alcohol level of 218mg per 100ml.

While the legal limit for his age is now 50mg, it was 80mg at the time of the crash, which means he was more than four times over the limit.

Jesse's father said it was still "hell" for the family.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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