McPhee helped son get back on track

By Don Farmer don.farmer@age.co.nz -
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Jesse McPhee at his home yesterday. PHOTO/EMILY NORMAN
Jesse McPhee at his home yesterday. PHOTO/EMILY NORMAN

The youngest son of former Carterton mayor Gary McPhee who died on Tuesday has described his dad as more than just a father and as his best mate who virtually gave up 10 years of his life to help him.

Jesse McPhee, 33, of Masterton, said he had been a "bit of a ratbag" in his young years and was on the verge of being estranged from his father when a serious crash in Wellington changed everything.

"I had moved back to Wellington after we had fallen out when my motorcycle and a bus collided.

"I had head injuries, a broken jaw, smashed teeth, a broken collar bone, a punctured lung, broken ribs, a shattered femur, a dislocated kneecap, ankle injuries and ripped tendons and was six weeks in a coma."

The young father of two said his father had come to the rescue in a huge way, putting aside his own life to become his son's fulltime carer.

"If it hadn't been for him I may never have got back into life.

"He cared for me and brought me back by doing metalwork with me, we would go bushwalking and played squash together.

"We were no longer just a father and son, we were best friends.

"He nursed me back to health, without him I don't think I would ever have got out of rehab," he said.

Jesse said his father was a "straight shooter" with high moral standards.

"He had a sense of what was right and what was wrong and he hated us doing anything wrong."

Jesse said he had become so proud of his father and knew that many of his friends envied their close relationship.

He has bounced back to "about 98 per cent" full health and ironically is now a bus driver.

"Funnily enough I drive buses for a living now.

"If you can't beat them, join them."

Although on ACC he has a school bus run and it was at the end of the run on Tuesday that he found out his father had died.

"I pulled into my father's place on the way home from the school run and a police officer, who thought I knew what had happened, came up to me and said, 'Jesse I'm so sorry'.

"I said, 'for what?'

"He said your father has passed, I said, 'oh shit what bike was he on'."

Jesse said he was so close to his dad he wouldn't go a week without seeing him or longer than three days without talking with him.

"We were amazingly close."

Jesse is married to Natarsha and the couple have two children Jazmin, 9, and Lochlan, 5.

He has an older brother Harley who also lives in Masterton.

Both are sons of Gary and his former wife Wendy.

At the time of his death Mr McPhee was married to Sandy (nee Mansfield).

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