It is just over 17 months since Lance Carter's life was changed forever after his partner of eight years and his best mate were killed by a drug-impaired driver.

The Bay of Plenty Times recently caught up with Carter at his Ohauiti home as he faced another Christmas without the woman he called "the love of my life".

Leigh Antoinette Rhodes, 60, and Carter's friend Kenny McCrae, 52, were both killed on July 29, 2016.

It was early afternoon that day when Carter received a call from his partner saying her SUV had a punctured tyre on State Highway 29 near Baypark.


Carter asked McCrae to give him a hand, and while the two men were changing the tyre on the side of the road the trio were struck by drug-impaired driver Nicole Reynolds.

McCrae was killed instantly and Rhodes died in Tauranga Hospital a short time later.

Severely injured, Carter nearly died on the operating table and had to learn to walk again.

"You know one of the hardest things is that I was going to marry Leigh in the October.
I hadn't popped the question but I already knew her answer," he said.

"I was going to take her away on road trip in the motorhome I built which Leigh loved and ask her to marry me. She was the love of my life," he said.

Carter said it has been a long road to recovery but one positive was he had started driving again and he hoped to return to work this year.

"It was a nerve-racking at first but now I'm driving properly again other motorists better keep off the road," he quipped.

Gym visits, twice-weekly physio and monthly doctor's appointments have become the new norm for Carter, who wears a compression bandage on his right leg to prevent swelling.


Next month he has a hospital check-up at the burns and scars unit to find out whether his injuries have become infected again, he said.

"I will always walk with a limp but I try hard not to do so as it becomes a habit," he said.

Carter also has an appointment at Grace Hospital on February 5 because his left shoulder is now "buggered" after constantly having to pull himself up to a standing position.

"I am getting better slowly but I still wake up between 2am and 4am every day thinking about Leigh and Kenny and what happened that day," he said.

Carter said he also spends a lot of time staring out his lounge window reflecting on what might have been - he and his late partner's home provides a spectacular view of Mauao.

"Christmas time is particularly hard time, as Leigh used to go all out with decorations, a tree, food and she was the catalyst for bringing us all together," he said.

Nicole Reynolds, who had a cocktail of prescription drugs and methadone in her system, was jailed for three-and-half years on March 27 last year.

Carter recently received a letter from her from prison. He had asked for a monthly letter from Reynolds so she "never forgets" and he has asked to attend her parole hearing coming up shortly.

Carter said he can also never forget McCrae was doing him a favour that fatal day.

"But that's the sort of person Kenny was. I miss him very much."