The Rowe family has been suffocating from a palpable grief every day since March 3; the day a Subaru crossed the centre line, colliding with and killing motorcyclist Karli Rowe.
Now, her father Craig has only memories and photos to remind him of the irreplaceable bond he had with his daughter. Her mother Debra's heart breaks every time she thinks of her lying on the side of the road with nobody to hold her.
Her sister Kirstin struggles with the idea of growing old without her "soulmate" and her brother Aaron will be getting married in November, knowing his whole family can't be there.
When faced in court with the driver who killed the 26-year-old, the Rowe family, from Ōhope, told her they would never forgive her.
Nakeeta Star Prior, 19, was sentenced in Rotorua District Court on Thursday on one count of careless or inconsiderate vehicle operation causing injury and one of careless or inconsiderate vehicle operation causing death.
The teenage driver was behind the wheel of the Subaru that crossed the centre line and crashed into Karli and her riding partner, Kathleen Taipeti, on March 3 at Tikitere.
Reading their victim impact statements, members of the Rowe family and Taipeti described what Karli was like and how her death impacted each of them.
Speaking first, Craig said he had shared an exclusive father/daughter friendship with Karli.
"The impact of Karli's death on my life has been overwhelming and near impossible to put into words.
"All that I ever wanted in my life was for my children to be happy. Now, because of someone's complete failure to drive correctly and responsibly, my very loved Karli is dead and gone forever while my other two children are grief-stricken, angry and emotionally scarred for life.
"As my daughter, she was also a skiing buddy, tramping mate, fishing mate, travel mate, camping friend, coffee date when we were at work and flatmate until she moved around the corner to her own flat in November."
Craig told the court that in the days following Karli's death he had felt lonely, scared and that his life had been ruined. He struggled to get out of bed, struggled to work and had since received treatment for anxiety and depression.
"I now know what it feels like physically when people say that your heart has been ripped out."
He said his daughter had taken pride in learning how to ride her motorcycle correctly, attending riding classes in Tauranga and buying all the right safety gear.
"[She] should have been safe out there. These should have been the most exciting days of her life spreading her wings in the world. Instead, someone else has brutally taken Karli's life and I am so heartbroken.
"My family is broken ... All we have for the love of Karli are memories, photos and stories."
Prior's inability to remember why she crossed the centre line was disrespectful and an "appalling lack of truth", Craig said.
"For me, I can deal with the truth and heal. However, with this tragedy I am struggling to come to terms with not knowing why the car completely crossed into the opposite lane."
He asked that the court impose a confined custodial sentence on Prior for her crimes.
"I can never forgive the driver of the car for what she did to Karli, there are no excuses. Karli was so wonderful. I loved her so much and truly hope we will meet again on the other side.
"This tragedy is most definitely the worst thing that will ever happen to me in my life."
Debra told the court of the crushing, overwhelming grief that had gripped her since her daughter's death.
"March 3 was the worst day of my life ... I was pottering around home when I answered a knock at the door to find two police officers on my doorstep ... They told me my beautiful daughter Karli had been killed.
"The bottom fell out of my world. My mind shut down and I walked around in daze trying to contact Craig. I will never forget the stricken look on his face and his gasps for breath as he heard the news. We collapsed on the floor and cried."
She spoke of her pain at having to identify Karli's body and not being able to hold her.
"In my mind's eye I could see her on the side of the road with no one to hold her. Lying there alone. My heart breaks every time I think of it. I just want to hold her in my arms."
Debra said her daughter was a "light in this world" who was loving, courageous and family oriented.
"As a mum, I have spent my children's lives loving, nurturing and supporting them to make good choices and trying to give them the skills to protect them in this life. It breaks my heart that I could not protect Karli from the offender's choices. It is my waking nightmare."
Debra, too, struggled to come to terms with Prior's statement that she couldn't remember the crash and said it "belittles my daughter's life and death".
"I am not seeking retribution but I have a need for there to be recognition of the immensity of what has happened.
"People say Karli is with us in spirit, they say she had a beautiful send-off and we will have wonderful memories. But I don't want any of that. All I want is to have Karli back and I know this can never happen. The pain is unbearable but we have to go on as best we can as a family, holding Karli close."
Siblings Aaron and Kirstin spoke of their hurt and anger towards Prior.
"In November I get married and I have to get married without my sister now because of Nakeeta," Aaron said.
"When I think about losing Karli my heart breaks. It breaks because I miss her but also because of what you stole from her.
"Karli doesn't get to raid my mother's vege garden again, or my pantry, because you crossed the centre line and killed her. Karli doesn't get to hop in the car and spend the weekend at the snow with my dad any more because you crossed the centre line and killed her. She doesn't get to find her love, get married and have her own children, because you killed her."
Kirstin said a world without her sister was a world where the sun didn't shine.
"Karli's enormously bubbly laugh and infectious smile, giving love and kindness to everyone she met, her incredible intelligence, absolute wit and enthusiasm will forever be mourned.
"You have not only managed to end the life of an exceptionally amazing human but you have effectively destroyed and devastated so many lives and that can never be forgiven or forgotten.
"My sister is my absolute best friend, the other half of me, my soulmate. I have an intense craving inside me that is only growing every day to see Karli. I am terrified of having to live the rest of my life without Karli by my side.
"I will never, ever in a million years forgive you. You are the only reason my wonderful blessing of a sister is dead. I do not feel for you. I do not care for you. I despise the very thought of you. Karli did not stand a chance against you and it makes me sick to my stomach to see you while my sister is cold in a box."
Prior's second victim, Taipeti, said she sought justice for Karli.
"That fateful day, I lost a friend but most of all the Rowe family lost a sister and daughter.
"You say you can't remember what happened but you sit there today crying. That's unfair for us.
"It's been five months, I'm still off work. I suffer from PTSD, concussion, Karli's not here. I attend physio daily. My feelings toward you have been really hateful. I know nothing's going to bring back my friend but I hope justice is served.
"You run me over, chick. You don't have the right to cry. You killed my friend. You killed her and injured me and we have to live with that for the rest of our lives."
Prior's lawyer Tony Balme said Prior and her family wanted to express their deepest apologies and remorse to the Rowe family.
"Miss Prior has made efforts to communicate her apology and remorse through letters. She entered an immediate guilty plea at her first appearance and was prepared to enter restorative justice, though she respects the family's decision not to proceed.
"She's an experienced driver. At the time of the crash she was 18 and had her full licence. There was some cellphone usage but that was before the Tikitere turn-off. Her brother was holding her phone as it operated on speaker phone so she could give a friend directions to Rotoiti.
"At the time of the collision, a vexed matter for the victim's family, the defendant cannot provide any explanation as to how she ended up on the other side of the road. She cannot point to any single thing that led to her failing to negotiate a relatively routine bend in the road.
"For that fatal instance, she was not a competent driver. She cannot say why. The consequences of that, a momentary loss of concentration, of course are horrendous and she has to live with those for the rest of her days."
Judge Phillip Cooper noted the immense pain caused by Karli's loss but said victim impact statements were not an avenue to "rant at the defendant".
"To say to a defendant that she's not allowed to cry because she feels your pain, I feel, is quite wrong.
"One of the only positive things in a proceeding like this, is for the defendant to hear the pain and sorrow her actions have caused.
"Her carelessness caused absolute catastrophe and nothing that this court can do can make up for the loss of Karli."
Judge Cooper sentenced Prior to 150 hours' community service, 12 months' disqualification from driving and ordered her to pay $20,000 in reparations to the Rowe family and Taipeti.
Outside court, Craig told the Rotorua Daily Post he understood the court's constraints in sentencing Prior but was disappointed in the law.
"My daughter lost her life and someone was clearly in the wrong but there are no real consequences. New Zealand law needs major reform. It's a shocking situation and one many New Zealanders aren't aware of until they lose a family member."
The events of March 3
The police summary of facts, previously released to the Rotorua Daily Post, said the day of the crash was fine and the road was dry.
Prior was travelling east on State Highway 30 near Tikitere on a 100km/h road.
"As she approached an easy left-hand corner she failed to keep within the eastbound lane and crossed into the opposing westbound lane."
At the same time, Rowe and Taipeti were travelling in the opposite direction. Prior's vehicle crossed the centre line, colliding with the motorcycle Rowe was riding.
Rowe suffered multiple injuries and died at the scene.
The Subaru kept going on the wrong side of the road, colliding with the second motorcycle.
Taipeti and her motorcycle slid along the roadway, stopping in the road shoulder, but the car kept going, missing its right front wheel and with damage to the left front wheel until stopping in the road shoulder.
Prior and her passenger were not injured but all three vehicles were extensively damaged.