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The last thing Graham Wilton-Jones remembers is his wife calling his name. "That was the last thing she said to me, then it all went black."

The couple had been driving to the Papamoa markets in Bay of Plenty last weekend when a ute crossed the centreline at the Maungatapu Bridge near Tauranga and wiped out their car.

"I had no room to move," said Graham. "Next minute I saw him coming towards me and it was a massive bang. I didn't have time to brake."

The other vehicle - which was driven by a 17-year-old - crashed into the Wilton-Jones' car on Diane's passenger side. The impact broke her neck, killing her.

"I looked over at my wife," said Graham, breaking down in tears. "It was terrible."

A week on, the grieving widower describes his heartache at the loss of his "best mate" - but also displays an amazing act of forgiveness.

He and his sons Shane and Chris say they are drawing on the strength of their Christian faith to get through the trauma.

They want the youth to recover so he can get on with his life. "We believe the Lord is with us," says Graham.

His sons have accepted an apology from the teen's mother for the tragedy and passed on their forgiveness to her son.

Graham and Diane had been driving to the market to set up their stall where they sold hand-made bags and hand-crafted rimu frames.

A person first on the scene got Graham out of the vehicle and to the side of the road. His own injuries prevented him from returning to the vehicle. "I said I wanted to go and help Di."

Recovering at his Welcome Bay home with two broken ribs, a broken sternum and extensive bruising to the left side of his body, Graham said he was dealing with his grief by talking to Diane. "I've talked to her lots, she's such a beauty."

The two married in 1964 and were together for 45 years.

Graham spoke of the love of his life who he met at a Blossom Festival dance in Hastings. "I asked her for the last dance. I knew she was `it' straight away; she was going to be my girl.

"She was just the most wonderful, sweetest woman you will ever meet in your life."

Diane trained as a nurse and practiced for 40 years. The couple supported each other through Graham's heart attack 14 years ago and the resulting 14 operations, including a double heart bypass. "We had a wonderful marriage, we were great mates."

Police are still investigating the crash. Senior sergeant Ian Campion says it is too early to ascertain if charges will be laid. Police are appealing for witnesses.

Meanwhile, the 17-year-old is in a stable condition in Tauranga Hospital. His mother, who did not want to be named, said she met with the Wilton-Jones family and appreciated their love and support. The family was now focusing on their son's recovery. "It has been devastating for us all, particularly our son who has no memory of the accident and is deeply upset by what has happened."

Graham Wilton-Jones hopes the accident will send a message to all drivers, especially the young, on the need to drive carefully.