Mum grateful son didn't kill anyone
On a frosty Southland morning, Biddy Poole thought her boy was dead and a mother's worst nightmare had come true.
The car he had been driving had left State Highway 1 north of Mataura and ploughed into a tree.
The force of the impact was so powerful, it sheared the car in half.
"When I came across the accident site I thought there was no way my boy was alive. I wasn't going to get my son back out of that," the mother of three said.
The back half of her son's car was sitting alone in the middle of the highway.
The roof was torn off and the back seat sat exposed like a couch on two rubber tyres.
"Getting there and coming across the back half of the car sitting in the middle of the road all by itself was the biggest and freakiest thing. And here's the front of it parked up by a tree," she said.
To her relief, her youngest son, 20-year-old Tane Moehau, was alive.
Nearly two weeks after her son walked away from a crash that should have killed him, Poole doesn't know if she wants to hug him or "kill him" herself.
She said her son had been drinking.
"That's the honest truth. There is no getting around that", she said.
"No doubt he will get some sort of charges from police but as mother I am grateful he is alive to face a judge and the consequences of his actions rather than be putting him in the ground."
Poole is also grateful he didn't kill anyone.
"It does sound horrible but I am glad he was the only one in that car. I'm glad he hit a tree and not another car," she said.
"It could have been so much worse.
"He was drinking with his brother and one of his cousins. One of them could have been in that car or he could have crashed into another car. We could have been dealing with another family's tragedy.
"My boy's actions could have stolen the lives of innocent people."
Police and firefighters told her they had never seen anyone walk away from from a crash that "left a car in pieces like that".
Moehau suffered two cracked ribs, split his liver, bruised his lung and got an abrasion on his kidney.
She hoped her son's miraculous escape would be the "kick up the bum" he needed.
"It's their choice to get in that car and drive; it's nobody else's but their own. Unfortunately, sometimes they make the wrong decisions.
"All you can hope for is they learn from those wrong decisions. Thankfully, my boy is still here and has that opportunity."
Emergency services were awesome, Poole said.
"They were amazing. I knew them and they knew me. We are from a tight-knit community. It makes it hard when you know everyone."
Poole said when she hears sirens, she still thinks about the day her son ploughed into that tree.
Poole hopes sharing her story would make her son and other young drivers think twice about getting behind the wheel after drinking.
"Something like this makes all those ads make sense. Think before you drink. Think before you drive," she said.
"Don't make a silly mistake and jump into that car and drive. Don't get in that car. Don't put other parents through what I've had to go through."
The simple act of having lunch with her son when he got out of hospital had never felt so good, she said.
"Ten days ago it could have been so different. I could have been burying him," Poole said.
Moehau did not return calls.
The Southland Times