Wiremu Thompson's father says he prayed the police had got the wrong man when they came calling at the weekend.
Thompson was hit and killed by an alleged drunk driver outside Big Jim's Garden Centre, on State Highway 3, about 5am on Sunday while walking home to Bell Block from Waitara.
Whanau and friends visited the scene, which was blessed by Reverend Albie Martin, yesterday.
The 19-year-old's father, Dennis, said police arrived at his home with his nephew, who was with Thompson when he was hit, on Sunday morning.
"I was just hoping that it wasn't him, that was all that was in my head at the time, I was just praying it wasn't him," Dennis Thompson told the Taranaki Daily News yesterday.
He said his son was an adventurous young man who had attended an army training course in Trentham last year to help him find some direction in life.
"He loved it, he made a lot of friends while he was there.
"We had five or six stops on the way home so he could get chocolate, pies and all of the things that he had missed."
His mother, Sharon (Barney), said she would miss her son dearly.
"I will always remember and love him with all of my heart," she said.
Constable Viv Teremoana met Thompson while he was at the training course and described him as a shy young man who was very polite and respectful.
"He had a lot of dreams, he was asking a lot about joining the police and the army," Teremoana said.
"He was really good at helping the other cadets while he was there and he took the time out to show me how you are meant to do it (shine your boots), so they shine properly."
Thompson's uncle, Wol Polata, said he had a close friendship with Wiremu, who he called Billy.
"I visited his mother in hospital a couple of hours after he was born and asked her what's his name? When she told me Wiremu I said I'm not calling him that so I just called him Billy," Mr Polata said.
"I told him you don't need to call me uncle, I'm just Wol, we are mates."
Polata said his nephew was well liked and made friends easily.
"He got on with anybody. He could be a cheeky little bugger but he found it easy to make friends and once you were friends with him that was it - you were friends for life."
Thompson had recently got a job at Tegel in Bell Block and Polata said he was rapt to be working.
He said Thompson's death had left a big hole in the family.
A 37-year-old woman will appear in the New Plymouth District Court tomorrow charged with drink-driving causing death.
- © Fairfax NZ News