Motueka woman Zoe Bishop's life cut short
Zoe Bishop was looking forward to her first overseas trip when her life was tragically cut short on her favourite stretch of road.
Her mum, Josie Bishop said her 22-year-old daughter was a gentle, kind-hearted person whose smile lit up the room.
"Everybody liked her, she was just so easy to like.
"Family was everything to Zoe, she couldn't wait to have a family and kids of her own."
Zoe had moved back to Motueka from Christchurch nine months before the accident and was working as a receptionist at the Hotel Grand Mercure in Monaco, Nelson.
An avid All Blacks and Crusaders fan, she loved the beach and spending time with her friends and family. She called Motueka home, and the Coastal Highway leading into the town was her favourite piece of road to travel on.
The former tourism student had planned a trip to Singapore and Thailand with her family, when her life was cut short by a driver high on methamphetamine and cannabis.
Forbidden driver Jonathon Ellis, 26, was driving towards Motueka on the Coastal Highway in May when he over-corrected and veered into the path of Zoe's car.
She was heading to the airport to pick up her twin sister Jasmine on the morning of the accident, excited at the prospect of spending the weekend with her family.
Zoe wasn't attending a wedding as previously reported in court documents, but the Bishops were gathering to plan the wedding of a close family member.
After the accident, those wedding plans were put on hold.
Josie said the day her daughter was killed continuously played on her mind.
She wondered how things could have been different.
If she hadn't been late leaving her home in Rangiora for Nelson, because her alarm didn't go off, they might have travelled to the airport together.
If Jasmine's flight from Wellington hadn't been delayed, Zoe would have been on the road at a different time.
The last time she spoke to Zoe was from a cafe in Culverden.
"I said; 'I won't talk now, we'll be there soon'."
When Josie arrived at her parents house in Motueka, her father said Zoe was missing. They were concerned she hadn't been at the airport to meet Jasmine.
"That's when we really started to panic."
They were aware of the accident on the highway, so Josie phoned the police but they were unable to tell her anything.
Not long after, a police car pulled into their driveway and she knew it wasn't good news.
"We kept thinking, she is strong, she is stubborn, she will get through this."
Josie said identifying Zoe's body was the hardest thing she had ever done. It was something no parent should ever have to do.
"I just keep thinking it should have been me."
An autopsy revealed that the impact of the accident broke Zoe's neck. The family were told it was likely she wouldn't have seen it coming.
The accident had a devastating impact on the family and she was still struggling to hold it together.
Returning to Nelson was also difficult. She would think of the last time she spoke to Zoe, where they would have been on the road when she died.
"Driving home was fun but I find it so hard to drive up here now, it's almost haunting."
Josie said she struggled to sleep at night. Zoe's siblings Jasmine and Vaughan were also struggling.
"I never knew emotional pain could be so physical, it hurts and you can't breathe."
She was very close to her daughter, they both loved rugby, and Josie was glad they had travelled to Auckland together for the Rugby World Cup final in 2011.
"We were very close, we would talk about anything and everything."
The family were living in Christchurch when the earthquakes happened and Josie pushed for Zoe to return to Motueka, which she had always considered home.
Zoe went to Lower Moutere School and Motueka High School before finishing her education at Rangiora High School.
"She had this huge bucket list of what she wanted to do.
"We just had everything planned and then she was wiped out.
"She was such a good person, it was such a waste."
Josie wanted to speak about Zoe to give her a voice.
She was angry at Ellis and the justice system and felt the family hadn't had the chance to be heard.
"If you get in a car on drugs or drink drive then it's as bad as loading a gun.
"Nothing will bring Zoe back but we have to do something about this pain."
Ellis will be sentenced in the Nelson District Court on December 21.