All his life, Tim Cox loved cars.
He was training to become a mechanic, he had rebuilt his own vehicle and his favourite movies were The Fast and the Furious series.
The 19-year-old from Rutherford died beside a stretch of road at Bishops Bridge on Wednesday, after his car crashed into a telegraph pole at about 9pm.
Police are investigating the cause of the crash on Old Maitland Road, about 10km from Maitland.
Tim’s family – mother Michelle, father Peter and sisters Emily, 21, Isabella, 15, and Tegan, 10 – paid tribute to their son and brother as a young man who was fiercely loyal to his family and friends.
“He was the most loving gentle giant that anyone could possibly think,” said Michelle, who shared her birthday with her only son.
“He was the most beautiful boy. A brilliant boy. He had that gentle giant in him. He’s just been taken too soon, too young.
“He built that car from scrap. To see the mangled mess that it was in last night, I can’t describe it enough. It didn’t even look like his car.”
Michelle said Tim’s idol was Paul Walker, a star of The Fast and the Furious movies who died in a car crash in 2013.
She said Tim had planned to get a tattoo tribute to his hero on his arm. She said she hoped he was now with his idol.
Tim’s father Peter said he wanted his son to be remembered for his loyalty to family and friends.
“He was always there for us when we needed him,” he said.
Tim grew up in a close family. He went to school at St Paul’s at Rutherford, St Catherine’s at Singleton and St Joseph’s, Lochinvar.
The teenager was a talented artist who enjoyed drawing and street art.
He had started a mechanics course at a trade college and worked at McDonalds.
“He just wanted so badly to be a mechanic, to work on cars and trucks. That was his love,” Michelle said.
Tim had a particularly strong bond with his older sister Emily – they were close mates growing up.
They spent many weekends with their grandmother, being spoiled with fast food and sweets.
“His best quality was just being there for people. He always had a heart of gold,” Emily said.
“He could be a shit stirrer, but you could tell he was joking and he was always there for his friends.”
Emily said Tim had become one of the key figures in the life of her three-year-old daughter Ally.
“It’s really hard to try and tell her that Uncle Timmy’s not coming home,” she said.
“He would have been an amazing father.”
Michelle said she understood that a passerby – a man – stopped after the crash and held Tim as he passed away.
She said she wanted to thank that man.
“I can’t imagine how those poor people feel to have had that experience,” she said.
Dozens of messages of condolence were posted for Tim’s family on social media on Thursday, as news of the tragedy spread across the Hunter.
Tim’s family said anyone who wanted to leave a tribute could do so at the family home in Rebecca Close.
His bedroom is being left untouched as a place for friends and family to reflect.
The family said anyone who wanted to pay their respects would be welcome, but they have asked that people contact them first.
“I’m missing my mate – my best friend,” Michelle said.
“I think he’s flying free. He was beautiful.”
Family and friends will farewell Tim on Wednesday, March 22 at St Paul’s Catholic Church, Young Street, Rutherford at 11.30am.