AS Atwell father Wayne Chase anxiously awaits the sentencing of the man who pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of his 15-year-old son Mitch, he’s trying to turn his awful experience into something that can help others.
Mitch was riding an off road motorcycle on December 28, 2016 when another Atwell resident, Jude Nathan Francis (24) chased him in his black Mercedes Benz in the mistaken belief the bike was his.
Spooked, Mitch ran a give way sign because he was focused on his pursuer and slammed into a car on Cotswold Parade in Aubin Grove. Francis simply drove away, leaving the youngster lying in the road.
One of the first people on the scene was a teacher from Mitch’s school, who alerted Mr Chase to the accident.
“He was still lying on the ground when I arrived, so that was horrific,” Mr Chase recalls. “He had a lot of other injuries and they took him to Royal Perth Hospital, and I was thinking as long as his head was OK it’d be all right.”
But doctors informed Mr Chase and his ex-wife the damage to Mitch’s brain was so severe he was not responding to any tests and they decided to turn off his life support the next day.
“Just getting through each moment was so difficult; you almost lose the will to live,” he says of the dark days that followed.
“Mitch was more than just a son, he was my hero. His determination and drive resulted in him twice representing Australia in baseball with one occasion being at a world series in the USA.”
But Mr Chase says that in the aftermath of Mitch’s death he received so much support and love that it helped him get through and now he wants to channel his new lease on life to help others.
His written a book about his experience, All Heart, and created a Facebook page for others to discuss their grief and where he posts short video clips with advice on how to get through it.
“I’m not an expert, but I can be an ear for someone, and if that helps them it means I’m making a contribution and not just walking around in my own grief.”
He says even with his new cause, it’s still not easy. Following Francis’s court appearance in March where he pleaded guilty, Mr Chase and other supports confronted him outside the court; the angry confrontation made the news.
“I had the intention before going to not let the anger build up and not let it get the better of me, but then you’re in the court and they say ‘caused the death of’ and read out your son’s name, and it just gets overwhelming.”
He’s now focused on trying to keep his calm for Francis’s sentencing, which will be on June 12. For more information on the book, which Mr Chase is hoping to have published in July, head to his Facebook page allheart15, or email him on firstname.lastname@example.org
by STEVE GRANT