Devastated father's tribute to son killed in crash
AT JUST 23, former Murwillumbah miner Joel Hampton had seen more of the world and his own backyard than most.
Known for his ever-present smile, the keen adventurer was out in the bush doing what he loved when his young life was cut short on a remote road near Mt Isa on the weekend.
Having grown up in the country, Joel felt most at home in the great outdoors.
During a day off from his work at a North Queensland crushing plant, he had been enjoying his other favourite pastime - having a drink with friends - when he and another man decided to go four-wheel driving around a dry creek bed on Saturday night.
Travelling in the passenger seat back to town, Joel was killed instantly when the driver lost control and crashed into a power pole.
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The driver was critically injured and died in hospital.
This week, Joel's devastated family and friends paid tribute to an irreplaceable, son, brother and mate.
Joel's parents Damian and Loraine received the news their son had died early Easter Sunday.
Still in disbelief, Mr Hampton said that, just like everyone else, he had always thought this kind of tragedy only happened "to other people".
He said it seemed impossible that he and his family would be able to go on without Joel but the best they could do was remember the good times - dad and son fishing trips in the Northern Rivers and BMX riding to name a few.
Over the years, Joel had also lived in Melbourne and Airlie Beach, travelled around the outback working in the mines, visited Taiwan, Thailand and recently returned from a trip to Europe and Turkey.
He had a large circle of friends, worked hard, "loved a drink", was fiercely patriotic - his dad said he was particularly proud of his recent visit to Gallipoli and hoped to one day return - and was a dear middle sibling to his big brother Matthew and little sister Teija.
"He was always happy...always energetic and just wanted to be around people," Mr Hampton said.
"He didn't die wondering...he was never one not to give something a go."
Funeral details will be announced at a later date.