That's how close 25-year-old Ramon Jesus "Jesse" Steele came to surviving a night out with his buddies.
He was blocks from home after a night out with two friends when the car in which he was a passenger slammed into a tree. The force of the high-speed crash was so great, the 2002 Jaguar split in two. Steele was trapped in the car and died at the scene. Another friend was seriously injured in the crash but survived. The driver walked away from the scene and remains on the run.
"I went into shock and I kept calling him and asking him to please answer the phone," Malisa Steele said of the morning her son died. "The first three hours, all I could do was call. I didn't cry because I couldn't believe it."
The early-morning crash was two years ago, June 23, 2011, and Steele is still awaiting justice for Jesse's death. She made a public plea Friday morning, asking for information about the man who deputies say was driving the car the night her son was killed.
One of Jesse's high school friends, Reyes Jovan Miranda, was behind the wheel that night, authorities say. A search warrant for his arrest on a manslaughter charge was issued after the accident, but he has disappeared.
Detectives occasionally receive tips on Miranda's whereabouts. Most recently they learned he may be living in Nogales, Sonora, said Deputy Jesus Bañuelos, a spokesman for the Pima County Sheriff's Department.
"Reyes was always hot-rodding that car, driving like a maniac," Steele said. "I want him to be responsible, be a man and turn himself in. ... Don't be a coward, do it for Jesse."
At the time of the accident, Jesse was a stay-at-home dad, taking care of his daughter, Persephone, while her mother took classes to work in a pharmacy. His interest in Greek mythology led him to name his daughter, now 6, after the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, the goddess of springtime.
Persephone remains traumatized by her father's death and is receiving counseling, Steele said.
"He put his life on hold for the baby," Steele said. "Now my granddaughter has to be without a father. She was so affected because she was with him 24-7. She won't even eat spaghetti anymore. That was the last meal he made for her."
Anyone with information about the crash or Miranda's whereabouts should call 911 or 88-CRIME.
Contact reporter Kimberly Matas at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 573-4191.