Dean Johnson with mum Sue Martin
ABOUT 20 minutes into 2011, Sue Martin used Facebook to wish her son a Happy New Year. He would never read her message.
Dean Johnson, 18, had already suffered a blow to the head that would end his life in a fight at Streaky Bay shortly after midnight.
Ceduna detectives yesterday upgraded to manslaughter the charges against a Port Lincoln man, 19, who allegedly landed the blow. He was arrested at 12.30am on New Year’s Eve and initially charged with assault causing serious harm.
Mr Johnson died in the Royal Adelaide Hospital on Sunday.
The Port Augusta teen had been ringing in the New Year at Streaky Bay’s inaugural Live on the Lawn festival with his girlfriend and friends.
His mother had written the message to all her children and their partners on Facebook: “Happy New Year .. Ricky.. Randall.. Dean.. Jessie-May.. Sally-Ann.. Brad.. Roxy.. Skye.. Choppa.”
Streaky Bay District Council mayor Robert Stephens said New Year’s Eve celebrations in 2009 were in a dry zone but alcohol was permitted in a trial on Friday.
“We had a community meeting and organised so try again and see how it went,” Mr Stevens said.
“We’ve had a bit of a bad trot with a couple locals recently deceased, it doesn’t matter just because this bloke doesn’t come from here, it still affects the town. We’re a tourist town and fairly busy, you don’t want to see this happen anywhere.”
Mr Stevens said the council would debrief with police and local businesses before deciding whether to reinstate the dry zone for this year’s celebrations.
Mr Johnson’s friends and family took to Facebook to share their grief, posting on Ms Martin’s wall as well as a dedicated RIP Dean Johnson group.
“It was just Thursday we were riding and it doesn’t seem real at all, miss ya man & ride in peace, will be thinking of ya heaps!!” Ben Maule wrote.
From Nick Finn: “I love you dean! Ride in piece bro all us boys love u so much n we will take care of each other n jess for u just keep look out for us now bro x love u!”
Demi O’Hanlon said Mr Johnson would always be remembered.
“The group isn’t gonna be the same with out your cheeky smile around. You will never be replaced. There will always be a spot in each and everyone of our hearts for you. You’ll be greatly missed.”
On Ms Martin’s wall, Ellee Rook said Port Augusta would rally around Ms Martin.
“Can’t even think of what your going through to have something so precious to you leave :( just remember you have everyone in this town here to help yous through this hard time no matter how long it takes. Sorry for your loss thinking of yous xxx.”
Friends created another page, suggesting a petition to the local council to place a memorial at the local skate park in Port Augusta where Mr Johnson rode his BMX bike.
The charged man was refused police bail and held in the Ceduna lock-up.
He will appear via phone link up in the Elizabeth Magistrates Court today.