HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - "I've always been the passenger of one. I really wanted to ride one. I thought, 'Why not? Give it a go!'" Tyson Dagley said.
That's what drew the 20-year-old Australian tourist to Aloha Jet Ski on August 5 and put him on a Yamaha jet ski in Keehi Lagoon, five days into a vacation he worked two years to pay for.
"I was just a 20-year-old on a jet ski having fun, that's the way I look at it. It's a watercraft that goes around in circles fast. Every jet ski out there was doing the same thing," he said.
In an exclusive interview Seven Network Australia shared with Hawaii News Now, Dagley insists he wasn't being reckless.
But police reports said he wasn't paying attention, was going fast and standing on the jet ski. The report said he was looking at his girlfriend, Natasha Ryan, who was taking video and photographs of him.
Dagley remembers seeing 16-year-old Kristen Fonseca up ahead on another jet ski.
"I remember coming around and putting myself a bit to the left of her because I had the faster jet ski. So I knew I was probably going to catch up to her in the end. I remember Tash just yelling out, 'Watch out!' The next thing I remember is being carted off in the ambulance," he said.
Fonseca died a day later of a brain injury.
Dagley was hospitalized and learned of her death a few days after the accident. He calls that "the worst thing."
"It's not something that a 20-year-old wants," he said. "In the end I'd rather it be me than her."
"I've seen pictures of the beautiful young girl," his father, Alan, said. "There's nothing we can say or do that's either going to bring her back, or make it easier on them."
Dagley faces up to one year in prison when he's sentenced for negligent homicide on September 5. He apologizes for the grief he has caused Kristen Fonseca's family. He realizes they may never forgive him.
"I'm sorry," he said. "I'd tell them that I'd give anything, anything for her to be back with them. I know if I had a daughter I'd feel the same way."