For the family of Michael Bruce, the death of the 29-year-old is like a spoke missing from its wheel.
"Our wheel will be a little wobbly for a little while," his mother Rita Bruce said Wednesday.
Michael Bruce died Monday after a crash on Interstate 985 near Buford Drive.
He was the kitchen manager at Wild Wing Cafe on Jesse Jewell Parkway in Gainesville, where owner/operator Trish Hall said Bruce was one of the most beloved members of the staff.
Bruce was instrumental in helping Hall at the Suwanee location, when the restaurant was short on help and needed training, she said.
"He was the first one to rise to the occasion, and it was quite a challenge," Hall said. "And he took it on with passion."
Bruce, who was known as "Thumper," got his nickname from the sound he made falling off of a skateboard. His mother said he would use his passion of skateboarding as a way to help other kids in hard times.
"He would take them skateboarding and spend time with them and make them feel important," Rita Bruce said.
With a passion for food, Michael Bruce was in the process of applying to culinary school. The Dawsonville man enjoyed cooking for the comfort and joy it brought others, Rita Bruce said.
"It was a great way to bring people together, and our last Thanksgiving he was right in the kitchen right beside his brother," the mother said.
Michael Bruce recently got married to wife Corbin, who he had dated for six and a half years, Rita Bruce said.
"One thing that's really helped me through the mourning and grieving right now is reading what people say about him," Rita Bruce said. "The first thing people say is he had such a pure heart."
According to a Gwinnett County police report, Bruce was driving southbound around 3:30 a.m. Monday on the interstate. Bruce, and Jeny Jackson, of Oakwood, both intended to exit onto Buford Drive, according to the police report.
"(Bruce's car) attempted to pass (Jackson's car) on the right shoulder while attempting to exit," according to the report. "(Bruce's car) struck (Jackson's car) in the rear which caused (Jackson) to lose control and strike the guardrail on the left side of I-985 south."
Bruce's car struck a tree along the ramp's shoulder.