A Florida mother and her two young children died after their car struck an alligator that had crawled onto a South Carolina highway early Monday morning.
Amber Stanley, 24, was driving along Interstate 95 in Orangeburg County with her 4-year-old son, Jack, and 2-year-old daughter, Autumn, when their vehicle hit the reptile around 1 am., according to television station WLTX in Columbia, South Carolina.
The collision sent the family’s 2011 Kia Soul off the side of the road and into a tree, causing the car to burst into flames.
Stanley and her two children died from burn injuries, WLTX reported.
Amber Stanley’s husband, Josh, was on a work trip when the crash occurred. He told People he knew something was wrong when he landed in Pennsylvania and couldn’t reach Amber.
Josh Stanley told television station WJAX in Jacksonville, Florida, that his wife and children had been traveling to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, to see a friend and enjoy some time at the beach.
An officer from the South Carolina Highway Patrol later called to tell him what happened.
“I broke down,” Stanley told People. “They were my life. Everything we had was built around each other. We were building our family up. I was just crying.”
He said he’s still in disbelief that they’re gone, even as he tries to find money for their funeral.
Stanley said he’s going to miss how happy his wife was, how she’d just smile at him and hug him, tell him she loved him.
“Everyone keeps saying, ‘If you need anything, let me know,'” Stanley told WJAX, his voice trembling with emotion. “I’d love to have me family back, but obviously no one can do that.”