The Florida man who lost his family in a crash on Interstate 95 says he’s still processing his emotions following their deaths.
"I know what happened, but I'm still kind of processing, though," Josh Stanley said. "I'll be walking around and I'll just see somebody out of the corner of my eye and I'll be like it's him but I know it's not, it's just the first thing my brain goes to."
Amber Stanley, 24, along with her 4-year-old son, Jack, and her 2-year-old daughter, Autumn, all from Callahan, Florida, died after their vehicle hit an alligator near Holly Hill early Monday morning.
The car, investigators said, ran off the left side of the road, hit a tree and caught fire. They died of thermal injuries.
No others were injured.
Josh Stanley, now the sole survivor of his family, said he was working out of town as his wife and two children traveled through South Carolina. Stanley says the three were headed to Myrtle Beach for a getaway.
Josh said the last time he spoke to his wife was when he was boarding a flight in Atlanta.
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"The last time I talked to my wife was when I landed in Atlanta for my connecting flight. I talked to her and told her I loved her," he said.
After hearing from South Carolina officials, Pennsylvania state troopers located him and delivered the news that his family had died.
"When I landed in Pennsylvania, I tried calling and calling. I was worried because I knew her and the kids were on the road headed up to Myrtle Beach," Stanley said. "The state troopers came by where I was training for work and they told me."
Andrew Grosse, an alligator biologist with the Department of Natural Resources, said alligators tend to move around during April and May because it's the peak of mating season.
"They're going to try and be in water somehow when they're moving but I would bet that they do especially at night, more of them cross," Grosse said. "I know certain places on 95 that have a little bit of water and a median in the middle and they're probably some that kind of zip across there pretty quickly."
Josh said funeral services will be held on Sunday, which would have been his wife's 25th birthday.
"I just want everybody to know how wonderful they were. I just wanted somebody to know about them," Stanley said. "I don’t understand why it happened. Just a quick instant out of nowhere just took my whole family away. I’m grateful for every single second I had with them but I’d trade anything for a few more."