A mother and her two young children died after their car struck an alligator on Interstate 95, slammed into a tree and burst into flames, authorities said.
Amber Stanley was driving her children, Autumn, 2, and Jack, 4, home to Florida from a weekend in South Carolina's Myrtle Beach when she hit a 9-foot gator in the middle of the busy expressway that runs up and down the East Coast.
The collision occurred about 12:49 a.m. Monday in South Carolina.
Josh Stanley is now the only living member of his family.
He said he and Amber were high school sweethearts. "She was the love of my life," he told the station. "We would've been together coming up on 10 years."
Stanley he wasn't able to travel with his family because he had to attend a work training course in Georgia.
"When I landed in Atlanta, I couldn't get a hold of her," he said. "The last think I said was, 'I love you and I'll talk to you later.'
"The last time I talked to my kids was when I was leaving. I hugged them and I said I loved them and I'd see them in a week. And I was going to miss them."
He knows they're dead, he told the station. But his heart and his head are on different tracks.
“I’ll hear some kid say ‘dad’ or something, and I’ll turn around and it’s not Jack or Autumn. But for a split second it’s just like ... my brain expects them to be there.
"It has just been really hard.”