BILLINGS, MT (RNN) - After a mother, father and two young children went missing while driving to visit family on Thanksgiving Day, authorities found their car in a creek following a crash that killed the entire family.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Anthony Dean, 25, and his wife Chelsi Dean, 25, contacted family Thursday morning, saying they would arrive in Ekalaka, MT, for Thanksgiving in the next five hours, The Bismarck Tribune reports.
But the North Dakota family, including 5-year-old Kaytlin and 1-year-old Avri Dean, never arrived.
All four family members died in a car crash Thursday, less than 15 miles from their last known location.
"It's the worst. It’s like a nightmare you don't wake up from," said Anthony Dean’s mother Leslie Webb-Dean in an interview with KTVB.
According to the Montana Highway Patrol, the Deans’ SUV veered off the road around 7 a.m. and into the median. It traveled along the median before going airborne off an embankment, where the car hit a concrete bridge support and landed in a creek.
The MHP was notified of the crash Friday night, The Billings Gazette reports. They suspect speed may have been a factor.
“My Mom and Grandma heart is broken into a billion pieces,” wrote Webb in a Saturday morning Facebook post.
Anthony and Chelsi Dean were high school sweethearts, Webb said.
Anthony Dean was in the Air Force, a career he’d had in mind since kindergarten, his mother told KTVB, and Chelsi Dean was a volunteer firefighter.
“Words are not enough during a time like this,” said Air Force Maj. Eric Inkenbrandt in a statement posted to Facebook. “AJ’s family brought a light to our maintenance community, and this loss strikes each of us deeply. May their friends and family be granted the strength and serenity to get through this sorrowful time.”
Despite her loss, Webb has taken some comfort in knowing how many people the family touched, according to KTVB.
“They were just amazing people. People reached out to me and said what wonderful people they were and how supportive they were and how great they were together,” she said.
The crash is still being investigated.
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