Mom, 2 kids die after car hits alligator in South Carolina

Authorities say a mother from Florida and her two young children died after their car hit an alligator on an interstate in South Carolina. (WCIV)

BOWMAN, S.C. (AP/WKRC) - Authorities say a mother from Florida and her two young children have died after their car hit an alligator on Interstate 95 in South Carolina.

Orangeburg County Chief Deputy Coroner Sean Fogle said 24-year-old Amber Stanley, her 4-year-old son Jack and 2-year-old daughter Autumn all died from burns after their car hit a tree and caught fire after hitting a nine-foot-long alligator.

"It's been hard," said Josh Stanley, the husband and father of the victims, courtesy WCIV. "I know what happened, but I'm still kind of processing though. I'll turn around and it's not Jack or Autumn but for a split second, you know? It's just like my brain sort of expects them to be there but I know they're not, so it's just been really hard."

Stanley said the three were returning home from a trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Highway Patrol Lance Cpl. Judd Jones says the alligator was crossing the northbound lanes of I-95 near the Interstate 26 exit when Stanley's Kia Soul hit the animal around 12:50 a.m. Monday.

Fogle says the family was from Callahan, Florida.

"The main time (alligators are) moving is right now when it's cooler and then in the fall as well," Andrew Grosse, an alligator biologist with the Department of Natural Resources, told Carolina Balchunas from WCIV.

While alligator strikes are not common, he said they're capable of doing a lot of damage.

"Imagine a fallen tree in the road," said Grosse. "You're talking about an animal that's maybe this big around and if it's a male, it's probably a little beefier than that, it's like running over a fallen tree that's in the middle of the road and on an interstate, that's just a lot for any vehicle to have to go over."

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