"It's like a nightmare you don't wake up from." So says the mother of a North Dakota man who was killed along with his wife and their two daughters in a car crash Thanksgiving morning. Leslie Dean-Webb tells KTVB the family had moved from Caldwell, Idaho, to North Dakota earlier this year and they had returned to Idaho to visit family for the holiday. After seeing Dean-Webb Wednesday, Anthony Dean, wife Chelsi, 5-year-old Kaytlin, and 20-month-old Avri left to visit more family in Montana; they stopped in Billings, Montana, to rest that night, the Billings Gazette reports. The last anyone heard from them was Thursday morning when Chelsi texted her grandma to say the family was on their way and would be to her house for Thanksgiving dinner around 11am, Dean-Webb posted on Facebook. They never arrived, and their relatives had no idea of their fate for more than 24 hours.
On Friday night, authorities in Montana found the family's Toyota 4Runner, which had come to rest nose-down in a creek after veering off Interstate 94, hitting a median, going off an embankment, and hitting a concrete bridge support pillar, the Idaho Statesman reports. The vehicle was towing another vehicle on a trailer at the time. Authorities believe speed was a factor in the accident, which is estimated to have occurred around 7am Thursday, just 30 minutes after Chelsi texted her grandmother. Anthony was an Air Force staff sergeant stationed at the Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota. "Words are not enough during a time like this," said a commander from the base in a statement. "AJ's family brought a light to our community, and this loss strikes each of us deeply. May their friends and family be granted strength and serenity to get through this sorrowful time." (A man who was shot while checking on his neighbor's home died on Thanksgiving.)