Missing Air Force Family of Four Found Dead in Thanksgiving SUV Crash: Police

November 25, 2018 Updated: November 25, 2018

A family of four that went missing in Montana on Thanksgiving Day was found dead in a damaged SUV over the weekend. Officials believe their vehicle crashed, citing speed as a potential factor.

The Air Force confirmed Staff Sgt. Anthony James Dean died in the crash along with his wife, 25-year-old wife Chelsi Kay Dean, and their two daughters, Kaytlin Merie Dean, 5, and Avri James Dean, 1, according to Fox News on Nov. 25.

Dean was assigned to the 69th Maintenance Squadron at Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota. Chelsi Dean was also a member of the Manvel Fire Department in North Dakota.

“Words are not enough during a time like this,” Maj. Eric Inkenbrandt, 69th Maintenance Squadron commander, told the network. “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.”

Officials with the Montana Highway Patrol found the crash site on Nov. 24 in Huntley, located about 10 miles from Billings, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.

The Deans were driving from a relative’s home in Caldwell, Idaho, to Ekalaka, Montana, when they disappeared. The two towns are about 260 miles apart.

Officials said they were heading down Interstate 94 when their Toyota went off the road and into a creek. Before resting in the creek, it flew into the air and hit a concrete support.

The Montana Highway Patrol wasn’t able to find the SUV until a cellphone was pinged, the report said.

“Mom and Grandma heart is broken into a billion pieces,” Anthony Dean’s mother said via Facebook, the Pioneer Press reported. “My poor babies,” she wrote. “I hope they didn’t suffer.”

All four people inside the car died at the scene, the Montana Highway Patrol said, adding that they believe speed was a factor in the crash, reported the Montana Standard publication.

A GoFundMe was set up for the family’s funeral. Prior to the crash, the family was listed as missing.

No other details about the accident were available, and it is under investigation, reported the Grand Forks Herald.

The family is originally from Caldwell, Idaho, and they moved to the Manvel base when Anthony Dean was reassigned there. He worked as an RQ-4 Global Hawk crew chief, the Herald reported.

U.S. traffic deaths fell 3.1 percent in the first six months of 2018, according to preliminary figures released in October, Reuters reported.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also reported that for all of 2017 traffic deaths fell by 1.8 percent to 37,133 after traffic deaths rose sharply in the previous two years, according to final figures.

The U.S. traffic fatality rate fell to 1.08 deaths per 100 million miles traveled for the first half of 2018. The fatality rate in 2017 was 1.16 million deaths per 100 million miles traveled—the second highest rate since 2008.

Traffic Deaths Down Across US

U.S. traffic deaths fell 3.1 percent in the first six months of 2018, according to preliminary figures released in October 2018, Reuters reported.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that 2017 traffic deaths fell by 1.8 percent to 37,133 after traffic deaths rose sharply in the previous two years, according to final figures.

The U.S. traffic fatality rate fell to 1.08 deaths per 100 million miles traveled for the first half of 2018.

The fatality rate in 2017 was 1.16 million deaths per 100 million miles traveled—the second highest rate since 2008.

Reuters contributed to this article.

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