The heartbroken mother of the young wife killed in a horror smash in Florida has talked of the anguish of losing her ‘best friend’.
Nanette Drake lost her beloved daughter Maryanne, 29, along with her husband Adam, 30, and his parents Sherry, 56, and Bryan, 59.
The family were on holiday in Florida to celebrate Bryan’s birthday when their hire car was obliterated by a Ford pick-up as Adam attempted a U-turn at a busy intersection when the vehicle’s satnav ordered him to turn around.
The Stephenson family, who had just been to see Elon Musk’s SpaceX rocket launch at the Kennedy Space Centre, all died at the scene.
Adam Stephenson and his wife Maryanne, pictured here by Click Orlando, were killed in the crash
Mr Stephenson’s wife Maryanne, 29, and his parents Brian Stephenson, 66, and Sheralyn T Stephenson, 56, also died after they were hit by this black Ford F-250 pickup truck. The impact was so ferocious that both vehicles left the road
Adam’s brother Sean survived the horror smash after he chose not to join the group at Kennedy Space Centre and remained at the family’s rented holiday home nearby.
Maryanne’s mother Nanette, 47, said: ‘She wasn’t only my daughter. She was my best friend.’
Speaking from her home in Bristol, where she was being comforted by Maryanne’s brothers, she said: ‘They were due to fly out tomorrow evening and be back on Thursday morning.
‘They were there for Adam’s dad Bryan’s birthday. They went to the Kennedy Centre to watch the shuttle launch.
‘She messaged me as the launch took place.
Adam Stephenson was driving his wife and his parents Sherry and Brian, identified in this picture by Click Orlando
‘She messaged me every day when she was over there. She wasn’t only my daughter she was my best friend.
‘They were trying for a family. They’ve got two cats which I’m now feeding.
‘She was wonderful, lovely, the best daughter a mum could wish for, she was my best friend.
‘Both of them were wonderful people and loved life. They were planning on going to Australia next year.’
Maryanne, who worked in HR at a nursery, and Adam had been together for six years and had been married for three.
Nanette added: ‘They had just bought their third house. They were doing really well for themselves.
‘Life was just beginning for them really. Maryanne only had a few close friends but she had a lot of friends.
‘I’ve rang them and they are all devastated as are Adam’s friends and family.
‘Our loss is bad enough, and Adam was like a son to me, but Adam’s brother has lost his brother and his mum and his dad all in one go.
‘It’s still not real, I can’t believe I’m speaking about them in the third person. Maryanne was wonderful with everyone she met.
‘She was just a lovely person. She was in child care for a lot of years, all her colleagues loved her, she was so easy to talk to.
‘Adam slotted into our family, he was brilliant.’
Friends have paid touching tributes to the family on social media.
Chantelle Jenkins wrote: ‘RIP Maryanne, she was a lovely girl in school. So tragic, thoughts go out to her family at this sad time.’
Michelle Milton-Morris commented: ‘RIP Maryanne Stephenson. Had the pleasure of working with you a few years ago. So sad. My heart goes out to your family.’
Daniel Fry wrote: ‘So sad, Maryanne was known to me not from going to school together but as a neighbour but good friend too whilst growing up.
‘Thoughts are with all of her family right now, very sad RIP Maryanne always remember the small memories we shared and even better memories seeing you and Adam on your wedding day when I supplied you lovely back drop and Disco. RIP.’
Julia Baldwin added: ‘Heart-breaking news to hear of, god bless everyone in this tragedy.’
Claire Hopes said: ‘This is so unbelievably gutting… know the family.’
The rented Mitsubishi saloon, which was being driven by Adam Stephenshon from Bristol, is seen mangled after the crash
Adam Stephenson, 30, was instructed by the device to turn around in a rented Mitsubishi saloon car as the family left the Kennedy Space Center because there had been a crash up ahead.
Mr Stephenson, his wife Maryanne, 29, and his parents Brian Stephenson, 66, and Sheralyn T Stephenson, 56, died after they were hit by a Ford F-250 pickup truck.
The driver of the truck told police there was ‘nothing he could do’ after smashing into the passenger side of the white saloon.
The white Mistubishi with Orange County plates was hit on the passenger side by the black pickup
It has been described as a ‘violent collision’ by Titusville Police Department which says the crash is still under investigation
The family, from Bristol, were pronounced dead at the scene in Sisson Road on the SR-405 intersection in Titusville, Florida.
It has been described as a ‘violent collision’ by Titusville Police Department which says the crash is still under investigation.
The sat nav in the vehicle was instructing Mr Stephenson to do a U-turn at the intersection due to a blockage on SR 407 – the original route from the Space Center back to Davenport where the family were staying.
This crash remains under investigation by the Titusville Police Department.
The rented white Mitsubishi saloon car can be seen mangled after the crash in Florida
The Titusville Fire Department at the scene of the crash which killed four British people all from the same family
Deputy Chief Todd Hutchinson said the truck driver, who escaped with minor injuries, told officers there was ‘nothing he could do’ to avoid the crash.
He added that Adam Stephenson’s ‘unfamiliarity’ with the area could have contributed to the smash.
Police said his brother – who has not yet been named – was also on the family holiday.
But he did not visit the Kennedy Space Center and was at their rental home in Davenport, Florida, at the time of the horror smash, officers said.
GPS in the vehicle was instructing a ‘U-turn’ at the intersection likely due to a road blockage on SR 407 – the original route from the Space Center back to Davenport where the family were staying
This crash remains under investigation by the Titusville Police Department
Speaking today, Deputy Chief Hutchinson, of Titusville Police, Florida, said: ‘At the point of the crash the GPS indicated that the GPS had rerouted them.
‘It had instructed them to do a U-turn at that location, which was an intersection.
‘It told them to go the other way because there was a crash up ahead of them.
‘They were in the process of making that U-turn at the time of the collision.
‘We think that one of the contributing factors was the unfamiliarity of the driver with the area.
‘The vehicle they collided with was a heavy duty Ford pick up truck driven by a local man who said that the vehicle pulled right in front of him and there was nothing he could do.
‘He was transported to the hospital with minor injuries.
‘All four of the people in the car died at the scene. Providing rescue personnel were not able to help them in any way. Unfortunately there was nothing they could do.’
The family, from Bristol, England, were on holiday in Florida at the time of the crash and had watched a rocket launch around an hour earlier, police said.
The Deputy Chief added: ‘The driver of the car was a male, the passenger was the wife of the driver and the driver’s parents were in the back seat.
‘We only know of one family member that stayed behind. He didn’t take the trip to Kennedy Space Center. He stayed behind.
‘When he noticed they didn’t return he called local law enforcement but they were already on their way to notify him.
‘He lost his brother, sister in law, his mum and his dad.’