The heartbroken mum of a young wife killed in a horror smash in the US that left four family members dead said: “She was my best friend.”
Nanette Drake lost her beloved daughter Maryanne, 29, who died alongside her husband Adam Stephenson, 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 T-boned by a Ford pick-up as Adam attempted a U-turn at a busy intersection.
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 on Monday.
Adam’s brother Sean survived the horror smash after he chose not to join the group on the outing and remained at the family’s rented holiday home nearby.
Last night Maryanne’s heartbroken mum 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.
“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.”
A police statement from Titusville Police stated: “Four people from the same family died after a violent collision between two vehicles on State Road 405 at Sisson Road just after 6pm on Monday April 2, 2018.
“The preliminary investigation reveals that the driver of a white Mitsubishi sedan, Adam P Stephenson, 30, of Bristol, England, was traveling west on SR 405, made a left turn at the intersection of Sisson Road, into the path of an eastbound black Ford F-250 pickup truck.
“The heavy-duty truck violently impacted the passenger side of the small sedan.
“All four occupants of the sedan were pronounced deceased at the scene by arriving medical personnel.
“The passengers have been identified as Maryanne Stephenson, 29; Brian Stephenson, 66; and Sheralyn T. Stephenson, 56 -all from Bristol, England.
“The driver of the Ford pick up truck, James D. Walsh II, 28, of Ackard Ave Port St. John, was transported to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries.
“Investigators believe the Stephenson family had just left the Kennedy Space Center in their rental vehicle and were attempting to navigate back to their rental house in Davenport at the time of the crash.
“GPS in the vehicle was instructing a “U-turn” at the intersection, most likely because of an earlier crash with road blockage on SR 407 -which was the original GPS route from the Space Center for their trip back to Davenport.
“This crash remains under investigation by the Titusville Police Department.”