3 generations of same family die in car crash on Disney vacation

Four members of one Massachusetts family, including two children, were killed in a tragedy the Florida Highway Patrol called "unimaginable."
/ Source: TODAY

A Boston-area community is mourning the loss of three generations of one family after four family members died in a car crash on a Florida vacation in a scene that even left veteran first responders shaken.

Eight members of the Smith and Fay families, four adults and four children, were on a highway about 20 miles from Orlando on a trip to Disney World when their van was hit from behind and rolled over on Tuesday.

Four members of a Massachusetts family, (from left) Julie Smith, 41; Josephine Fay, 76; Scarlett Smith, 5; and Jackson Smith, 11, were killed in a car crash while in Florida on a vacation to Disney World. TODAY

Family members, neighbors and friends are mourning the loss of Julie Smith, 41, her 5-year-old daughter, Scarlett Smith, and her mother, Josephine Fay, 76, who were pronounced dead at the scene. Her son, Jackson Smith, 11, died at a Florida hospital on Wednesday from his injuries.

Also traveling in the van were Smith's husband, Shane Smith, 43, their other two children, Shalie Smith, 10, and Skylar Smith, 5, and Fay's husband, William Fay, 76, who all suffered minor injuries and have been released from the hospital, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

Authorities say a pickup truck driven by 26-year-old Lucas Dos Reis Laurindo plowed into their van going between 50 and 70 miles per hour after the family slowed down for rush hour traffic.

The driver has no prior citations or criminal history in Florida and authorities don't believe he was driving under the influence, but the Florida Highway Patrol told NBC News he is expected to face charges.

Authorities say a pickup truck rammed into the family's van from behind after they slowed down during rush hour traffic on a Florida highway. TODAY

"I don't think I've ever been to a scene where three generations of a family were immediately killed in a crash that they did nothing wrong, but simply were driving down a road,'' Lt. Kim Montes of the Florida Highway Patrol told Sam Brock of NBC News.

"Troopers knock on doors all the time to tell somebody that someone's not coming home, but when you have to tell a family member that they've lost half their family, it's unimaginable."

Two of the family's four children, Skylar Smith (far left), 5, and Shalie Smith, 10, (in dress) survived with minor injuries, while their two siblings were killed in the crash. TODAY

Their deaths have left the Massachusetts communities of Whitman and Weymouth mourning their losses. Darlene Staples, who helped care for all four children over the years as the director of a local daycare business, expressed her heartbreak.

"They're a beautiful family,'' she told Brock. "Our hearts are broken. They were wonderful children. They all were."

Family neighbor Sheila Howard also reflected on the tragedy.

"So sad, especially to see the baby,'' she said. "The baby had a whole life to live. It’s just a terrible thing.”