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Marine Corporal, wife and infant son were fatally trapped inside burning car

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Three members of a military family have been killed after their car was involved in a fiery crash along Interstate 85.

According to Cherokee County Coroner Dennis Fowler, the family was killed Tuesday night in a fiery two vehicle crash on Interstate 85 near Gaffney. 

Fowler confirms 22-year-old United States Marine Corporal Luther Stephen Smith, IV, his wife, 20-year-old Angelica Smith and the couple's 6-month-old son, Preston Smith died in the collision.

The crash happened at 8:12 p.m. in the southbound lanes at the 97 ½ mile marker.

"Mrs. Smith was driving the Nissan truck north on I-85 when she lost control and crossed the median entering the south bound lanes striking a tractor trailer rig head on," Folwer said." Corporal Smith was in the front passenger's seat while the infant was in a child safety restraint in the back seat."

The Smith's vehicle and the tractor trailer burst into flames on impact, trapping the family of three inside the vehicle, he said.

"The driver and passenger of the tractor-trailer were able to get out of the truck uninjured with the help of passing motorists," Fowler said.    

Autopsies were performed on the three victims Wednesday afternoon confirming all died as the result of multiple blunt force body trauma prior to the fire.

The family had been visiting relatives in Alabama and was en route back to Corporal Smith's assigned base in Quantico, Virginia when the collision occurred. 

"He was due to report by noon Wednesday," the coroner said.

All identification of the deceased was destroyed in the fire causing the Fowler to rely on dental records obtained from the military to make positive identification that came late Wednesday.

"There were some military documents that were in a partially burned back pack in the bed of the truck and others that were located on the ground at the scene that lead us to Quantico," Fowler said. 

"This is very traumatic. My prayers are with their family and the entire military that has lost a soldier." 

The coroner's office and South Carolina Highway Patrol are continuing with their investigations into the collision. 

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