A family of four from Palo Alto died over the weekend as they began a three week summer camping trip in Canada.
Robert Howard, his wife Ana Maria Dias and their two daughters Samantha and Veronica were driving in Kootenay National Park when a tractor trailer crossed the center line and slammed into them. The crash caused an explosion and fire. The family all died inside their vehicle.
"This trip I know they were looking forward to Banfur Jasper and Lake Louise and those were places that Robert had been to growing up and I think they were looking forward to sharing that with the girls," Robert's sister-in-law Cindy Howard said.
Cindy Howard said it seems impossible that a family that was so full of life could just be gone so quickly. The families were close, living within a couple miles of each other.
"Whenever I ran into Robert or Anna Maria or the girls it just brightened my whole day. They were always happy and enjoying life and that is something that we tell ourselves. They were doing what they loved and they were together as a family," Cindy Howard said.
The couple is described by many as generous and creative. They were heavily involved in their children's school and the community.
Both friends and family said they are having a hard time wrapping their heads and hearts around such a sudden and difficult loss.
The driver of the truck that struck the family survived. He was questioned by authorities, but has not been charged with a crime.