It had been three hours since Justin Morrison called his dad t say he and his mother and sister were on their way from Davidsonville to his Greenbelt office.
Frantic that something was wrong, Glenn Morrison rushed home Saturday, past a gruesome accident in the westbound lanes of U.S. 50, to find state troopers from the Forestville barracks waiting for him to break the news: his wife, Darlene, his daughter, Andrea, 8, and Justin, 10, were dead -- victims of the fiery crash he had driven past just minutes before.
"I could see the tractor-trailer but nothing else," Mr. Morrison recalled yesterday.
A large tarp covered the charred wreckage of the family van, which had been stopped behind a disabled Chevrolet Blazer about noon. The van was rammed from behind by the tractor-trailer and burst into flames, trapping Mrs. Morrison, 37, and the children.
Yesterday, relatives gathered at Mr. Morrison's two-story, brick home in a small community off Davidsonville Road known as Tara.
William Morrison, the children's grandfather, wondered why the Blazer was stopped in the middle of the road.
"I want to hear that it's no one's fault," he said. "Because I don't want to deal with the anger."
Glenn Morrison stood in a basement exercise room, trying to fight back tears.
He recalled how he met his wife at a Christmas party in 1980, their marriage at the University of Maryland chapel on Aug. 1, 1981, and the births of their children in the years that followed.
"I'm going to miss their hugs and their support," he said. "I look forward to being with them when I see them again in heaven. We had a lot of love in this family."
Mr. Morrison, a mortgage officer, remembered how Justin loved lacrosse and football and played in the Davidsonville Athletic Club. His son excelled in his math, science and history classes at Davidsonville Elementary School.
"Justin was a strong young man," his grandfather said. "He stood straight with his head held high and looked the whole world right in the eye. He had a powerful personality."
Andrea, a third-grader at the same school, was different, her father said. She loved to read, excelled in English and enjoyed arts and crafts. She was a cheerleader for her brother's football team.
"Andrea was very artistic," Glenn Morrison said. "She was extremely sensitive and loving and caring."
Both children were active in the Davidsonville United Methodist Church Pioneer Club, where they studied the Bible and did crafts.
His daughter-in-law, a 1973 graduate of High Point High School in Prince George's County, had her real estate license, worked in an appraiser's office and had recently received her appraiser's license.
Her surviving daughter from a previous marriage -- Tiffany Croy, 18 -- said she was devoted to her children. She said her mother was to have picked her up after dropping the other children off at their father's office and the two of them were to go to Ocean City.
Services will be held for Mrs. Morrison and her children at the Davidsonville United Methodist Church on Central Avenue at 10 a.m. Thursday. The family will receive friends at Taylor Funeral Home in Annapolis between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. tomorrow.
Mr. Morrison asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to a trust fund for orphan children that he is arranging through his church.