WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — A Williamsburg family is mourning the loss of 53-year-old Tammy Parsons — who tragically died after a loose wheel hit her side of the windshield while driving on Interstate 64 with her family Sunday.

The family was headed to Busch Gardens to check out the Howl-O-Scream event, and they said it was one of Parsons’ favorite places to go with her kids and grandkids.

For her family, the drive ended in tragedy.

According to State Police, Tammy Parsons was driving a Ford Explorer east at around 12:22 p.m. on I-64 on Sunday, Oct. 1 when a loose tire wheel flew from a Jeep Renegade and traveled into the eastbound lanes of the interstate. From there, the wheel hit the driver’s side of the family’s Ford Explorer.

State Police said Parsons had serious, life-threatening inquires and died at the scene.

Parsons’ fiancé, Joseph Palumbo, twin daughters and two grandkids walked away with no injuries.

Parsons is originally from Williamsburg, and the family moved back to the area eight months ago for a fresh start. Palumbo told 8News that Parsons was the glue that held the family together.

“This is how I’m going to look at it. [She] Gave her life to save everybody that was in that car,” he said. “We all walked away that day because of her.” 

As Palumbo continues to reflect on the accident, he said if it weren’t for Parsons’ daughter Skyler, the outcome could have been much worse.

“But when that tire hit, her second oldest daughter jumped up over her mom to help me slam that car into the guardrail so we would stop and not crash and possibly get killed,” he said. “That takes pure strength in my eyes. And you know what? That comes from their mom.” 

The family is trying to stay strong, because “that is what Tammy would have wanted.”

State Police said alcohol and speed were not contributing factors in the crash. The investigation is ongoing and charges are pending in connection to the driver of the Jeep Renegade whose wheel became lose.