MACCLENNY, Fla. – A correctional officer who had been fighting advanced-stage lung cancer will be remembered as a loved and respected member of the community after he was killed in a fire that erupted when his car crashed into a detached garage in Macclenny Wednesday evening, his stepson said.
The Florida High Patrol continues to investigate why Larry Jones, 55, lost control of his car on his way home from work at Raiford State Prison and hit the carport at Pine Avenue and Birch Street -- just a block away from his home.
"I already had a feeling before the cops showed up and told us and talked to one of the deputies who is real good. He called me and let me know ahead of time so I could prepare my mom for everything before he got here," said Richard Allen, Jones' stepson.
Having to tell his mother the tragic news was extremely hard, Allen said.
"It was pretty difficult," he said. "I knew -- and I think deep down she had a feeling too."
Allen told News4Jax Thursday he and his entire family hadn't slept much over the last 24 hours, saying it had been a very long and difficult day knowing that his stepfather wasn't coming home.
"He was a great man. He was loved by a lot of people. He wouldn't hurt anybody. He's going to be really missed around here," Allen said.
Jones was diagnosed with lung cancer a year ago and had been receiving chemotherapy. Allen believes Jones' health may have had something to do with the accident, but he said they won't know until the medical examiner's office releases the autopsy report.
Allen described his stepdad as a fighter.
"He was trying to beat it, live as long as he could," Allen said. "It's just, something else got him before he could beat it."
Allen said the man living at the home where the crash happened works in his garage a lot. The homeowner told Allen he had just locked it up for the night before the accident.
But his other family members are also fighters, Allen said, and they will get through Jones' death one day at a time.