JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A family photo shows 31-year-old Daniel Dufek smiling and looking at his 1-year-old daughter, Ava.
The photo is one of Charles Williamson's favorite memories of his stepson with his little girl.
"He's the best dad. Anybody that knew Daniel knew how much he loved his daughter," said Williamson.
Dufek is now gone and Ava is fighting for her life at UF Health Gainesville.
The 2004 GMC Envoy they were traveling in at about 1:15 a.m. Friday morning veered off Interstate 95 north just past Baymeadows Road and was barely recognizable when emergency crews arrived.
The Florida Highway Patrol said the crash happened around 1:15 a.m.
Dufek was driving northbound on I-95 when he veered off into the shoulder, slamming into trees and flipping over, according to FHP. The SUV then caught fire.
"Somebody had pulled Ava out of the fire, out of the car," said Williamson.
Williamson said he is eternally grateful to the passerby who saved Ava's life.
Ava has at least four broken bones, abrasions to an ear and forehead and bleeding in her brain. Ava's mother tells Action News Jax that she'll undergo surgery Monday.
Williamson came out to the scene Friday afternoon to sift through the debris. He tried to salvage anything he could while fighting back tears.
"He cared about his daughter and he loved her. He loved her more than anything," said Williamson.
According to Williamson, Dufek was having a tough year before he was killed in the crash. He said Dufek was undergoing physical therapy rehabilitation after falling from a tree 37 feet high.
FHP said Dufek was wearing his seat belt and Ava was in a child safety seat. FHP is still investigating the cause of the crash.
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