By Jeff Wagner

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Authorities say two people who died Sunday in a St. Francis crash have been identified as siblings.

Cassandra Marie Carlson, 23, and Josiah James Carlson, 21, both of St. Francis, died after their vehicle crashed into a tree and caught fire in Anoka County.

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Sitting outside her home on a chilly spring day, Deanna Carlson said she wasn’t shivering because of the cold but from the pain of a devastating loss only a mother can know.

(credit: CBS)

“Physically, my heart was shattered into a million pieces and all of them are in the bottom of my stomach right now,” she said. Her heart belonged to her children.

Josiah was an upstart handyman.

“He told me his goal was to be a foreman in the first two years with the company,” Carlson said.

Cassie was growing into her new job in sales.

“We always called her sassy Cassie because she was a free spirit and she didn’t care what anybody thought,” Carlson said.

Carlson said the two siblings had a close bond. Late Saturday night, she said Cassie went to pick up Josiah from a friend’s house to be his safe ride home, but they never made it back.

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Their car crashed into a tree along 229th avenue northwest and caught fire just after 1 a.m. Sunday morning. Carlson and family members went out searching for them. She said when they tracked the location of Cassie’s phone, it took them to a towing company in Bethel. Panic was beginning to set in.

“I was afraid to come home,” Carlson said.

(credit: CBS)

When she pulled up to her driveway, her worst fears came true. She said there were squad cars and a coroner’s van parked outside.

“I just started screaming, ‘no, no,'” she said.

The next 24 hours were filled with tears, confusion, but also hope.

“There has to be something that’s beautiful that’s gonna come out of this. I just know it has to be that way,” Carlson said.

So far, it’s been through her children’s friends who’ve stopped by to share stories about two loving people known for helping others through tough times.

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“Made all the difference in the world to some of these kids out here. I had no idea that (Cassie and Josiah) affected people like that,” she said. “Both him and Cassie, their hearts, they would do anything for anybody even if it put them in the hole in the bank account.”

Jeff Wagner