When Josh Miller opened a restaurant, he could have let the pressure of work get the best of him.
His James Island cafe has a funky approach: It combines coffee, wine and light fare with art, music and Jesus. Dubbed How Art Thou?, it shares office space with Seacoast Church, where Miller attended.
But Miller, its co-owner, helped make it work. After only six months, it started turning a profit.
And the whole time, the 33-year-old transplant from Illinois remained a family man, his relatives and friends said. He took his wife, Elizabeth, out on dates. He went home to his 22-month-old, Hannah, and 6-week-old, George, at a reasonable hour every day.
Last month, he declared on Facebook that he had the perfect wife, perfect daughter and now a "perfect little son."
And like every other, the day Miller died was supposed to be about that family.
After church Sunday, he took his children to their Folly Beach home for a nap. His wife stayed behind to pick up after worship services.
He was driving back to the church on James Island when his SUV collided with another vehicle. His two children in the back seat were injured, and Miller died at the scene.
"For most people, starting a business would have distanced him from his responsibility as a father," his pastor, Joey Svendsen, said. "For him, he just stepped it up.
"They were planning some family time Sunday."
Details about the wreck that killed Miller and 73-year-old James Minschew of Folly Beach were murky Monday as police continued to release little information. Miller's two children remained hospitalized, but they were expected to fully recover, according to Svendsen.
The crash happened about 1 p.m. and involved four vehicles: Miller's SUV, a pickup and two compact cars. It was on a four-lane stretch about 100 yards north of Bowens Island Road, where the speed limit is 45 mph. On either side of Folly Road is marsh.
Dennis Brown, director of Folly Beach Public Safety, said six people were injured, but he didn't release their names because paramedics are "still trying to pull together all the information."
He also wouldn't confirm any witness statements about the crash or say which direction the vehicles were facing when they came to a stop.
"We just don't know those things yet," Brown said. "It affects people's lives, so we want to be able to get the correction information out there."
The wreck and the subsequent investigation tied up traffic in Folly Beach for nearly three hours.
Among residents Monday, rumors were rampant about what caused the crash. Several of them said a driver suffered a medical condition and drifted into oncoming lanes.
Skipper Weatherford, owner of the Sand Dollar Social Club, said he came upon the accident just after it occurred. The front end of one vehicle had been jarred loose and thrown into the marsh mud.
A Chevrolet pickup appeared to be facing in the wrong direction.
"There were three cars in the road all mangled together," Weatherford said. "I haven't seen a wreck there before. It's the straightest part of Folly Road."
Folly Beach Mayor Tim Goodwin said "there are fender-benders all up and down Folly Road" during the rush for beach-bound traffic on weekends. But he said the city hasn't seen the magnitude of Sunday's crash in years.
On Monday, a slick of oil, bits of plastic and glass, and the orange markings that investigators used to outline the scene were the only remnants left on Folly Road.
On Monday at How Art Thou? on Maybank Highway, two flowers were placed in a vase at the foot of a locked door.
About 100 people also gathered later that night at the cafe for a vigil.
Friends from Seacoast and others prayed, sang, cried and hugged.
One of them, Heather Schirduan, said of Miller, "I guess the first thing, he loved God -- after that, he was a great husband and father."
Svendsen comforted the mourners: "Let's use this time to be with one another ... hanging out as a family."
Craig Miller said the business was an idea his cousin "kept in his back pocket for years."
Josh Miller moved to the Lowcountry after graduating in 2008 from George Mason University. His cousin said he held some government contracting jobs but eventually realized the corporate world wasn't for him.
With the cafe, he aimed to display his passions for painting, for Jesus, for playing the guitar, for his family.
"Eventually, people could come and learn how to paint and enjoy each other's company," Craig Miller said. "He was a man who dared to dream. This was his dream."
Wade Spees contributed to this report. Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.
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