US Storm Claudette Likely Behind Death of 10, Including 9 Children, in Alabama Vehicle Crash
Storm expected to be another blow to Gulf Coast businesses
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A weekend that was supposed to be filled with celebrations of Juneteenth and Father’s Day has turned dreary in coastal Louisiana and Mississippi, where an unpredictable tropical weather system has brought wind, heavy rain and fears of flooding to a region where some have sandbags still left over from last year’s record-breaking hurricane season. With virus restrictions loosened and summer near, business owners across the Gulf Coast — everyone from restaurateurs to swamp boat operators — had been anticipating an influx of tourist cash after a year of lost revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic and relentless storms.
Tropical Depression Claudette was cited as the likely cause behind a multi-vehicle crash in Alabama on Saturday that killed 10 people, including nine children, officials reported.
Butler County Coroner Wayne Garlock said the vehicles likely hydroplaned on the wet roads on Interstate 65. One of the vehicles involved in the crash was from Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch.
9 children, adult die in Alabama crash amid storm
Ten people, nine of whom were children, died in a 15-vehicle crash in Alabama on Saturday, increasing the state's death toll from Tropical Storm Claudette to 12.The crash, likely caused by hydroplaning, occurred on Interstate 65 about 35 miles south of Montgomery, The Associated Press reports.It involved a van from a youth ranch carrying eight girls aged 4 to 17 to crash, Butler County Coroner Wayne Garlock said. The youth ranch is operated by the Alabama Sheriffs Association and is meant for abused or neglected children."This is the worst tragedy I've been a part of in my life," Michael Smith, CEO of the youth ranch, told the AP.
The victims included nine girls. One victim was identified as Cody, 29, from Marion County, Tennessee. He and his nine-month-old daughter, Ariana Fox, were killed in the crash, Garlock told AL.com.
The names of the other eight victims were not released as many were in the care of the state, Garlock said. The girls ranged in age from four to 17-years-old and were on the Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch bus.
The ranch serves as a foster home for girls from abusive or abandonment situations, and is supported by sheriffs of several counties.
"Our hearts are heavy today. Our ranch has suffered great loss. As some of you may have heard, one of our ranch vehicles was involved in a multiple car accident this afternoon. Please send prayers our way as we navigate this difficult time," Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch said in a statement posted on.
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The driver of the bus was pulled from the vehicle by a bystander, but the bystander was unable to go back for the children, Garlock told AL.com.
"It was too late to get back to them because the bus was engulfed in fire," Garlock said.
The crash involved 18 vehicles, and about four or five other people suffered nonfatal injuries, Butler County Sheriff Danny Bond said.
"This was probably the most horrific accident in Butler County history," Bond told AL.com.
The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) was notified of the crash at approximately 2:30 p.m. on Saturday on I-65 northbound at the 138-mile marker.
ALEA is asking for assistance in gathering information regarding the crash on Saturday, through email or social media.
ALEA is asking for the public’s assistance in gathering information and photos regarding the crash which occurred on I-65 in Butler County on Saturday, June 19. Please send photos/videos related to the crash to email@example.com or share via social media @aleaprotects.
Deadly tropical depression Claudette expected to strengthen
The storm triggered destructive tornadoes and flooding and is linked to a car crash that left 10 people dead.Claudette was near Athens, Georgia, on Sunday afternoon and was expected to reach the North Carolina coast on Monday, the National Hurricane Center said.— Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (@ALEAprotects) June 20, 2021
Both the northbound and southbound lanes were closed after the crash. I-65 southbound was reopened on Saturday night, Greenville Police Chief Justin Lovvorn said on.
"Northbound will remain closed for now. Please continue to reroute northbound traffic to Hwy. 31 or Hwy. 185 north," Lovvorn said.
Around 2 a.m. on Sunday, Lovvorn announced I-65 northbound was open as well, but reduced to one lane between the 137- and 138-mile markers. He urged drivers to use extreme caution.
The Associated Press reported that as much as 12 inches of rain fell along the Mississippi Gulf Coast due to Claudette.
Girls living at an Alabama ranch for abused children are mourning the loss of eight 'sisters' killed in a fiery crash .
When eight girls from the Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch were killed in a crash in Alabama Saturday, they were taken from the sense of family and community many of them had long been searching for. © CNN Ten people died in a multi-vehicle crash in Butler County, Alabama on Saturday. The ranch provides a home for neglected or abused school-aged children, according to the Alabama Sheriffs Youth Ranches, the nonprofit that manages the Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch and others across the state.