US Small Alabama community mourns loss of 9 children in car crash
Panic attacks highlight stress at shelters for migrant kids
Associated Press (AP) — Paramedics were called regularly to treat children suffering from panic attacks so severe their hands would constrict into balls and their bodies would shake. The outbursts often occurred after other children were taken away to be reunited with families, dashing the hopes of those left behind at the largest emergency shelter set up by the Biden administration to hold minors who had crossed the U.S.-Mexico border alone. © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this March 30, 2021, file photo, minors are shown inside a pod at the Donna Department of Homeland Security holding facility, the main detention center for unaccompanied children
An Alabama community was plunged into deep grief after— nine of them children, including a 9-month-old.
Eight of the children, ages 3 to 17, were traveling in a vehicle owned by a residential home for youths when they were killed in Butler County, Alabama, about an hour southwest of Montgomery.
The small bus operated by the Alabama Sheriffs Youth Ranches,"to provide Christian, family-style residential homes for Alabama's needy, neglected, or abused, school-age children,” was in a pileup of more than a dozen cars on Interstate 65. Officials suspect the crash was triggered by wet weather from the remnants of .
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.
Four of the children who perished from the crash were girls who lived at the ranch, and the other four children who died were related to someone who worked at the ranch, according to AL.com.
The two other victims, Cody Fox, a 29-year-old father, and his 9-month-old, Ariana, were killed in a separate vehicle.
“I’ll tell you what I do know, those children are in a much better place, they’re with God, cause they all love God,” Michael Smith, the CEO of the Alabama Sheriff’s Youth Ranch, told the NBC affiliate WSFA.
Smith, who spent time with the girls who attended his organization's Tallapoosa County ranch, said he “felt like the blessed one” being able to know them.
Storm Claudette Likely Behind Death of 10, Including 9 Children, in Alabama Vehicle Crash
Tropical Storm Claudette was cited as the likely cause in a vehicle accident in Alabama that killed 10 people, including nine children.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.
The National Transportation Safety Board and the Alabama Highway Patrol sent 10 investigators to the scene Sunday to look into “vehicle technologies such as forward collision warning systems, CMV fuel tank integrity, motor carrier operations and occupant survivability,” according to the NTSB’s Twitter account.
Over the weekend, mourners gathered to grieve and pray together at Tallapoosa County's Reeltown High School, where girls who died Saturday went to school. Their names have not been released.
One of the girls who stays at the ranch and remained unnamed because she is in state custody,, remembering her lost “sisters.”
“When people hear about the ranch, they usually assume that the girls have done something wrong or bad to get there. But that’s not the case,’' she said, according to. “These girls have been through so much, and they were such strong, wonderful, kind family members and it was my privilege and my honor to be their big sister.”
'It's a national tragedy': Young victims of Alabama highway crash were traveling home from beach trip when tragedy struck
A Tennessee man, his infant daughter among dead in wreck that also killed 8 young children and teens from Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch in Alabama.One week after their trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama, began and less than two hours from home — a Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch van caught fire, killing eight children inside.
“I’ve lost a lot of family throughout my entire life, and I’ve been prepared for a lot of situations, but nothing could have prepared me for this,’' the teen whose speech offered a glimpse into the lives of the girls said.
The girls at the ranch often come from backgrounds of neglect or abuse and find a safe haven through the program, the teen said. There, they learn about faith and find community in one another.
Located in Camp Hill, Alabama, the Tallapoosa County Sheriffs Youth Ranch houses high schoolers in crisis. The ranch there has three homes for girls, three staff houses, an office, a chapel, gym and pool, according to the website. Opened by the Alabama Sheriffs' Association in 1973, it was meant to provide children with stability as they navigate high school.
"The Ranches are homes for these children, not reform schools or correctional institutions," according to its website.
The group also takes the girls on trips and vacations, one of which they were returning from when the crash occurred.
Reeltown High Principal Cliff Maddox struggled to find words at the ceremony,reported.
“Everybody’s still in shock. I’m in a fog. I can’t hardly talk," he said.
Tallapoosa County Schools Superintendent Raymond C. Porter said in a statement that his district will try to provide support to the grieving students and their parents.
“At Reeltown School, we have counselors available for any student who may need or want help or any type of assistance surrounding this loss. We encourage you, as parents, to also feel free to use our resources,” he wrote in a letter to parents Sunday.
This story first appeared on
Opinion: The latest political cartoons .
Opinion: The latest political cartoons