Ten people were killed in a car crash in Alabama over the weekend in an almost unthinkable 15-vehicle pileup. Even more tragically, nine of the deceased were children…
Investigators believe hydroplaning caused by the Tropical Storm Claudette led to the horrific accident, which occurred in at around 2:30 p.m. on Saturday on I-65 near Montgomery.
Eight of the victims were in a single van from the Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch, a non-profit youth home for abused or neglected children. Their ages ranged from 4 to 17. The only survivor of this group was the driver of the van, Ranch director Candice Gulley. She was miraculously pulled from the flaming car by a bystander; the hero tried to go back for the children, but it was too late.
Candice is currently in serious condition at the hospital but is expected to heal from her physical injuries. The emotional trauma from this wreck may be harder to overcome as two of the victims were her own children, a 4-year-old and a 16-year-old. The other dead included four other ranch residents and two guests.
Ranch CEO Michael Smith (above), who was driving another van of kids back home from a vacation at the beach in Gulf Shores, was not immediately aware of the crash, but later told Associated Press:
“This is the worst tragedy I’ve been a part of in my life.”
At the scene of the accident, Smith added:
“Words cannot explain what I saw… We love these girls like they’re our own children.”
A GoFundMe has been set up by the ranch to help cover “funeral related expenses, medical costs for the injured and counseling for the others of this devastating event.” You can help out HERE.
A 29-year-old firefighter, Cody Fox, and his 9-month-old daughter Ariana Fox also died in the crash. Hayle Anderson, his fiancée, was injured but is expected to survive. According to AP, more unidentified people were also hurt in the pileup.
Sadly we must report three more deaths due to the tropical storm occurred over the weekend, which led to 13 lives lost altogether. A 24-year-old man and his 3-year-old son died when a tree fell on their house near Tuscaloosa on Saturday. A 23-year-old woman in Fort Payne was killed when her car slid off the road and into a creek on the same day.
Such devastating losses, and on Father’s Day weekend no less. Our hearts go out to all the families and loved ones mourning the victims of these accidents. We wish Candice and Hayle a speedy recovery and support as they grapple with their new realities.
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