Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board are trying to determine the cause of a deadly 17-vehicle pileup that shut down an Alabama highway. The fiery crash killed 10 people. Nine of them were children.
Eight of the children killed were traveling together in a van after a week-long vacation in Gulf Shores. Some of the kids lived at the Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch — a youth home for neglected or abused children. Their ages ranged from three to 17.
“It’s a tragedy for Alabama and it’s a national tragedy when you lose this many children,” said Michael Smith, CEO of the Alabama Sheriffs Youth Ranches.
“There’s no words that can describe the loss that we all feel right now. We love these children, they’re like our children. The grief is more than I can put into words,” Smith said.
Candice Gulley, the ranch’s director, was driving the van and was the only survivor. Witnesses pulled her from the crash fire to safety. She remains hospitalized in serious but stable condition, Smith said.
Investigators believe slick roads from Tropical Storm Claudette may have caused some of the vehicles to hydroplane, which led to the deadly pileup.
Cody Fox, a volunteer firefighter, and his 9-month-old daughter were also among the dead.