Nine children and one adult were killed in a multi-vehicle accident in Alabama on Saturday (June 19) as the remnants of Tropical Storm Claudette dumped heavy rain across the area.
Butler County Sheriff Danny Bond said that 18 vehicles, including two tractor-trailers, were involved in the crash on Interstate 65 in Butler County. Four of five others sustained non-fatal injuries.
"This was probably the most horrific accident in Butler County history," Bond said.
Butler County Coroner Wayne Garlock said that the heavy rain was a factor in the crash and that the vehicles were likely hydroplaning before the accident. Authorities did not release many details about the cause of the crash and have asked the public for photos and videos to help investigators piece together what happened.
Eight of the children who were killed were in a bus owned by the Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch. The organization provides a safe home for children who have been neglected or abused. A bystander managed to pull the bus driver from the flaming wreckage but could not reach the girls inside, who were between the ages of 4 and 17.
Cody Fox, 29, and his nine-month-old daughter Ariana Fox were killed in an SUV.
"I've never seen a tragedy or heard of a tragedy like this in my entire life," Michael Smith, CEO of the Alabama Sheriff's Youth Ranches, said. "I'm still certainly trying to process what's going on here, I just know that God is leading me in the direction to continue to try to help the girls who survived and be here with them."
"All of the children that are deceased that were on that van loved God, and they are in a better place," he continued. "Our Christian values will get us through this situation."