Ten people, including nine children, were killed Saturday in an accident that involved approximately 15 cars on an Alabama interstate, according to Butler County Coroner Wayne Garlock. The accident appeared to related to the weather, with Tropical Storm Claudette battering the state as it headed toward North Carolina.
Eight of the fatalities were from one vehicle, a vehicle from Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch, part of the Alabama Sheriffs Youth Ranch. They all suffered burns and ranged in age from 4 to 17 years old. According to Garlock, the driver was pulled out by bystanders and people tried to pull the children from the vehicle, which was on fire, but it was too late.
The Alabama Sheriffs Youth Ranch provides “longterm residential homes for abandoned, abused and neglected children,” according to its Facebook page. The organization said it had suffered a “great loss.”
“As many of you may have heard, one of our Ranch vehicles was involved in a multiple car accident yesterday afternoon. It is such a horrible tragedy and loss,” said Michael Smith, the organization’s CEO, in a statement on its Facebook page.
The other two dead were identified as a 29-year-old man and his 9-month-old daughter.
Garlock said it appeared a vehicle hydroplaned on top of the small bridge, causing the pileup. Multiple people were also injured.
Butler County Sheriff Danny Boyd posted on Facebook that the accident was “one of the most terrible traffic accidents that I believe is the worst ever in our county.”
Claudette, which was downgraded to a tropical depression on Sunday, is still expected to cause damage as it moves east-northeast and possibly strengthens. The National Weather Service said Sunday that flash flooding, damaging winds, large to significant hail and a couple of tornadoes can be expected from the Midwest to the Great Lakes.
Another three deaths have been attributed to the storm from Alabama to Georgia, according to The Associated Press.