Eight children in youth van among 13 lives lost amid stormy weather in US

Pickup trucks pass each other on a flooded road in Biloxi, Mississippi (AP)
1:16am, Mon 21 Jun 2021
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Eight children in a van from a youth home for abused or neglected children were killed in a fiery multi-vehicle crash on a wet freeway amid stormy weather in Alabama.

The crash also killed a man and his baby in another vehicle in what was the most devastating blow from a tropical depression that claimed 13 lives in Alabama while causing flash floods and spurring tornadoes that destroyed dozens of homes.

The crash happened on Saturday some 35 miles south of Montgomery on Interstate 65 after vehicles likely hydroplaned on wet roads, said Butler County Coroner Wayne Garlock.

NO.weather.062021.006 (AP)

The van, containing children ages four to 17, belonged to the Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch, a youth home operated by the Alabama Sheriffs Association.

Michael Smith, the youth ranches CEO, said the van was heading back to the ranch near Camp Hill, north-east of Montgomery, after a week at the beach in Gulf Shores. The van caught fire after the wreck. Candice Gulley, the ranch’s director, was the van’s only survivor — pulled from the flames by a bystander.

The crash also claimed the lives of two other people who were in a separate vehicle. Mr Garlock identified them as 29-year-old Cody Fox and his nine-month-old daughter, Ariana, both of Marion County, Tennessee.

Tropical Weather Alabama (AP)

Multiple people were also injured. Photos showed at least four burned vehicles, including two large trucks.

Meanwhile, a 24-year-old man and a three-year-old boy were also killed on Saturday when a tree fell on their house just outside the Tuscaloosa city limits, said Captain Jack Kennedy of the Tuscaloosa Violent Crimes Unit. A 23-year-old woman also died in the area on Saturday after her car ran off the road into a swollen creek, DeKalb County Deputy Coroner Chris Thacker said.

The deaths occurred as drenching rains from Tropical Depression Claudette pelted northern Alabama and Georgia late on Saturday. As much as 12 inches of rain was reported earlier from Claudette along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

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