12 dead in Alabama after Tropical Storm Claudette sweeps across state

At least 12 people died in Alabama as a result of Tropical Storm Claudette, including 9 children who were involved in a 15-vehicle crash.

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Butler County Coroner Wayne Garlock said 10 people, including nine children, were killed Saturday morning in the crash on Interstate 65 about 35 miles south of Montgomery, AL.com reported.

“Butler County has had one of the most terrible traffic accidents that I believe is the worst ever in our county,” Sheriff Danny Bond said on social media. “Many vehicles were involved, many injuries and even deaths.”

Good evening. It is with heavy heart that I make this post. Butler County has had one of the most terrible traffic...

Posted by Butler County Sheriff’s Office on Saturday, June 19, 2021

Officials said the vehicles likely hydroplaned on the wet roads.

Eight children aged 4 to 17 were in a van belonging to the Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch, a sheriff’s youth ranch for abused or neglected children. A bystander pulled the driver of the van, Candice Gulley, from the wreckage before it burst into flames. She is recovering at a hospital. Two of her children were also in the van, AL.com reported.

“I’ve never seen a tragedy or heard of a tragedy like this in my entire life. 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,” Michael Smith, CEO of Alabama Sheriff’s Youth Ranches, said. “We have grief counseling. We have pastors meeting with all of our ranches and we’re trying to help them. They’ve been traumatized once again their lives by losing their family. On this ranch, this is their family. They have lost a big portion of their family.”

Two people in another vehicle, 29-year-old Cody Fox and 9-month-old Ariana Fox, also died. Cody Fox was the fire chief at New Hope Volunteer Fire Department in Tennessee, AL.com reported.

Numerous other people were also injured in the accident.

The storm was the cause of at least two other deaths.

A 24-year-old man and a 3-year-old boy were killed when a tree fell on their house.

As much as 12 inches of rain were reported along parts of the Gulf Coast. Top winds from Claudette remained near 30 mph on Sunday as the storm moved through the Carolinas. The National Hurricane Center expects the storm to regain strength and become classified again as a tropical storm Monday as it heads over the Atlantic Ocean.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.