Jan 3, 2023
A multi-car crash involving at least 15 vehicles occurred on Interstate 65 in Butler County, Alabama, Saturday. The fatal car accident took place near Greenville, approximately 40 miles south of the Alabama state capital of Montgomery. At the time of the crash, Alabama was enduring torrential rains and high winds due to Tropical Depression Claudette. CBS News reported that Butler County Coroner, Wayne Garlock, believed the vehicles likely hydroplaned on the wet road.
Eight of the fatalities were reportedly in a vehicle belonging to the Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch, part of the Alabama Sheriffs Youth Ranch. The victims, ranging in age from 4 to 17 years old, all suffered burns in the accident, according to Garlock. The vehicle was on fire, and bystanders were able to successfully pull the driver from the wreckage. Others attempted to save the children from the vehicle but did not arrive in time as the fire raged.
According to the group’s Facebook page, The Alabama Sheriffs Youth Ranch provides “long-term residential homes for abandoned, abused, and neglected children.”
“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,” Michael Smith, the organization’s CEO, said via a Facebook page post.
A father and his 9-month-old daughter in another vehicle were also killed, according to AL.com.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) confirmed that 10 investigators were expected to arrive on the scene Sunday evening. The ongoing investigation will reportedly examine “vehicle technologies such as forward collision warning systems, CMV fuel tank integrity, motor carrier operations and occupant survivability.” The NTSB will be working in coordination with the Alabama Highway Patrol.
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FOX News reported that the Butler County Coroner’s Office would release the names of two of the victims from the aforementioned vehicle shortly. The names of the remaining eight victims from the Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch vehicle, however, will not be released by their agency due to those minors being in the custody of the Alabama Department of Human Resources’ Child Protective Services at the time of the fatal collision.
Alabama Sheriffs Youth Ranches CEO, Michael Smith, offered condolences in a public statement:
“It is such a horrible tragedy and loss. This morning, I have been thinking about how we do not always understand the reason things happen. However, we will continue to hold on to our God for peace and comfort as our hearts continue to break. Please continue to pray for us as we navigate this difficult time.”
The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) is asking the public for information, including any available images of the multi-vehicle crash. Anyone with photos or videos of the incident is asked to please forward copies to firstname.lastname@example.org, or post then on Twitter by tagging @aleaprotects.
As we’ve noted in previous blogs, rainfall accounts for approximately 46% of weather-related motor vehicle crashes. From 2007 to 2016, 556,151 car crashes occurred due to rain, leading to 212,647 injuries. Throughout that 10-year period, 2,473 motor vehicle fatalities due to heavy rainfall were recorded.
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