A TROPICAL storm Claudette crash led to the deaths of nine children and one adult in Butler County, Alabama, over the weekend.
The 15-vehicle crash took place on Saturday in a storm-plagued Alabama on Interstate 65 — approximately 35 miles south of Montgomery.
Butler County Coroner Wayne Garlock told local media the accident took place around 2:30pm and likely occured wet roads likely led the vehicles to hydroplane.
One of the two vehicles in the crash was a Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch vehicle — which had a total of 8 victims, AL.com reports.
The Girls Ranch bus, operated by the Alabama Sheriffs Association for abused or neglected children, had eight children ranging from four to 17 years old — all among the dead, Garlock said.
The director of the Tallapoosa County ranch was hospitalized after the crash and her condition is unknown, but one of the children killed was her child, Youth ranches CEO Michael Smith told the Associated Press.
A dad and a 9-month-old girl were killed in another vehicle, a small car, Garlock added. They were later identified as 29-year-old Cody Fox and Ariana Fox.
Cody was pronounced dead on the scene and Ariana passed away at a hospital in Greenville.
According to Butler County Sheriff Danny Bond, multiple people were also injured, however, the number is unclear.
The accident involved 15 vehicles, two of which were 18-wheelers, Bond explained, noting: “This was probably the most horrific accident in Butler County history.”
Smith told AP the group of children on the van were returning after a week at the beach.
Smith told the news outlet: “This is the worst tragedy I’ve been a part of in my life. Words cannot explain what I saw.”
The Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch took to Facebook after the tragic incident to seek prayers in a difficult time.
“Our hearts are heavy today. Our ranch has suffered great loss. As some of you may have heard, one of our ranch vehicles was involved a multiple car accident this afternoon,” the Facebook post read.
“Please send prayers our way as we navigate this difficult time. We will update information as we are able, and if you have any questions feel free to contact us.”
According to local CBS affiliate WRBL, the crash is under investigation by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.
The sad news comes as a tropical storm struck the Gulf Coast on Saturday, spurring violent tornadoes in Alabama and causing severe flooding in Louisiana.
Tropical Storm Claudette demolished dozens of homes across Alabama and killed two others.
As of Sunday morning, Tropical Depression Claudette took a total of 12 lives in Alabama.
In addition to the 10 people who died in the two-vehicle crash on Saturday, a tree fell on a house near the Tuscaloosa city limits — killing a 24-year-old man and a 3-year-old boy, Tuscaloosa Violent Crimes Unit’s Capt. Marty Sellers told Tuscaloosa News.
The victims were also not immediately identified, but their deaths took place as ran downpoured on northern Alabama and Georgia in the latter part of Saturday.
Meanwhile, nearly two dozen people were rescued by boat in Northport, Alabama, due to flooding, WVUA-TV reported.
Following the rescue, the Tuscaloosa County Emergency Management Agency took to social media to announce that Red Cross volunteers were on hand to help anyone affected.
Approximately 12 inches of rain was reported along the Mississippi Gulf Coast and high winds continued around 30 mph.
Northern Georgia, a large portion of South Carolina, the North Carolina coast, parts of southeast Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle all have flash flood watches for Sunday, the Associated Press reported.
Meanwhile, a tornado struck two mobile home communities in the Escambia County town of Brewton, Alabama, which is roughly 60 miles north of Florida.
Sheriff Heath Jackson estimated that at least 50 homes had been “pretty much” demolished by the storm, which also toppled trees onto houses and ripped the roof off a nearby school gym.
“It kind of affected everybody,” Jackson said. “But with those mobile homes being built so close together it can take a toll on them a lot more than it can on houses that are spread apart.”
Damage from the storm was also felt in north Florida, where winds — in some cases reaching 85 mph — caused an 18-wheeler to flip on its side.
The National Hurricane Center declared Claudette organized enough to qualify as a named storm at 4am on Saturday, well after the storm’s center of circulation had come ashore southwest of New Orleans.
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By Saturday night, Claudette was a tropical depression located 45 miles west-northwest of Montgomery, Alabama, with sustained winds of 30 mph.
However, it’s expected to become a tropical storm again when it moves across the Carolinas on Sunday night or into early Monday, according to National Hurricane Center forecasters.