An overwhelming majority of people who died in storm-related highway accidents were underage.
Tropical Storm Claudette has been blamed for causing a pile-up of at least 15 vehicles along the Alabama stretch of Interstate 65 on June 19.
The hazardous mix of heavy rain and strong winds created deadly conditions for motorists. Nine children and one adult died in the wreck.
Butler County Coroner Wayne Garlock revealed multiple vehicles hydroplaned at about 2:30 p.m. between mile markers 137 and 138 in Butler County.
Eight of the children, aged between 4 and 17, died while traveling with the Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch. All of the deceased were in the custody of the Alabama Department of Human Resources’s Child Protective Services at the time, according to Fox News.
Alabama Sheriffs Youth Ranches, which operates the Tallapoosa property, described the accident as a “great loss” to the “ranch family.” The organization cares for school-age girls who suffer from abuse, neglect, and homelessness.
“Our hearts are so heavy … [and] it is such a horrible tragedy and loss,” Alabama Sheriffs Youth Ranches CEO Michael Smith said on Facebook. “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.”
Smith encouraged all of his social media followers to keep praying for loved ones of the deceased.
“Please continue to pray for us as we navigate this difficult time,” he said. “Thank you for your thoughts, prayers, and respecting the privacy of our large and extended families.”
Other casualties include a 29-year-old man and his 9-month-old daughter, who both died at the scene. In addition, several more motorists suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
“Butler County has had one of the most terrible traffic accidents,” Butler County Sheriff Danny Bond said on Facebook. “I believe is the worst ever in our county.”
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. https://t.co/LcCw4uCFcH pic.twitter.com/4vrnVUQqSq— CBS News (@CBSNews) June 21, 2021
Rep. Barry Moore (R-Ala.) described the accident as “heartbreaking.”
“[My wife] Heather and I are praying for the families who lost loved ones, and a full recovery for those injured in the crash,” he said on Twitter.
I-65 northbound is now open. It is reduced to one lane between the 137 and 138 mile markers northbound as workers continue to clear the accident scene. PLEASE USE EXTREME CAUTION!— Chief Justin Lovvorn (@justin_lovvorn) June 20, 2021
Tropical Storm Claudette has already affected parts of Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and the Florida Panhandle. The National Hurricane Center reported heavy rain, flooding and strong winds.