A Tennessee father, his infant daughter and eight other children were killed in a multi-vehicle crash on an Alabama highway

A Tennessee father and his infant daughter were among 10 people -- nine of whom were children -- killed in a...

Posted: Jun 21, 2021 8:58 AM
Updated: Jun 21, 2021 11:45 AM

A Tennessee father and his infant daughter were among 10 people -- nine of whom were children -- killed in a fiery multi-vehicle crash on an Alabama highway this weekend.

Cody Fox, 29, of New Hope, Tennessee, and his 9-month-old daughter were identified in a press release issued by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency on Sunday night.

The other victims in the crash were children aged between 3 and 17, who were traveling in a vehicle belonging to a ranch for neglected or abused school-age children, authorities said.

The crash happened on Interstate 65 about 120 miles southwest of Camp Hill, Alabama, where the ranch is located.

'Yesterday, was an extremely heartbreaking day for the state of Alabama as 10 lives were tragically lost in one horrific event,' ALEA's Secretary of Law Enforcement Hal Taylor said in the release.

'It was a difficult and unimaginable scene for many, and our thoughts and prayers are with all involved as we continue to investigate and provide closure for those affected.'

The National Transportation Safety Board sent 10 investigators to the scene in Butler County to work in coordination with the Alabama Highway Patrol, the agency said. The 'investigation will focus on vehicle technologies such as forward collision warning systems, CMV fuel tank integrity, motor carrier operations and occupant survivability,' according to the NTSB.

Multiple vehicles involved in crash

Heavy rain fell across the Southeast on Saturday after a tropical depression that had been known as Tropical Storm Claudette came ashore in southeastern Louisiana early that morning.

The bus crash happened as storms swept through Alabama, according to Butler County Coroner Wayne Garlock.

At least 17 vehicles, including two commercial vehicles, were involved in the incident on I-65 northbound at mile marker 138, according to the ALEA release.

ALEA's Taylor said that investigations such as this are the most difficult part of the agency's job.

'I would like to offer my sincerest condolences to the friends and families of loved ones lost in Saturday's terrible crash, as well as my gratitude to all of the first responders and volunteers who quickly and valiantly responded to the scene,' Taylor said.

Father who died is remembered

Fox was a member of the emergency management agency in Marion County, Tennessee.

'Cody was an integral part of the EMA staff in Marion County, always ready, always willing to serve,' a posting on the agency's Facebook page said. '

'His upbeat attitude, his willingness to learn, and without a doubt the politest young man I have ever known, will be greatly missed. I offer my deepest prayers for his parents and family.

'He was a dedicated responder, a good son, a good brother, a good father and a good friend.'

Fox was also the chief of the New Hope Volunteer Fire Department in Tennessee, CNN affiliate WAKA reported.

Victims from home for neglected and abused children

Of the nine children killed in the crash, eight were in a vehicle from the Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch, according to Garlock.

The ranch provides a home for neglected or abused school-age children, according to the Alabama Sheriffs Youth Ranches, the nonprofit that manages the ranch and others across the state.

The ranch's director was the driver of the van and survived, according to the Youth Ranches CEO Michael Smith, but she lost two children of her own in the crash, he told CNN. The director is in hospital 'in serious but stable condition,' Smith said.

She was likely saved by bystanders who pulled her from the vehicle while she was unconscious and trapped inside, Smith said.

'Her life was saved, and we're so blessed with that,' he said. 'Unfortunately we lost the other eight passengers.'

'We lost eight young people that can make a difference in our world, we lost eight young people that didn't have a chance to have their own children, we lost eight young people that can't break the cycle of where they've been and change it for their children,' Smith said. 'That's a sad day.'

The victims were aged 3, 8, 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17, according to ALEA, with two of the victims aged 16. The names of the children have not been released.

Although the names were not made public, many people turned up to a vigil to pay their respects to the lost children Sunday night.

Faculty, faith leaders and the local community gathered at Reeltown High School to offer support, Principal Clifton Maddox told CNN.

The mood in the gym-turned-counseling-center was heavy with several people crying and many looking shocked from the news of the incident.

Maddox told CNN the school was opened to 'show families and students that they are not hurting alone.'

Four high school students who attended his school were killed in the incident, he said, although he declined to identify them citing student privacy.

Witness describes fiery crash scene

Lacey Willis, a CNN producer, was caught in the pile-up as she returned to Atlanta from a family beach trip in Destin, Florida, with her husband and their 6-month-old daughter.

She said the weather had been bad about an hour prior to the crash. At the moment of the wreck 'it wasn't downpouring' but there was still a lot of water on the road, Willis told CNN,

Willis was in the backseat of the car with her daughter when she felt an impact, she said. Their car had hit a guard rail, setting off the airbags and sending them into the grass on the median.

She grabbed her daughter and began walking away from the accident when she noticed vehicles had started to catch fire.

'I'm barefoot, standing on I-65, walking, walking far enough away,' she said. 'I was just praying.'

Her husband began helping other victims involved in the multi-vehicle crash, pulling a family -- a man, a woman and their two kids -- from a truck that had flipped on its side, she said.

People began calling out for someone to call 911, with one shirtless man yelling for nurses and doctors to help. No one knew what mile marker they were near, Willis explained.

Willis and her family were stuck at the scene for five hours. Some people were stuck on the side of the road because their cars were on fire, she said.

Willis said she was 'very grateful' that her family was able to 'escape' but acknowledged 'there's a little guilt aspect.'

'Those families' lives are changed forever, and I hope that somehow people will find a way to be OK,' she said. 'Because this was tragic for a lot of people. We are very, very fortunate.'

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 350070

Reported Deaths: 7590
CountyCasesDeaths
Hinds24512449
DeSoto23513283
Harrison21172335
Rankin15798293
Jackson15735254
Madison11171227
Lee10903180
Jones9223169
Forrest9027163
Lauderdale8087244
Lamar724890
Lowndes7199152
Lafayette6631125
Washington5661140
Pearl River5357154
Oktibbeha503198
Bolivar5004134
Warren4817128
Panola4812112
Marshall4739106
Pontotoc452473
Hancock440388
Neshoba4401181
Union438979
Monroe4369138
Lincoln4228116
Pike3739114
Leflore3676125
Alcorn355374
Tate354988
Sunflower351094
Adams347490
Scott346677
Yazoo342977
Copiah330869
Simpson327191
Itawamba317281
Coahoma315685
Tippah312869
Prentiss302563
Covington302384
Marion289882
Leake288676
Wayne280945
George277351
Grenada272188
Newton266864
Tishomingo240770
Winston238084
Stone235338
Jasper234748
Attala228674
Chickasaw221460
Holmes202574
Clay201954
Clarke189580
Tallahatchie185642
Calhoun183232
Smith183036
Yalobusha173641
Walthall150449
Lawrence145426
Greene141935
Amite139144
Noxubee137235
Perry136138
Montgomery133944
Carroll127031
Webster124332
Jefferson Davis119834
Tunica116127
Benton107825
Claiborne105931
Kemper104429
Humphreys102333
Franklin88424
Quitman86319
Choctaw83119
Wilkinson79332
Jefferson72228
Sharkey51918
Issaquena1746
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 592417

Reported Deaths: 11542
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson861091591
Mobile49771865
Madison37714533
Shelby27501259
Tuscaloosa27344465
Montgomery26343628
Baldwin25860329
Lee17336181
Calhoun15498334
Morgan15225291
Etowah15060370
Marshall13198236
Houston12191293
Elmore10977219
St. Clair10852252
Limestone10816158
Cullman10610206
Lauderdale10305254
DeKalb9594192
Talladega9005188
Walker7840288
Autauga7615114
Jackson7431117
Blount7417139
Colbert6752142
Coffee6443132
Dale5723117
Russell482243
Chilton4810117
Covington4804125
Franklin462781
Tallapoosa4571156
Escambia451083
Chambers3987125
Dallas3751163
Clarke372263
Marion3470107
Pike334079
Lawrence3277100
Winston300773
Bibb292865
Geneva288383
Marengo262967
Barbour253761
Pickens247762
Butler242472
Hale236778
Fayette228165
Henry216545
Monroe204541
Randolph202844
Cherokee200748
Washington186839
Macon171552
Crenshaw170658
Clay167159
Cleburne161845
Lamar151938
Lowndes146255
Wilcox132331
Bullock126542
Conecuh122132
Coosa119529
Perry111228
Sumter110633
Greene99337
Choctaw64425
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Wednesday starts off in the nice middle 60s, even some towns down into the lower 60s. We will stay with plenty of sunshine as we go through the day. Most of our high temperatures on Wednesday will be well into the 80s to near 90 degrees in the afternoon.
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