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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 8:59 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: 343505

Reported Deaths: 7543
CountyCasesDeaths
Hinds23932444
DeSoto23229283
Harrison20527329
Rankin15411291
Jackson15232252
Madison10959227
Lee10719179
Jones9047169
Forrest8723159
Lauderdale7884244
Lowndes7054151
Lamar702989
Lafayette6548124
Washington5595139
Pearl River5196152
Bolivar4954134
Oktibbeha494398
Panola4771112
Warren4728128
Marshall4701106
Pontotoc447773
Union433279
Monroe4330137
Neshoba4281181
Hancock428088
Lincoln4176116
Pike3667113
Leflore3627125
Tate353388
Alcorn350974
Sunflower347694
Scott341176
Adams340988
Yazoo339376
Copiah324968
Simpson322891
Itawamba314680
Coahoma314085
Tippah306568
Prentiss298863
Covington293484
Leake285475
Marion284181
Wayne277543
George272251
Grenada269488
Newton262364
Tishomingo239770
Winston236784
Jasper230648
Stone229637
Attala226373
Chickasaw219060
Holmes200174
Clay197654
Clarke186880
Tallahatchie183742
Calhoun181332
Smith179235
Yalobusha171540
Walthall145748
Lawrence142826
Greene140134
Amite137543
Noxubee135235
Perry133538
Montgomery133044
Carroll126431
Webster121232
Jefferson Davis116734
Tunica114227
Benton106725
Claiborne105331
Kemper102429
Humphreys100133
Franklin87923
Quitman84719
Choctaw82619
Wilkinson78032
Jefferson71328
Sharkey51618
Issaquena1736
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 577463

Reported Deaths: 11510
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson841981589
Mobile47171860
Madison37047533
Tuscaloosa26915465
Shelby26873256
Montgomery25918625
Baldwin24499328
Lee16949181
Calhoun15252332
Morgan15017290
Etowah14778370
Marshall12933235
Houston11774292
Elmore10761217
St. Clair10617252
Limestone10574158
Cullman10363205
Lauderdale10083254
DeKalb9382191
Talladega8836188
Walker7681287
Autauga7479114
Jackson7317117
Blount7266139
Colbert6635142
Coffee6163132
Dale5453117
Russell470642
Chilton4682117
Covington4649125
Franklin450081
Tallapoosa4440156
Escambia427882
Chambers3898125
Dallas3717163
Clarke367763
Marion3427106
Pike327879
Lawrence3225101
Winston294973
Bibb284565
Geneva276383
Marengo259967
Barbour246261
Pickens240062
Butler238272
Hale232778
Fayette225264
Henry209245
Monroe197241
Randolph196744
Cherokee196348
Washington180139
Macon168752
Crenshaw165558
Clay163759
Cleburne160245
Lamar149938
Lowndes144854
Wilcox130531
Bullock126142
Conecuh119630
Coosa116929
Perry109928
Sumter109032
Greene98736
Choctaw64325
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Columbus
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Very hot and very humid conditions linger in our area for our Saturday. However, the heat and humidity start to dwindle a bit as we go into our Sunday and beyond. As a matter of fact below normal high temperatures for this time of year.
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