Ten people, including nine children, are dead following a multi-car crash in Alabama Saturday afternoon that authorities suspect was triggered by wet weather from the remnants of Tropical Storm Claudette.
The Butler County Sheriff’s Office posted on Facebook that the accident was believed to be the county’s worst ever.
The pileup happened on the northbound side of I-65 near milemarker 138 when multiple vehicles crashed into one another, causing a chain reaction, with several bursting into flames.
Eight of the dead were girls traveling in a vehicle owned by a residential home for youths; their small bus was second or third in the pileup of more than a dozen cars, according to Wayne Garlock at the Butler County Coroner’s Office.
The Alabama Sheriff’s Youth Ranches, whose mission is “to provide Christian, family-style residential homes for Alabama’s needy, neglected, or abused, school-age children,” confirmed that one of its vehicles was involved incident.
“Our hearts are heavy today,” Michael Smith, Chief Executive Officer of the Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch posted on Facebook. “Our ranch has suffered great loss.”
Two others people, a 29-year-old father and his 9-month-old baby, were killed in a separate vehicle.
Nearby Reeltown High School said its doors would be open for “counseling and prayer support” on Sunday afternoon.
NBC News affiliate WSFA reported that authorities suspect hydroplaning caused the accident on I-65.
Juliette Arcodia and Josh Cradduck contributed.