Firefighter, his baby daughter and eight foster children die in fiery Alabama pile-up

A 29 year-old firefighter and his nine month-old daughter have been named as the first victims of Saturday’s horror pile-up in Alabama that also saw eight foster children die in a fireball.

Cody Fox and his daughter Ariana Fox were in one of the 15 cars that collided on Saturday, with father and daughter killed by the impact. Cody was pronounced dead at the scene, with Ariana dying later at hospital. 

His fiancée Hayle Anderson was in the car too, and was injured, but is expected to recover. 

Fox was the fire chief at New Hope Volunteer Fire Department in Tennessee. A tribute posted to him on social media read: ‘Cody was an integral part of the EMA staff in Marion County, always ready, always willing to serve.

‘His upbeat attitude, his willingness to learn, and without a doubt the politest young man I have ever known, will be greatly missed.’

Eight children, aged 4 to 17, were killed in a van belonging to the Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch, which is operated by the Alabama Sheriffs Association and takes abused or neglected children who are in the care of the state on outings.  

They were on the way home from a week’s vacation in Gulf Springs when the collision happened, Al.com reported.  

The victims have not been identified because they were in the care of the state, and cops have also yet to confirm if all those who died on the bus were female. 

Cody Fox and his nine month-old daughter Ariana were two of ten people killed in a 15-car pile-up in Montgomery, Alabama, on Saturday

Cody Fox and his nine month-old daughter Ariana were two of ten people killed in a 15-car pile-up in Montgomery, Alabama, on Saturday

Cody Fox and his nine month-old daughter Ariana were two of ten people killed in a 15-car pile-up in Montgomery, Alabama, on Saturday 

Butler County Coroner Wayne Garlock said the driver of the Girls Ranch bus was pulled from the wreck by a bystander, and tried to go back to rescue the children, but that the vehicle had already been consumed by flames. 

Four of those killed in the bus were teenagers who attended Reelstown High School. One other teenage girl who lived with them at the foster ranch, who can’t be named, paid a moving tribute to her late friends.

She said: ‘ When people hear about the ranch, they usually assume that the girls have done something wrong or bad to get there. But that’s not the case.

‘These girls have been through so much, and they were such strong, wonderful, kind family members and it was my privilege and my honor to be their big sister.’ 

Authorities said the crash took place around 2.30pm Saturday afternoon about 35 miles (55 kilometers) south of Montgomery on Interstate 65 when the vehicles likely hydroplaned on wet roads caused by the storm.   

The 10 victims are among 12 people killed in Alabama as a result of the devastating storm that has swept across the southeastern US this week, causing flash flooding and spurring tornadoes that destroyed dozens of homes. 

Officials confirmed a 24-year-old man and a 3-year-old boy died when a tree fell on their house just outside the Tuscaloosa city limits Saturday. 

Fox was chief of New Hope Volunteer Fire Department in Tennessee, and is survived by his fiancée Hayle

Fox was chief of New Hope Volunteer Fire Department in Tennessee, and is survived by his fiancée Hayle

Fox was chief of New Hope Volunteer Fire Department in Tennessee, and is survived by his fiancée Hayle 

The smash saw 15 vehicles collide, with eight foster children also killed after the bus they were on was consumed by a fireball

The smash saw 15 vehicles collide, with eight foster children also killed after the bus they were on was consumed by a fireball

The smash saw 15 vehicles collide, with eight foster children also killed after the bus they were on was consumed by a fireball

Authorities said the crash took place around 2.30pm Saturday afternoon about 35 miles (55 kilometers) south of Montgomery on Interstate 65

Authorities said the crash took place around 2.30pm Saturday afternoon about 35 miles (55 kilometers) south of Montgomery on Interstate 65

Authorities said the crash took place around 2.30pm Saturday afternoon about 35 miles (55 kilometers) south of Montgomery on Interstate 65

Eight children, aged 4 to 17, were killed in a van belonging to a Christian youth ranch operated by the Alabama Sheriffs Association. A man and a 9-month-old baby were killed in a separate vehicle

Eight children, aged 4 to 17, were killed in a van belonging to a Christian youth ranch operated by the Alabama Sheriffs Association. A man and a 9-month-old baby were killed in a separate vehicle

Eight children, aged 4 to 17, were killed in a van belonging to a Christian youth ranch operated by the Alabama Sheriffs Association. A man and a 9-month-old baby were killed in a separate vehicle

Ten people have been killed in a 15-car pile up in Alabama during Tropical Storm Claudette, including eight children on a bus run by a youth ranch for abused and neglected kids

Ten people have been killed in a 15-car pile up in Alabama during Tropical Storm Claudette, including eight children on a bus run by a youth ranch for abused and neglected kids

Ten people have been killed in a 15-car pile up in Alabama during Tropical Storm Claudette, including eight children on a bus run by a youth ranch for abused and neglected kids

Authorities said the crash took place Saturday about 35 miles (55 kilometers) south of Montgomery on Interstate 65 when the vehicles likely hydroplaned on wet roads caused by the storm. Pictured the scene above

Authorities said the crash took place Saturday about 35 miles (55 kilometers) south of Montgomery on Interstate 65 when the vehicles likely hydroplaned on wet roads caused by the storm. Pictured the scene above

Authorities said the crash took place Saturday about 35 miles (55 kilometers) south of Montgomery on Interstate 65 when the vehicles likely hydroplaned on wet roads caused by the storm. Pictured the scene above

The eight girls killed in the van were returning to a youth ranch operated by the Alabama Sheriffs Association near Camp Hill, northeast of Montgomery, from a week at the beach in Gulf Shores.

Youth ranches CEO Michael Smith told The Associated Press the director of the Tallapoosa County ranch survived the crash and was hospitalized in Montgomery. 

At least one of the dead was a child of the director, Smith said.

Smith broke down in tears as he described the incident as ‘the worst tragedy I’ve been a part of in my life.’ 

‘Words cannot explain what I saw,’ Smith said of the accident site, which he visited Saturday. 

‘We love these girls like they’re our own children.’  

He said he was driving Sunday to Camp Hill to talk to the remaining residents, who had returned from Gulf Shores in a separate van and did not see the wreck. 

Smith said the Christian-based ranch would likely have a memorial service later and asked for people to pray for the victims and their loved ones. 

The Tallapoosa County school system said counselors would be available Sunday at Reeltown High School, where some of the ranch residents were students. 

Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch released a statement on Facebook Saturday saying the community’s ‘hearts are heavy.’  

Debris sits along a creek and roadway in Northport, Alabama, Sunday following the storm

Debris sits along a creek and roadway in Northport, Alabama, Sunday following the storm

Debris sits along a creek and roadway in Northport, Alabama, Sunday following the storm

Debris covers a street in East Brewton, Alabama, Saturday in the wake of Tropical Storm Claudette which has claimed 12 lives in the state

Debris covers a street in East Brewton, Alabama, Saturday in the wake of Tropical Storm Claudette which has claimed 12 lives in the state

Debris covers a street in East Brewton, Alabama, Saturday in the wake of Tropical Storm Claudette which has claimed 12 lives in the state 

Ten people have been killed in a 15-car pile up in Alabama during Tropical Storm Claudette, including eight children on a bus run by a youth ranch for abused and neglected kids

Ten people have been killed in a 15-car pile up in Alabama during Tropical Storm Claudette, including eight children on a bus run by a youth ranch for abused and neglected kids

Ten people have been killed in a 15-car pile up in Alabama during Tropical Storm Claudette, including eight children on a bus run by a youth ranch for abused and neglected kids

‘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 statement 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. 

‘Thank you for your thoughts and prayers and respecting the privacy of our large and extended families.’

The I-65 northbound was completely shut down at the Greenville 130 exit Saturday as emergency services responded to the scene.  

The location of the wreck is ‘notorious’ for hydroplaning, as the northbound highway curves down a hill to a small creek, said Butler County Coroner Wayne Garlock.  

The I-65 northbound was completely shut down at the Greenville 130 exit Saturday as emergency services responded to the scene

The I-65 northbound was completely shut down at the Greenville 130 exit Saturday as emergency services responded to the scene

The I-65 northbound was completely shut down at the Greenville 130 exit Saturday as emergency services responded to the scene 

Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch released a statement on Facebook Saturday saying the community's 'hearts are heavy'

Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch released a statement on Facebook Saturday saying the community's 'hearts are heavy'

Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch released a statement on Facebook Saturday saying the community’s ‘hearts are heavy’

Several community groups also paid tributes to the victims of the tragic road accident

Several community groups also paid tributes to the victims of the tragic road accident

Several community groups also paid tributes to the victims of the tragic road accident 

Traffic on that stretch of I-65 is usually filled with vacationers driving to and from Gulf of Mexico beaches on summer weekends.

County Sheriff Danny Bond wrote on Facebook: ‘Butler County has had one of the most terrible traffic accidents.

‘I believe is the worst ever in our county.’  

Governor Kay Ivey sent her thoughts out to the families of all 12 people who have perished in the storm in Alabama.

“Yesterday was a tragic day for our state. My heart goes out to the loved ones of all who perished during the storm in Butler & Tuscaloosa counties,’ she tweeted.

‘Let’s keep these families, communities & first responders lifted in prayer.’ 

The deaths occurred as Claudette crashed into the Gulf Coast late Friday into early Saturday, destroying homes in its path and stranding people in flash floods. 

Drenching rains pelted northern Alabama and Georgia late Saturday. 

As much as 12 inches (30 centimeters) of rain was reported earlier along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  

The Gulf Coast has been hammered by Claudette this week which was raised to a tropical storm Saturday

The Gulf Coast has been hammered by Claudette this week which was raised to a tropical storm Saturday

The Gulf Coast has been hammered by Claudette this week which was raised to a tropical storm Saturday

The devastating storm that has swept across the southeastern US this week, causing flash flooding and spurring tornadoes that destroyed dozens of homes

The devastating storm that has swept across the southeastern US this week, causing flash flooding and spurring tornadoes that destroyed dozens of homes

The devastating storm that has swept across the southeastern US this week, causing flash flooding and spurring tornadoes that destroyed dozens of homes

More than 20 people had to be rescued Saturday by boat due to flooding in Northport, Alabama, WVUA-TV reported.

The Tuscaloosa County Emergency Management Agency tweeted that local Red Cross volunteers were on hand to help those who were affected with a local shelter set up in Northport. 

Meanwhile, a suspected tornado spurred by the storm demolished or badly damaged at least 50 homes in a small town in Alabama, just north of the Florida border.

Sheriff Heath Jackson in Escambia County said a suspected tornado ‘pretty much leveled’ a mobile home park, toppled trees onto houses and ripped the roof off of a high school gym. 

A resident walks through a partially flooded trailer park in Northport, Alabama, after it was thrashed by Claudette

A resident walks through a partially flooded trailer park in Northport, Alabama, after it was thrashed by Claudette

A resident walks through a partially flooded trailer park in Northport, Alabama, after it was thrashed by Claudette

Tropical Depression Claudette has claimed 12 lives in Alabama as the storm swept across the southeastern US this week

Tropical Depression Claudette has claimed 12 lives in Alabama as the storm swept across the southeastern US this week

Tropical Depression Claudette has claimed 12 lives in Alabama as the storm swept across the southeastern US this week 

Most of the damage was done in or near the towns of Brewton and East Brewton, about 48 milesnorth of Pensacola, Florida.

‘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.’

Tornadoes were also reported in southwest Georgia.

Damage from the storm was also felt in north Florida, where winds – in some cases reaching 85 mph (137 kph) – caused an 18-wheeler to flip on its side.

The storm also dumped flooding rains north of Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana and along the Mississippi coast, inundating streets and, in some areas, pushing water into homes. 

Later, the storm was drenching the Florida Panhandle and, well inland, a broad expanse of Alabama. 

Over in Louisiana, a woman in labor was left stranded on her way to the hospital as police were forced to rescue 50 to 60 cars from Louisiana floods as the storm hit land. 

Flooding in Slidell, Louisiana, Saturday caused by Tropical Storm Claudette which ravaged the Gulf Coast

Flooding in Slidell, Louisiana, Saturday caused by Tropical Storm Claudette which ravaged the Gulf Coast

Flooding in Slidell, Louisiana, Saturday caused by Tropical Storm Claudette which ravaged the Gulf Coast

Cars stranded on the flooded Gause Boulevard in Slidell, Louisiana, late Friday after Tropical Storm Claudette thrashed the Gulf Coast overnight Friday

Cars stranded on the flooded Gause Boulevard in Slidell, Louisiana, late Friday after Tropical Storm Claudette thrashed the Gulf Coast overnight Friday

Cars stranded on the flooded Gause Boulevard in Slidell, Louisiana, late Friday after Tropical Storm Claudette thrashed the Gulf Coast overnight Friday

A woman in labor was left stranded on her way to hospital as police were forced to rescue 50 cars from the Louisiana floods, according to the Slidell Police Department

A woman in labor was left stranded on her way to hospital as police were forced to rescue 50 cars from the Louisiana floods, according to the Slidell Police Department

A woman in labor was left stranded on her way to hospital as police were forced to rescue 50 cars from the Louisiana floods, according to the Slidell Police Department

The pregnant woman was heading to Slidell Memorial Hospital in Slidell, Louisiana, near New Orleans, possibly going into labor when she became trapped by flood water along the roadways, according to a Facebook post from the Slidell Police Department.

The woman was among multiple people authorities pulled from flooded cars along the city’s major thoroughfare Friday night and into Saturday morning. 

No major injuries were reported but authorities urged people to exercise caution when driving through neighborhoods as floodwater, debris and downed trees were scattered around. 

Claudette had been declared a named storm at 4 am Saturday morning after it became both powerful and organized enough to meet the National Hurricane Center’s criteria.

It was downgraded to an active tropical depression however it continued on its relentless path of destruction Sunday.  

A flooded neighborhood is seen after Tropical Storm Claudette passed through Slidell

A flooded neighborhood is seen after Tropical Storm Claudette passed through Slidell

A flooded neighborhood is seen after Tropical Storm Claudette passed through Slidell

Danny Gonzales, right, stands in front of his flooded house with his neighbor Bob Neal

Danny Gonzales, right, stands in front of his flooded house with his neighbor Bob Neal

Danny Gonzales, right, stands in front of his flooded house with his neighbor Bob Neal

Drivers along the flooded Cedar Lake Road in Biloxi, Mississippi, found the road underwater and their cars almost parallel to the moored boats in the small harbor, Saturday

Drivers along the flooded Cedar Lake Road in Biloxi, Mississippi, found the road underwater and their cars almost parallel to the moored boats in the small harbor, Saturday

Drivers along the flooded Cedar Lake Road in Biloxi, Mississippi, found the road underwater and their cars almost parallel to the moored boats in the small harbor, Saturday

Flash flood watches continued to be in place Sunday for northern Georgia, most of South Carolina, the North Carolina coast and parts of southeast Alabama and the Florida Panhandle. 

A tropical storm warning was also in effect in North Carolina from the Little River Inlet to the town of Duck on the Outer Banks while a tropical storm watch was issued from South Santee River, South Carolina, to the Little River Inlet.

Top winds remained near 30 mph (45 kph) on Sunday. 

National Hurricane Center forecasters predicted Claudette would strengthen back to tropical storm status Monday over eastern North Carolina before heading out to sea in the Atlantic Ocean.

The center of Claudette’s disorganized circulation was located about 15 miles (20 kilometers) east-northeast of Atlanta on Sunday morning. 

It was moving east-northeast at 17 mph (28 kph), the National Hurricane Center said.

Separately, Tropical Storm Dolores made landfall on Mexico´s west coast with near-hurricane force. As of Sunday morning, it had dissipated over Mexico. Its remnants had maximum sustained winds of 25 mph (35 kph), and it was centered about 170 miles (275 kilometers) east of Mazatlan, Mexico.

Heavy rainfall totals up to 15 inches (38 centimeters) were expected across the southwest and western coastal areas of Mexico throughout the weekend. Forecasters were warning of the potential for flash flooding and mudslides.

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