Mom survives after losing both kids in horror 18-car pileup that killed 10 after Tropical Storm Claudette hit Alabama

Mom survives after losing both kids in horror 18-car pileup that killed 10 after Tropical Storm Claudette hit Alabama

06/21/2021

A MOTHER is in a serious condition in hospital today after losing two children in a horror 18-vehicle pile-up that claimed the lives of ten people.

Candice Gulley was driving her son and daughter, four girls who live at an abuse survivor's ranch, and two guests home from a beach vacation on Saturday afternoon when they were involved in the fatal crash.

Read our Storm Claudette live blog for the latest news and updates…



The Alabama Sheriffs Youth Ranches van she was driving and other vehicles slammed together on a ran-drenched highway as Tropical Storm Claudette brought chaos to the state.

According to WBRZ, the vehicle erupted in flames on the wet Interstate.

Gulley was the only survivor from the vehicle after she was dragged from the flames by a bystander.

She suffered serious injuries and was hospitalized but is now said to be in a stable condition.


The mom was the director of the Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch, a non-profit that is home to "Alabama's needy, neglected, or abused, school-aged children."

Michael Smith, chief executive of the nonprofit organization, said he would not share the names and ages of the four girls from the ranch who died in the crash.

He said that Gulley's son and daughter were aged four and 16.

"It was horrendous. I've never seen anything like it in my whole life," Smith said of the crash.

He had been traveling in a seperate vehicle and did not see the crash but visited the aftermath.

According to its website, within the Ranch, "children live in family situations with house parents on working ranches" to teach "Christian principles, hard work, responsibility, manners, and loving-kindness." 


The Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch took to Facebook after the tragic incident to seek prayers in a difficult time.

"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 Facebook post 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."

Butler County Sheriff Danny Bond told Reuters the children on board were aged between four and 17 years old.

A 29-year-old father and his nine-month-old daughter were also killed in the crash in a separate vehicle.

Cody Smith, from Tennessee, was reported to be driving the car with his daughter Ariana, her mother, and others in the passenger seats.

The mother and other passengers did not suffer any major injuries.


Cody was pronounced dead on the scene and Ariana passed away at a hospital in Greenville.

The accident involved 18 vehicles, two of which were 18-wheelers, Bond explained, noting: "This was probably the most horrific accident in Butler County history."

The cause of the crash, which took place along Interstate Highway 65 between Greenville and Fort Deposit, is still under investigation.

The highway was awash with the powerful storm at the time.

Alabama Law Enforcement Agency officials are investigating whether it could have been caused by vehicles hydroplaning on the wet roadway.

Butler County Coroner Wayne Garlock told WBRZ the area is “notorious” for hydroplaning.

Five other people were hurt in the crash but none of their injuries were critical, Bond said.


Claudette was downgraded to a depression on Sunday but regained strength early Monday morning to become a tropical storm again.

Thirteen deaths have already been linked to the storm including the Alabama crash.

On Saturday, a 24-year-old man and a three-year-old boy were killed when a tree fell on their house.

A 23-year-old woman was also killed when her car ran off the road into a swollen creek, WHNT-TV reported.

Meanwhile, nearly two dozen people were rescued by boat in Northport, Alabama, due to flooding, according to WVUA-TV.

Following the rescue, the Tuscaloosa County Emergency Management Agency took to social media to announce that Red Cross volunteers were on hand to help anyone affected.

Approximately 12 inches of rain was reported along the Mississippi Gulf Coast and high winds continued around 30 mph.

Tropical Storm Claudette had maximum sustained winds of 35 mph, the National Hurricane Center said in an advisory on Monday morning.

It is moving northeast across the Carolinas.

It is then on track to move over the Atlantic Ocean.

A tornado warning is in place for Monday morning across the coastal Carolinas.

“An isolated tornado is possible early this morning over parts of the Outer Banks,” said Brad Reinhart, a specialist with the National Hurricane Center.

“By afternoon, we expect the system to be well offshore.”

Total rainfall between one and three inches is forceast for the area and parts of Georgia.

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