Cody Fox and his 9-month-old daughter died this weekend after a multi-vehicle collision. The Alabama crash claimed 10 lives, including nine children, eight of whom were in a vehicle from the Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch. The accident occurred about 35 miles south of Montgomery on Interstate 65.
Fox, 29, was from New Hope, Tennessee, and was traveling with his 9-month-old daughter when their car was part of the multi-car pileup. “He was a great guy and we’re really gonna miss him,” Fox’s coworker, Aaron Sanders said. They worked at the emergency management agency in Marion County.
Cody Fox also sold hot tubs during his time away from the office, according to Sanders. Fox was also remembered as a great father to his 9-month-old daughter. “He just loved her to death and that was his life,” Sanders admitted. Cody Fox was identified in a press release from Butler County, posted to Facebook by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.
The crash occurred on Interstate 65 in Butler County on Saturday, June 19. There were 17 vehicles involved, including two commercial vehicles, and seven went ablaze. Along with Cody Fox and his daughter, eight children were killed, pronounced dead at the scene.
The children, who were ages 3-17, were coming from a week-long excursion at the beach in Gulf Shores. The van caught fire and only the van’s driver, Candice Gulley, survived the deadly crash. Though the victims have not been identified, their ages have been released. The fatalities include a 3-year-old, 8-year-old, 12-year-old, 14-year-old, 15-year-old, two 16-year-olds, and a 17-year-old.
Hal Taylor, ALEA’s Secretary of Law Enforcement, said in a statement that “investigating fatal crashes is one of the most difficult responsibilities of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency” and “yesterday, was an extremely heartbreaking day for the state of Alabama as 10 lives were tragically lost in one horrific event.”
Taylor continued, explaining that “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 crash likely occurred when vehicles hydroplaned on wet roads caused by Tropical Storm Claudette, though police are still investigating what happened.
The heartbreaking event took the lives of nine children, some of whom were members of the Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch. The Ranch is a haven for neglected or abused children. The ranch’s director, Candice Gulley, was the lone survivor from the van, which carried her two children, girls from the girls’ ranch, and guests. Gulley is in critical condition but is expected to survive, according to Michael Smith, the Youth Ranch’s CEO.
“Her life was saved, and we’re so blessed with that,” Smith said in a statement. “Unfortunately, we lost the other eight passengers.”
He continued, explaining that “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. That’s a sad day.”
Reeltown High School, where four of the children attended school, was a center for the community to gather and discuss the tragedy of Saturday’s crash. Faith leaders, along with the local community, gathered in the gymnasium where they sought emotional support. The facility was opened to “show families and students that they are not hurting alone,” according to Clifton Maddox, the school’s principal.
Seventeen vehicles were piled up on Interstate 65 during the Alabama crash. Lacey Willis, a CNN producer, was with her family when their car veered off-road during the event. They were returning to Atlanta from a beach drop in Destin, Florida when their vehicle was sent into the grass on the median following a tremendous impact.
Willis described the Alabama Crash, remembering that “it wasn’t downpouring” but that the road was still slippery and covered with water. After the pileup, Willis was “barefoot, standing on I-65, walking, walking far enough away,” she explained. “I was just praying.”
During the event, people were calling for help, begging others to call 911. Vehicles had caught on fire, leaving some stranded on the side of the road while rescue officials arrived on the scene. Many did not know what mile marker they were on, which made response time take longer.
Willis, whose husband was pulling people trapped in their vehicles, said that her family was stuck at the scene for five hours. Though she was lucky to survive, Willis admitted that “there’s a little guilt aspect.
“Those families’ lives are changed forever,” Willis said, “and I hope that somehow people will find a way to be OK. Because this was tragic for a lot of people. We are very, very fortunate.”