Two semi-trucks crashed into a Girls Ranch van, killing all eight children aboard.
An Alabama law firm has filed a lawsuit against two trucking companies and a driver involved in a deadly multi-vehicle collision on Interstate 65 in Butler County.
ABC News reports that a sudden slow-down on the interstate led to a semi-truck rear-ending another vehicle, then veering into the left lane. The truck collided with a Girl Ranch vehicle, which was full of children.
After impact, the Girls Ranch vehicle caught on fire. The ensuing blaze killed all eight of underage passengers, two of whom were the driver’s own daughters. The victims, says WSFA.com, were aged between 4 and 17.
Two others—an adult and a juvenile–died from the collision, which involved a total of 17 vehicles.
According to WSFA.com, the lawsuit was filed by the Beasley Allen Law Firm on behalf of a Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch driver.
“The defendants, in this case, were negligent and displayed a complete disregard for the lives of fellow travelers around them,” Beasley Allen attorney Greg Allen. “As a result, 10 people died that day, including eight children who were trapped in a van driven by our client Mrs. Candice L. Gulley. Those children burned to death needlessly. It is hard to imagine a more tragic and gut-wrenching set of circumstances, which demand justice and accountability to the fullest measure.”
Gulley, says WSFA.com, had been driving the Girls Ranch van back from Gulf Shores, Alabama.
When the van began traveling northbound on I-65, it came parallel with a 2020 Volvo semi-truck owned and operated by Hansen & Adkins Auto Transport.
WSFA.com notes that the van and the 2020 Volvo were driving in front of another semi-truck, which was owned and operated by Asmat Investment LLC.
When the vehicles reached an overpass, traffic suddenly came to a halt. The Hansen vehicle reportedly failed to stop; it crashed into a Ford Explorer, then veered into the Girls Ranch van.
Immediately afterward, the Asmat truck hit the Girls Ranch vehicle from behind.
The two semi-truck collisions caused a fire, which quickly engulfed the van. Bystanders were able to pull Gulley from the wreckage. However, when Gulley tried to open the van to pull out the eight children inside, she was unable to open its doors due to a combination of physical damage and fire.
“All of the children were killed in the fire,” the lawsuit states.
“This tragedy should never have happened,” Allen said in a statement. “We cannot erase or change the disastrous outcome, but we can work to provide answers that will allow a court to hold the defendants accountable for the lives they have devastated.”
ABC News observes that a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board describes the accident in similar terms to the lawsuit, the NTSB has yet to ascribe blame for the accident.