Eight of the killed children, aged 4 to 17, were in a vehicle at the Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch, Garlock said. The Youth Ranch provides a home for neglected or abused school-aged children, according to the Alabama Sheriffs Youth Ranches, the nonprofit that runs the Tallapoosa County Girls’ Ranch and others across the state. .
A 29-year-old father and 9-month-old daughter who were in another vehicle were also killed, Garlock said.
The crash happened on I-65 northbound at mile 138 on Saturday afternoon in storms that swept through the state, Garlock said. A tropical depression known as Tropical Storm Claudette dumped heavy rain in the southeast on Saturday after coming ashore in southeast Louisiana early that morning.
The driver of the Girls Ranch small bus was pulled from the burning vehicle, Garlock said, but rescue personnel were unable to reach the girls in time.
In a statement, Michael Smith, CEO of the Alabama Sheriffs Youth Ranches, called the accident “a horrible tragedy and loss.”
“This morning I reflected on how we don’t always understand why things happen,” Smith said.
“However, we will continue to hold on to our God for peace and comfort as our hearts continue to break. Please continue to pray for us as we go through this difficult time. ”
The Alabama law enforcement agency has asked members of the public who may have photos or videos of the crash to submit them to law enforcement.
CNN’s Deanna Hackney contributed to this report.