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Multiple lawsuits were filed against two trucking companies and a driver involved in a multi-vehicle crash on Interstate 65 in Butler County. Therefore, this could be the most fatal I-65 crash ever.

Beasley Allen Law Firm filed the lawsuit on behalf of the driver of a Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch van that was seriously injured in the crash and the families of five of the children who died in the crash.

“In this case, the defendants were irresponsible and showed a blatant disdain for the lives of fellow travelers around them.” Stated Greg Allen, Lead Products Liability lawyer at Beasley Allen Law Firm. “As a result, they killed ten individuals that day, including eight children trapped inside a van driven by our client Mrs. Candice L. Gulley. Thus, those children died in vain. It’s difficult to imagine a more terrible and gut-wrenching combination of circumstances that demand full justice and accountability.” 

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What led to this fatal I-65 crash.

Gulley was driving the Girls Ranch van, which was returning from a vacation in Gulf Shores with eight children, including two of her own. The vehicle went northbound on I-65 beside a 2020 Volvo truck-trailer owned and operated by Hansen & Adkins Auto Transport. The legal firm stated. Both vehicles were in front of an 18-wheeler driven by Mamuye Ayane Takelu and owned and operated by Asmat Investment LLC. Doing business as Asmat Express.

As the vehicles reached a bridge over Pigeon Creek Road on I-65, traffic north of the bridge slowed and came to a halt because of a series of minor collisions. According to the legal firm, the Hansen truck failed to come to a complete stop and collided with a 2020 Ford Explorer SUV before drifting into the left lane and colliding with the van. The van got struck moments later by the Asmat 18-wheeler. The crashes resulted in the ignition of a fire that burned the van, the 18-wheelers, and other vehicles. Bystanders rescued Mrs. Gulley from the wreckage. She then raced around the blazing van, attempting to save the children, but the flames and the crash’s substantial damage made this impossible.

Around 2:30 p.m. on June 19, the crash occurred near mile marker 138, near the Greenville exit. According to the National Transportation Safety Board’s preliminary report, the crash involved 12 vehicles and 38 individuals. Nine children and one adult died whereas another 26 had varied degrees of injuries.

The fatal I-65 crash killed all eight children in the van.

“This catastrophe should never have occurred,” Allen says. “While we cannot undo the tragic outcome, we can work to provide answers that will enable a court to hold the defendants accountable for the lives they have destroyed.”

According to the law firm, the families of five youngsters have filed a lawsuit against the two trucking companies responsible for the accident and wrongful conduct. The collision and subsequent fire resulted in the death of the eight children in the van.

Read the full NTSB report below or click here.

NTSB PRELIMINARY REPORT

“On Saturday, June 19, 2021, about 2:20 p.m. central daylight time, a 2020 Volvo truck-tractor in combination with an empty 2020 Cottrell autotransporter (CMV-1), operated by Hansen & Adkins Auto Transporter (Hansen), was traveling north in the right lane of Interstate 65 (I-65) near Greenville, in Butler County, Alabama, approaching the bridge over Pigeon Creek, near milepost 138.

Traffic north of the bridge had slowed and stopped, forming a queue, due to a series of minor crashes. As it encountered the traffic queue, CMV-1 struck a 2020 Ford Explorer (SUV) in the queue, which was occupied by a driver and three passengers.

After this initial impact, CMV-1 veered to the left, striking a Ford F350 transit van (van) occupied by a driver and nine passengers. After striking the van (and other queued vehicles), CMV-1 struck the left bridge rail and continued into the median beyond the north end of the bridge, coming to rest with a portion of its trailer in the roadway.

As a result of being struck by CMV-1, the SUV overturned and struck several other vehicles in the traffic queue before coming to rest in the roadway. Following this series of collisions, a 2005 Freightliner truck-tractor/2009 Wabash dry trailer combination unit (CMV-2), operated by Asmat Express (Asmat) came upon the stopped vehicles, veered left, struck and mounted the left bridge rail, struck the van, and came to rest in the median.

The van also came to rest in the median, facing south, between CMV-1 and CMV-2. As a result of the multiple collisions, a fire ensued. Fire consumed the combination units, the van, and three other vehicles.

Fatal I-65 crash
Alabama Law Enforcement Agency/NTSB

Post-crash scene on I-65 North. The photo has been redacted.

“In total, 12 vehicles and 38 vehicle occupants were involved in this crash event. Two SUV passengers and eight van passengers died as a result of the incident. Twenty-six people, including the drivers of the van and CMV-1, sustained injuries of varying degrees.

“There had been intermittent bands of rain of varying intensity throughout the day, and a light rain was falling at the time of the crash.

“In the area of the crash, I-65 is a four-lane, divided, asphalt-paved highway consisting of two travel lanes in each direction (northbound and southbound). The posted speed limit is 70 mph.

“The bridge crossing Pigeon Creek consists of twin bridge structures, each carrying one direction of traffic.

“Hansen, the motor carrier of CMV-1, is an interstate carrier with 41 terminals throughout the United States. The company has 1,225 tractors and employs 914 drivers. The CMV-1 driver-operated out of the Birmingham, Alabama, terminal. Asmat, the motor carrier of CMV-2, is an interstate carrier based in Clarkston, Georgia. The CMV-2 driver was an owner-operator.

“The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) continues to collect data on the crash sequence, the postcrash fire, the weather conditions and precipitation amounts, and the operations of the motor carriers. All aspects of the crash remain under investigation as the NTSB determines the probable cause with the intent of issuing safety recommendations to prevent similar crashes.

“The NTSB is working alongside the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA), which is conducting a separate, parallel, criminal investigation. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, ALEA, and the Alabama Department of Transportation are parties to the NTSB investigation.”