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NTSB says unsafe speeds, wet roads caused crash that killed 10 on I-65 in Butler County

Law enforcement personnel on the scene of a multi-vehicle crash in Butler County (Photo: Submitted by Ricky Scott){p}{/p}
Law enforcement personnel on the scene of a multi-vehicle crash in Butler County (Photo: Submitted by Ricky Scott)

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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released its preliminary report about what caused a multi-vehicle crash that killed 10 people in Butler County in June of 2021.

The crash happened in the northbound lanes of Interstate 65 near Greenville, Alabama.

Nine children were among the 10 people that died. Eight of the nine children who died were riding in a van that belonged to the Alabama Sheriffs Youth Ranches, but was being used by the Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch.

The van was one of two vehicles transporting several children back from a trip to Gulf Shores.

The two other victims killed, who were in a separate vehicle, were 29-year-old Cody Fox and his nine-month-old daughter, Ariana Fox.

19 other people sustained injuries in the crash.

The NTSB said it determined the probable cause of the crash was the unsafe speeds of multiple vehicles during rain, low visibility, and wet road conditions. Contributing to the fatal injuries of the transit van passengers was the postcrash fire.

RELATED: Hydroplaning car set off chain reaction on I-65 causing crash that killed 10 in Alabama

The investigation focused on one multi-vehicle crash sequence involving 10 passenger vehicles and two commercial trucks.

On the day of the incident, the NTSB said several passenger vehicles were slowing or had stopped due to earlier crashes, creating a traffic queue at the northern end of the bridge that crosses Pigeon Creek.

A 2020 Ford Explorer collided with a vehicle at the end of the traffic queue. A 2020 Volvo truck-tractor with a Cottrell trailer for transporting automobiles collided with the Ford Explorer, initiating a series of additional collisions in both travel lanes.

A 2005 Freightliner truck-tractor/2009 Wabash dry trailer combination vehicle that was following behind the Volvo auto-transporter combination vehicle collided with several vehicles and continued into the median.

The two commercial trucks and four passenger vehicles, including a 2017 transit van, came to rest in the center median. A postcrash fire ensued and destroyed the vehicles in the median.

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The posted speed limit was 70 mph.

The NTSB said driving at speeds above the speed limit or too fast for conditions can have serious consequences, including a loss of vehicle control, increased crash severity, and more severe injuries. Drivers should be knowledgeable about driving in inclement weather and the need to reduce their vehicle speed in response to conditions. The NTSB said it has identified a need for increased public awareness about the dangers of speeding and driving too fast for inclement weather. The NTSB said it also previously issued safety recommendations for highway and vehicle technologies addressing speeding that may prevent or reduce the severity of crashes.

Fuel tanks on commercial trucks involved in crashes are susceptible to high impact forces, resulting in ruptures, postcrash fuel spillage, and fire. The NTSB said it has previously recommended that federal regulators work to improve vehicle safety standards to improve the crashworthiness of side-mounted fuel tanks on truck-tractors.

You can view the NTSB report below.

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