Lawyers for the driver of a van for a girls home in Alabama announced a federal lawsuit against two trucking companies and a driver involved in a crash that killed 10 people, including eight children on June 19, the Associated Press reported.
Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch director Candice Gulley lost two of her own children and two nephews who were in the van during the fiery crash that occurred on Interstate 65. Her lawsuit, naming Hansen & Adkins Auto Transport of California, Asmat Express in Georgia and a driver for Asmat Express, describes how she tried to save the children ages 3 to 17 from the burning vehicle. A Tennessee man and his daughter died separately in another vehicle during the collision.
“All the children were killed by the fire,” stated the lawsuit that was filed Friday.
Gulley’s attorney, Greg Allen, said the crash “should never have happened.”
The lawsuit, announced Monday, said when Gulley was driving in the interstate’s left lane, the Hansen & Adkins failed to stop in traffic, hit a sport-utility vehicle and entered her lane. Then, her vehicle was hit from behind by the Asmat Express vehicle.
For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.
The federal lawsuit, which seeks an unspecified amount of money, recounts a desperate attempt by Gulley to free victims from the wreckage.
Pulled from the crumpled van by others, Gulley ran around trying to help children escape the burning vehicle, the suit said, but no one could be saved because of the flames and damage.
The suit said Gulley suffered burns, bruises and severe emotional and mental distress. During the crash, remnants of a tropical storm crossed the region on June 19.
California-based Hansen & Adkins Auto Transport and Asmat Express of Clarkston, Georgia, were identified by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) as being involved in the crash. It also named an Asmat driver identified as Mamuye Ayane Takelu.
While Hansen & Adkins has declined comment on details of the crash, Asmat has not responded to messages seeking comment. Neither company nor the driver filed immediate responses in court.
Besides Gulley and her husband Tommy Gulley, who lost two children, plaintiffs include the parents or personal representatives of four other children killed in the van.
The suit claims the trucks weren’t outfitted with anti-crash safety technology and that drivers were going too fast, distracted or following too closely.
“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,” Allen said in a statement released by Beasley Allen Law Firm in Montgomery.
A preliminary report by the NTSB described the crash similarly to the lawsuit but did not place blame or say what caused the wreck, which happened about 35 miles south of Montgomery.
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