Celebration of life held for 8 girls ranch victims killed in I-65 crash
AUBURN, Ala. (WSFA) - Hundreds of people attended a celebration of life at the Church of the Highlands’ Auburn East campus Thursday for the victims from the Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch killed in a multi-vehicle crash on Interstate 65.
Ten people died in the crash June 19. Eight of those killed were girls, staff member’s children and relatives with the Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch.
The names of the victims killed were released during the service. In releasing the names, organizers shared a brief glimpse into the life of each child:
- Bella- She was considered the “kindest young person you would ever want to meet” who loved hanging out with friends and doing normal teenage girl stuff.
- Ben- He never met a stranger and was always ready to help figure everything out for them.
- Dana- Her favorite quote that she often wrote in her notes: “You couldn’t understand me, even if I had come with instructions.” She was known to be the first to volunteer to help others, and she loved adventure. According to her obituary, she was 17.
- Haley- She had many friends and had a soft spot for animals and children.
- Josiah- He was known as a “bright light with a smile that could light up any dark room.” He loved to serve the Lord as well as spending time with his family, helping anyone in need and making people laugh.
- Makenzie- She was remembered for always trying to make sure everyone was OK and having a good day. She would leave encouraging words for others and loved her mom and sister.
- Nicholas- He was known as the baby of the ranch’s family. He loved animals and dreamed of having his own dog. At church, he participated in plays, helped with fundraisers and loved playing foosball in the game room.
- Tia- She was known to bring joy around her as she found joy in the simplest pleasures in life. She found happiness in her daily activities and loved helping people.
Ranch employee Candice Gulley, who lost two of her own children in the crash, spoke towards the end of the program. Gulley said people have commented to her about how strong she is, but Gulley added “it’s not me who is strong but God.”
Gulley was the driver of the ranch van. She was knocked unconscious and was rescued by bystanders.
The National Transportation Safety Board investigators say a preliminary report is expected to be released soon.
Copyright 2021 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.