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‘Celebration of Life’ planned for Girls Ranch victims killed in I-65 crash

Published: Jul. 15, 2021 at 5:39 AM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - A memorial service is being held Thursday to honor the eight children of the Alabama Sheriffs Youth Ranch who were killed in a multi-car wreck on I-65 in Butler County.

Organizers are calling it a “Celebration of Life” because they hope it will be a time to rejoice and a time for closure.

The 17 car pile-up killed 10 people on June 19. Eight of them were traveling back to the Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch from a trip to the beach.

“It’s time for us to come together as a ranch family, with all the people in the community that has embraced us so wonderfully,” said Michael Smith, CEO of the Alabama Sheriff’s Youth Ranches said.

Smith said the grieving process has been difficult for everyone connected to the ranch.

“You know, when this first happened, it was such a tragedy. But now as everybody comes together and embracing us like they are, I can’t tell you what that’s done not only for our ranch family but other people that were connected to those children also. It’s, it’s amazing, actually, we’re so excited that to have this celebration of life,” said Smith.

Thursday’s ceremony will include praise and worship music. Honor guards from law enforcement around Alabama will also be in attendance to honor the first responders who worked on the scene of the wreck.

Director of the Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch, Candice Gulley, who was injured in that accident and lost two of her own children, will be one of the speakers.

The celebration of life memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. at the Church of the Highlands Auburn East campus.

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