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Tenn. Dad Who 'Always Put His Family First' and His Infant Daughter Among 10 Killed in Ala. Crash

·5 min read

South Pittsburg Mountain Volunteer Fire Department Cody Fox and his daughter Ariana

A Tennessee father and his infant daughter are being remembered after Alabama authorities confirmed that both died in the "horrific" multi-vehicle crash on Saturday.

In a press release on Sunday, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) said Cody Fox, of New Hope, and his 9-month-old daughter were among the 10 victims killed in the crash on Interstate 65 in Butler County.

The South Pittsburg Mountain Volunteer Fire Department - of which Cody, 29, was a member - later identified their late colleague's daughter as Ariana Fox.

Eight other children from Alabama, ages 3 to 17, were also killed in the fiery collision, officials said.

Four of the minors were foster home children from the Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch in Camp Hill, according to AL.com. Their identities have not been released "because many were in the care of the state," the local outlet reported.

The other four children in the van who were killed were the son and daughter of Ranch Director Candice Gulley, and her two nephews, AL.com reported.

"Yesterday, was an extremely heartbreaking day for the state of Alabama as 10 lives were tragically lost in one horrific event," ALEA's Secretary of Law Enforcement Hal Taylor said in a statement. "I would like to offer my sincerest condolences to the friends and families of loved ones lost in Saturday's terrible crash, as well as my gratitude to all of the first responders and volunteers who quickly and valiantly responded to the scene."

"It was a difficult and unimaginable scene for many, and our thoughts and prayers are with all involved as we continue to investigate and provide closure for those affected," Taylor added.

RELATED: 9 Kids, 1 Adult Dead in Alabama Car Crash That Involved Girls Ranch Vehicle: 'The Most Horrific Accident'

Following news of the crash, tributes began to pour in for Cody and his daughter.

Friend Tyler Payne called Cody "the best friend, the best man [and] the best father."

"He had the most sweetest and cutest daughter. Cody was my brother," Payne wrote in a Facebook tribute alongside several photos of them together. "I can't believe this happened. May God rest your soul Cody and Ariana."

Cody's brother, Blake Fox, issued a statement to CBS affiliate WDEF and said Cody "always put his family first" and often helped out with their family's business, Tennessee Tub Factory.

"He is loved by so many and is such a good father," Blake said. "He had a drive unlike anyone else when it came to building the family business with my dad. He was always ready to help anyone out. He always put his family first."

Marion County EMA - where Cody worked as an associate, according to his Facebook - also expressed their heartbreak over the tragedy in a post.

"Words cannot express the grief I have felt since I received the call yesterday afternoon informing me of the death of Cody and his daughter in an automobile accident in southern Alabama," the Facebook post reads. "Cody was an integral part of the EMA staff in Marion County, always ready, always willing to serve."

"His upbeat attitude, his willingness to learn, and without a doubt the politest young man I have ever known, will be greatly missed," the post continued. "I offer my deepest prayers for his parents and family. He was a dedicated responder, a good son, a good brother, a good father and a good friend. I will miss him."

Richard Hardy Memorial School, from which Cody graduated in 2011, paid tribute to their former student and revealed the crash happened as he was driving home from a family vacation.

"Our faculty and staff have heavy hearts today as we mourn the loss of one [of] our alumni," the school wrote on Facebook. "Cody Fox, a member of the Class of 2011, and his 9-month-old daughter were tragically killed in an accident yesterday returning from a vacation trip. We would like to express our deepest sympathies to his family."

In the South Pittsburg Mountain Volunteer Fire Department's post, they said they were sending their "thoughts and prayers to the family, friends, and members of the Marion County EMA for the loss of EMA Member Cody Fox and his daughter Ariana."

The department also noted that Cody's fianceè, Hayle, was involved in the crash and is currently in the ICU.

RELATED VIDEO: Head-On Collision In California Kills 10, Including 5 Teens

According to the ALEA, a total of 17 vehicles, including two commercial vehicles, were involved in the crash which unfolded around 2:30 p.m. on Saturday. Seven of the 17 vehicles were ablaze when first responders arrived at the scene, their post stated.

Michael Smith, the CEO of the Alabama Sheriff's Youth Ranches, confirmed to AL.com that the young girls from the ranch were traveling in two vehicles on the way back from a trip to the city of Gulf Shores. The first vehicle was involved in the deadly crash but the girls in the second vehicle did not see the wreck, he confirmed.

Butler County Coroner Wayne Garlock told AL.com that the driver of the bus was pulled from the vehicle by a bystander. When they attempted to go back to retrieve the children inside, they were sadly unable to do so, Garlock said.

"It was too late to get back to them because the bus was engulfed in fire," Garlock said, per the outlet.

The driver of the bus was later identified as Gulley. She is now recovering at a hospital, AL.com reported.

ALEA Troopers and investigators from the National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB) are currently investigating the incident, according to the ALEA's post.

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