‘They are my family’: Youth Program’s Executive Director reflects on the lives of the eight children lost in storm-related accident


ALABAMA (NewsNation Now) — The executive director of a program which lost several of its children in an accident during a tropical storm called the loss indescribable.

“We are all grieving in our own way,” said Michael Smith, the Executive Director of the Alabama Sheriffs Youth Ranch. “It’s, I can’t tell you the hurt that we have. Those children are like our children.”

Nine children died in the crash, eight of which were in one van returning from a beach trip. Smith explained that four of the girls lived on the ranch full time, two were the director of Ranch Life’s children and two were visiting the ranch.

The van’s driver and Director of Ranch Life was pulled from the wreckage by bystanders.

The program has four ranches throughout the state that are designed to help at risk children.

“And we really give all these children a second chance, a chance to break the cycle. Kids stay with us from ages eight to 18….It’s a residential care facility, where we raise these children just like they’re our own,” said Smith. “They are my family.”

Smith asked for prayers for the families of those who passed and the members of the community.

He also stated the company created a Go Fund Me page for the medical care of the program’s Director of Ranch Life, funeral costs and to purchase a new van to transport girls.

Watch the full interview in the player above

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