Mother of nine, two children killed in Sumter County crash

Two of the woman’s other children were also hurt
Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 10:48 AM CDT
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SUMTER COUNTY, Ala. (WTOK) - A York mother of nine and two of her children were killed in a highway crash in Sumter County Tuesday night.

The crash happened around six o’clock on Sumter County 27 about six miles west of York. Troopers say 35-year old Ciarra Stephens was killed when her mini-van swerved off the road and hit a tree. Two of Stephens’ children also died at the scene. The children were six and seven years old. Troopers say the victims were not wearing seat belts.

Two other passengers were hurt and were taken to area hospitals. Troopers say those passengers were also Stephens’ children.

Sumter County Sheriff Brian Harris was the first law enforcement officer to respond. He says he heard loud cries from a child. Harris says it is an extremely tragic moment he will never forget.

“I mean-- to be here yesterday to see what we saw hits home,” Harris said, “I have a five, almost six-year-old child, and to see what we had to see yesterday was heartbreaking.”

The pain of the people in the community is evident as they grieve the loss of a mother and her two children.

Stephen’s neighbor, Shirley McBoy was driving home when she saw the accident. She says she was completely shocked when she found out Stephens and her children were involved.

“I just felt terrible after that,” McBoy said. “I’ve never seen that ever in my life.”

Lisa Coats, a family friend, says Stephens and her nine children were staying with her the past two months. Coats says Stephens was two-months pregnant.

“I hate that happened. I hate it for the kids, basically.” Coats said, “And for her too. I could not believe it. It just hurts because I know them.”

Sheriff Harris encourages people to be responsible while driving.

“I just want to say as a parent, as a sheriff, I would like to tell everyone to please be sure to watch your speed and make sure your child and children are secure in your vehicles. We see this kind of thing far too often.”

Investigators believe speed was a factor in the deadly crash.

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