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JEFFERSON COUNTY, AL (WBRC) -
The Jefferson County Coroner's Office has identified the family killed last night near Birmingport Road as Amber Nicole Verus, 23, her husband Ryan Max Culwell, 20, and their 10-month-old daughter Rogue Marie Culwell, all from Hanceville.
The family was killed Monday evening when two robbery suspects allegedly collided with their vehicle while they waited at the traffic light at the intersection of Minor Parkway and Birmingport Road. Authorities are still searching for the two suspects.
Police say Monday nights events began when the robbery suspects stole an empty wallet from an elderly man in Cordova and then fled the scene.
According to preliminary reports and eyewitness statements, Dora police were pursuing the two robbery suspects in west Jefferson County.
Dora officers alerted other law enforcement agencies as the chase progressed, and at one point a Jefferson County Sheriff's deputy spotted the white SUV allegedly driven by the suspects.
The deputy was traveling in the opposite direction and when he attempted to turn around and pursue the suspects, he ran into a ditch. He was transported to the hospital Monday evening but is expected to be fine.
Witnesses say that as the suspects approached the intersection of Minor Parkway and Birmingport Road, they hit the Hanceville family's car. They say the car was knocked from the light at the intersection into the median.
After the collision, witnesses say that the suspects exited their vehicle and fled on foot.
Several people say they ran to the car to give aid to the occupants and also called 9-1-1. Witnesses add that they found a man, a woman and a small child inside the car. A couple on the scene says by the time paramedics arrived, the car's occupants were dead.
Accident reconstruction team officers say that a gun was recovered at the scene of the accident. They add that U.S. Marshals are following up on several leads on the suspects.
Around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, about a dozen more law enforcement officers arrived to the scene near the wreck, many of them wearing camouflage. The Birmingham Police Department, Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, U.S. Marshals and other agencies are assisting in the investigation of this case.
Cordova Police Chief Kenneth Bobo says his department responded to the report of the original robbery and processed the scene, but never gave chase to the robbery suspects. Bobo says the suspects stole a wallet with no money from a couple. One of the victims, a 77-year-old man, was taken to the hospital and had staples put in his head due to an injury he suffered during the robbery.
Bobo says the robbery suspects involved in the fatal wreck will at least face attempted murder charges and may be charged with capital murder in the case. Chief Bobo says his thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this tragedy.
Police also say the SUV the robbery suspects fled in and then abandoned was a rental. No official description of the suspects has been released.
A fund to cover burial expenses for the family of the tragic accident
has been set up at Traditions Bank.
Donations can be made at any of the Traditions Bank to the Ryan Culwell Family Fund. Donations can be mailed to the bank at:
109 2nd Ave NW
Cullman, AL 35055
c/o The Ryan Culwell Family Fund