TEUTOPOLIS, IL – A multi-vehicle accident involving a semi-truck carrying anhydrous ammonia resulted in the death of five people, including two children, and left five others seriously injured in central Illinois, authorities confirmed on Saturday. The incident occurred on US Highway 40 in Teutopolis around 9:30 p.m. on Friday when the truck overturned, leading to hazardous air conditions and the evacuation of approximately 500 residents.
The accident involved three semi-trucks, one of which caught fire. The tanker carrying the ammonia began to leak after it rolled into a ditch. Among the deceased were three adults and two children who succumbed to the gas leak. The children and one adult were from the same family residing in the area. The other victims included a Missouri resident and the truck driver from Ohio.
Five other victims were airlifted to the hospital. Parts of Teutopolis and areas within a mile of the spill were under an evacuation order set to lift on Sunday morning. Emergency crews and Hazmat teams are working tirelessly to clean up the site of the crash, as well as remove the toxic chemical from the area.
Effingham County Sheriff Paul Kuhns described the horrors of the accident, particularly the chemical spill. He said that the collision caused a large cloud of anhydrous ammonia to be released. This created hazardous air conditions in the area that delayed emergency responders’ efforts. Overnight winds further complicated the situation.
The National Transportation Safety Board has deployed a 15-person team to investigate the crash. Anhydrous ammonia, commonly used by farmers as a nitrogen fertilizer and as a refrigerant in large buildings, is typically transported across the United States by pipeline, trucks, and trains.