A tanker truck carrying 7,500 gallons of ammonia ruptured after colliding with a trailer in Teutopolis, authorities said
Five people — including a father and his two children — have died and seven others were injured after a tragic accident on Friday involving a tanker truck carrying toxic ammonia, PEOPLE has confirmed.
At approximately 8:40 p.m. local time, a motor vehicle crash was reported to the Effingham County Sheriff's Department and the Teutopolis Fire Department on US Route 40, east of Teutopolis, Illinois, Effingham County Coroner Kim Rhodes said in a press release obtained by PEOPLE.
Rhodes added, “Upon arrival it was determined immediately the crash site was unsafe due to a ruptured tanker leaking anhydrous ammonia.”
After securing the scene and evacuating Teutopolis residents, multiple drivers left their vehicles behind “as they fled the crash site.” The accident occurred in a construction zone, which resulted in drivers being re-routed, according to the release.
"Preliminary investigation indicates five individuals died from exposure to anhydrous ammonia at the crash site," Rhodes said.
The victims were identified as Kenneth Bryan, 34, of Teutopolis; his two children, Rosie Bryan, 7, and Walker Bryan, 10, both of Beecher City, Illinois; Danny J. Smith, 67, of New Haven, Missouri; and Vasile Cricovan, 31, of Twinsburg, Ohio.
Five other people were airlifted to local hospitals and two were admitted to St. Anthony Hospital in Effingham “due to exposure at the scene,” per the release.
Several others were being treated “for anhydrous ammonia exposure due to traveling through the scene of the crash site,” the coroner said, adding about 100 first responders assisted during the incident.
The investigation is ongoing.
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Tom Chapman, a Board Member of the National Transportation Safety Board, said in a news conference on Sunday that the tanker truck jackknifed before smashing into a parked trailer.
“The truck rolled over and the cargo tank was compromised,” he said, noting that the tank itself was carrying about 7,500 gallons of toxic anhydrous ammonia.
“It happened in a relatively short period of time,” Chapman said during the news conference. “This was a rapid sequence of events.”
Joann Deters, 83, told the Herald & Review on Sunday that she was at home at the time of the accident.
“I didn’t smell it at first, just saw all the commotion outside and went to the front door to have a look,” Deters said. “And as soon as I opened the door it just hit me and I thought, ‘Oh, my God,' it was just such a terrible smell and I slammed the door shut.”
She recalled to the outlet about receiving a phone notification from a family member whose son-in-law was driving a FedEx truck at the end of the accident. “He backed up and got off of Route 40, but he called his mother and father-in-law and said, 'Get out now.'"
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