A semitruck carrying anhydrous ammonia overturned in Illinois in a multiple vehicle crash, causing “multiple fatalities,” according to Illinois State Police. The accident occurred on U.S. Highway 40, near Teutopolis, Illinois. The impact of the crash caused the truck to start leaking, leading to a partial evacuation of nearby residents. The leak created dangerous air conditions, and an evacuation order was issued for an approximate one-mile radius around the crash site. Effingham County Sheriff Paul Kuhns described the situation as “very serious” and stated that there was a “large plume” from the ammonia leak.
During the news conference, authorities did not disclose the exact number of deaths resulting from the crash. However, Teutopolis fire chief Tim McMahon confirmed that five people were airlifted and one person was transported by ground to area hospitals. The air conditions caused delays in emergency responders’ access to the crash site, as they had to wait and mitigate the dangerous conditions. The highway between Teutopolis and Montrose remains closed, and efforts are underway to contain the leak and clean up the area.
Inhalation of anhydrous ammonia can be fatal at high concentrations, and it can also cause severe injuries to the skin, eyes, and respiratory system. The National Transportation Safety Board announced that it will investigate the crash in coordination with the Illinois State Police and the Effingham County Sheriff’s Department. Teutopolis is a small town with a population of approximately 1,600, situated southeast of Springfield, the capital of Illinois.