State Representative Adam Niemerg (R-Dieterich) thanked all first responders of a Friday night anhydrous ammonia leak in a traffic accident that has led to multiple deaths and portions of Teutopolis being evacuated. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) diverted traffic from Interstate 70 several hours earlier but had not yet resumed normal traffic back to I-70 several hours later. Five people died, with five seriously injured, involving multiple vehicles including a tractor-trailer tanker carrying anhydrous ammonia that overturned on Friday night, leading to a leak of toxic gas and necessitating evacuation of residents within a one-mile radius of the crash site.
“I want to thank all of the first responders and emergency personnel who have stepped up to get this emergency under control and my condolences to all of the families who have suffered loss and injury from this tragic event,” commented Rep. Adam Niemerg. “I have been frustrated this entire year by IDOT’s inability to take action to alleviate the accidents due to construction on Interstate 70. I have had little or no cooperation. Now, we have additional loss of life with my hometown evacuated. I am calling for a full investigation, full accountability from state IDOT officials, and an action plan initiated immediately to avoid any more tragedies such as this,” added Rep. Niemerg.
It is reported that Effingham County Coroner Kim Rhodes confirmed Saturday afternoon that five people were killed as a result of the crash and anhydrous ammonia leak. The fatalities consisted of an adult and two children from a local family, plus a motorist from Missouri and another from Ohio. The driver of the anhydrous ammonia tanker was among the five other people injured and airlifted out for medical treatment.
According to state police, more traffic than usual was on the roadway at the time because drivers on Interstate 70 had been diverted around the scene of an earlier crash that took place at 4:50 p.m. east of Effingham, state police said. Illinois State Police said in a news release Saturday morning that a multi-vehicle crash had occurred at approximately 9:25 p.m. Friday at 19740 East U.S. Highway 40, about half a mile east of Teutopolis.
Authorities initially evacuated a 2-square-mile area on the east side of town. Two regional hazardous materials teams, 15 emergency response departments and nearly 100 of their crew members responded to the spill Friday night. Representatives from the National Transportation Safety Board, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Illinois Emergency Management Agency and Office of Homeland Security were also on the scene Saturday.