TEUTOPOLIS, IL (WTWO) – The Illinois State Police have announced multiple confirmed fatalities after a crash near Teutopolis involving multiple vehicles, including a semi-truck that was carrying anhydrous ammonia.
The crash also resulted in a leak of the hazardous material.
The incident took place just before 9:30 p.m., a release from the Illinois State Police (ISP) said. At the time, ISP confirmed “multiple fatalities.”
Kim Rhodes, the Effingham County Coroner, had later confirmed that five people, including two children, died as a result of Friday night’s crash and subsequent ammonia leak, Nexstar’s WCIA reported. Both children and one adult were confirmed to be from the same local family; the other fatalities involved victims from Missouri and Ohio.
Five other people were airlifted to nearby hospitals, including the driver of the truck that was carrying the ammonia, WCIA reported.
The surrounding area was since evacuated out of an abundance of caution.
“Due to the plume from the ammonia leak, people within an approximate one mile radius of the crash on U.S. Highway 40, including northeastern parts of Teutopolis, have been evacuated,” the ISP’s release stated.
Evacuation orders will remain in effect until Sunday, October 1, police said. U.S. Highway 40, between Teutopolis and Montrose, has also been closed.
At a press conference Saturday, Effingham County Sheriff Paul Kuhns said emergency crews were initially delayed by the “terribly dangerous air conditions” caused by the plume.
“The wind changed three or four different times on us,” added Tim McMahon, chief of the Teutopolis Fire Protection District. “That’s another reason we got crews out in different places, reporting back on which way the wind’s going.”
McMahon said the tanker began leaking after rolling over in a ditch.
Kuhns said he did not have information on whether the deaths were the result of the crash itself or the chemical leak. But he said that “the accident scene was large.”
Jennifer Gabris, a spokesperson for the National Transportation Safety Board, said the agency is investigating the incident.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.