Tragic Crash in Teutopolis Claims 5 Lives and Prompted Toxic Substance Evacuation

TEUTOPOLIS, Ill. (AP) — A tragic crash on U.S. Highway 40 resulted in the deaths of five individuals and left five others seriously injured. The accident, which involved multiple vehicles, occurred about a half-mile east of Teutopolis on a Friday. Effingham County Coroner Kim Whodes identified the deceased as Kenneth Bryan, Rosie Bryan, Walker Bryan, Vasile Cricovan, and Danny J. Smith. The victims died from exposure to anhydrous ammonia at the crash site.

The crash prompted the evacuation of area residents, as the leak from the overturned truck carrying toxic substances caused concern. Effingham Fire Chief Brant Yochum confirmed that more than 500 people in Teutopolis had to evacuate their homes due to the hazardous situation. The National Transportation Safety Board is conducting a review of the crash, which also prompted an evaluation of the potential preventive measures that could have avoided the accident.

An EPA release stated that the semi-truck involved in the crash was carrying approximately 7,500 gallons of anhydrous ammonia, with an estimated 4,000 gallons released due to the accident. A mandatory evacuation was ordered due to the plume from the ammonia leak, affecting approximately 500 individuals from the surrounding area. Residents within an approximate one-mile radius of the crash were asked to evacuate.

Local, state, and federal agencies were involved in the emergency response to the crash. Efforts included rendering aid to the injured, road closures and reopening by IDOT, air monitoring by the U.S. EPA, and ongoing investigation into the cause of the crash by the Illinois State Police. Route 40, where the crash occurred, has since been reopened. The Illinois EPA will be overseeing the proper addressing of any contamination resulting from the incident.

The tragic crash in Teutopolis has left the community reeling from the loss of life and injury. The investigation into the cause of the accident remains ongoing, as authorities seek to determine what factors may have contributed to the tragic event.