TEUTOPOLIS, Ill. (WTWO/WAWV) — The investigation is ongoing into a semi-crash and deadly chemical spill in Teutopolis, Illinois this past weekend.
Five people died from exposure to anhydrous ammonia, at the scene. The individuals were identified as 34-year-old Kenneth Bryan, along with his two children, Rosie and Walker. 31-year-old Vasile Crico-Van of Ohio and 67-year-old Danny J. Smith of Missouri were also killed.
Five others were airlifted to area hospitals as a result of exposure at the site while two others were treated at a hospital in Effingham.
Bryan lived with longtime family friends, Megan and Jordan Elmore, at a home near the crash site. The Elmores have lived in a house along U.S. 40 in Effingham County, Illinois for about eight years. The Elmores were not home when the multiple-vehicle crash involving a tanker truck occurred.
The crash caused the tanker to leak toxic anhydrous ammonia into the air. Megan Elmore explained her side of the story.
“Both Jordan and I were out of town. We were out of town separately,” Elmore said. However, she noted that her long-time roommate and friend, Kenneth Bryan, was home.
“He was a very good friend of ours. He had been living in the room we have upstairs. They had gotten home just 2 minutes before the accident happened. He and his 2 kids, they were both, they were all outside, in the driveway, when the initial plume of anhydrous came through,” Elmore explained.
Bryan’s two children, 10-year-old Walker and 7-year-old Rosie would visit every other weekend.
According to the Effingham County Coroner, all three died due to exposure to anhydrous ammonia.
Meanwhile, Megan said the couple has long been worried about the potential for crashes on that stretch of road because traffic is often diverted to it when there’s a problem on nearby I-70.
“It’s hard to get in and out of the home and we’re always worried, someone won’t be paying attention,” Elmore said.
Now, their fears of a crash have been realized and their friend and his children have lost their lives.
According to the Illinois Department of Environmental Management, 500 people had to temporarily evacuate their homes following the anhydrous ammonia leak.
The National Transportation Safety Board said Sunday, that it is doing its own investigation, which will be safety-focused. That investigation runs parallel to the Illinois State Police investigation. The NTSB said Sunday its team will be on the scene for four to six days and that the agency expects a preliminary report, to be published in about 30 days.
Final reports, take about 12 and 24 months to complete. Anyone with information relevant to the investigation, including any video footage, is asked to email the NTSB.