TEUTOPOLIS, Ill. (WCIA) — People in Effingham County are still wrapping their minds around Friday’s heartbreaking accident in Teutopolis. That’s where a truck carrying anhydrous ammonia crashed and started leaking half a mile east of town on Highway 40.
Now, the community is stepping up and helping out in any way they can.
Kenneth Bryan and his two kids, Rosie and Walker, died from exposure to the chemical.
It’s a situation no one could ever prepare for, and Teutopolis is providing support at a time when the family needs it the most.
“He had a very big heart, contagious. Kenny never had a bad day,” Shelbi Willenborg and Morgan Brumleve said. They are his friends and co-workers at American Fiber Network.
Now, they’re trying to navigate through the emotional times, like many others in town.
“Kenny turned the day around,” Brumleve said. “Made the job 10 times better.”
Brumleve and Willenborg are working together and organizing a Jeep Ride to support the Bryan family.
“You can bring your motorcycle, your car, semis,” the co-workers said. “Kenny was very big into semis. He had a passion for semis.”
They’re aiming to raise money for unexpected expenses.
“It’s not your typical one funeral. It’s three,” Willenborg said.
The ride is starting right in town at a place that’s helping out in a big way already: Ping’s Tavern.
“Within two hours, they raised $8,000 for the Kenny Bryan family,” said Julia Henderson, a bartender at the bar.
Alumni bartenders were coming back to raise money for other organizations on Sunday night. But after the accident, they shifted their focus.
“Great people everywhere,” Henderson said. “It’s amazing that we could raise that much money within that little time.”
She knows it was an event that brought people together in a time of need. Brumleve and Willenborg hope their event will do the same while honoring one of their friends.
“Everybody came before Kenny in his eyes,” Brumleve said. “He wanted to make sure everybody was okay and everybody was having a good work day. Everything ran smoothly when Kenny was here.”
The Jeep Ride event is this Saturday, Oct. 7 in Teutopolis. Registration starts at 10:30 a.m. at Ping’s Tavern and the ride begins around 11:30. It will end at American Fiber with music, food and a raffle. For more details, visit the Facebook page.
For other ways to support the family, you can click here for their GoFundMe.