Tanker crash in Illinois kills 5, forces evacuation due to ammonia leak

Five people -- including a father and his two children -- were killed and five others were seriously injured Friday, Sept. 29, when a tank truck overturned in central Illinois, causing a toxic substance to leak from its cargo and forcing the evacuation of hundreds of area residents, authorities said Saturday.

Illinois State Police said the crash occurred at about 9:25 p.m. on U.S. Highway 40 about half a mile east of Teutopolis, which is located about 4 miles from Effingham. A spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board said preliminary information indicates another vehicle may have been involved in a passing maneuver near the tanker truck. The driver of the truck appears to have reacted by pulling to the right. The tanker truck departed the roadway. After departing the roadway, the truck rolled over, and the cargo tank split open.

The truck was carrying 7,500 gallons of anhydrous ammonia at the time of the accident, of which 4,000 gallons leaked from the tanker. Due to the plume from the ammonia leak, about 500 residents were evacuated from northeastern parts of Teutopolis and U.S. Highway 40 was closed between Effingham and Montrose.  Those who were evacuated were able to return to their homes Saturday evening, Dept. 30.

The five fatalities were caused by inhalation of the anhydrous ammonia fumes.

There was no word on the condition of the truck's driver.

The NTSB continues its investigation of the crash.