Sarah Tague Injured In Effingham Chemical Spill Accident

Sarah Tague, 18, of Lake Elmo, Seriously Injured In Effingham Anhydrous Ammonia Chemical Leak After Tanker Truck Accident on U.S. Highway 40

Sarah Tague Injured In Effingham Chemical Spill Accident

EFFINGHAM, ILLINOIS (October 7, 2023) – A Lake Elmo swimmer identified as Sarah Tague was one of several University of Missouri students injured in the Teutopolis ammonia spill.

Effingham County officials are saying that the accident began around 9:25 p.m. on Friday. There was a multi-vehicle collision on U.S. Highway 40 involving a tanker truck.

The truck overturned following the collision and spilled thousands of gallons of toxic anhydrous ammonia gas. Tragically, five people died in the collision.

Sarah Tague was one of 4 members of the Mizzou Club Swim team who were caught up in the horrible aftermath of the collision. The students witnessed the crash and ran in an attempt to flee from the toxic ammonia gas spilling into the air.

As they attempted to escape, many became trapped in ditches by the side of the road. They remain there until they were rescued by EMS.

Three of the students including Sarah Tague were airlifted to the hospital in order to receive treatment. You can help support all of the swimmers through GoFundMe.

You can also support the GoFundMe specifically for Sarah. According to the online fundraiser, “Sarah has been on a ventilator since Friday evening in a Springfield, IL Hospital. She has swelling and irritation to her lungs, throat, skin and eyes. Her friends are experiencing similar issues with their lungs, eyes and skin. It is hard to say how long the recovery will be, but it is certain that it will take time.”

Liability For Effingham County Chemical Spills

Anhydrous ammonia is an incredibly dangerous substance that is used in a wide variety of commercial purposes. According to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, “Anhydrous ammonia (NH3) is an efficient and widely used source of nitrogen fertilizer. It is relatively easy to apply and is readily available to producers. However, if not handled properly NH3 can be dangerous. Anhydrous means “without water”. Because NH3 contains little or no water it aggressively seeks out moisture, be it from soil or your eyes, throat, lungs or skin.” People exposed to anhydrous ammonia tend to suffer very serious injuries including:

  • Caustic burns
  • Frostbite
  • Lung damage
  • Eye damage
  • Cardiac arrest

Depending on the facts of any case, there could be numerous forms of liability for any accident involving a chemical spill. Truck drivers will need to get a commercial license and are held to a high standard in terms of safety. Many truck accidents involve one or more vehicles that are speeding. According to Illinois Vehicle Code 625 ILCS 5/11-601, no person shall operate a motor vehicle at a speed greater than would be reasonable or prudent given the prevailing conditions of the roadway. If a truck driver fails to slow down to avoid a collision, this could form the basis of a negligence claim.

A truck company could also be liable if it failed to follow safety regulations related to transporting hazardous materials. These regulations are laid out in the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act. For example, truck drivers transporting hazardous materials will typically need additional training. These trucks must be clearly marked with hazmat placards on all sides. There are a number of steps that should be taken after any accident involving a truck transporting hazardous materials.

  • Eye witnesses should be interviewed.
  • Medical records should be preserved.
  • Surveillance footage should be sought.
  • The truck driver’s logbook should be reviewed.

Victims of hazmat accidents tend to suffer very serious injuries. Many of these injuries can be neurological and may not manifest for significant periods of time. It is important for accident victims to know that they do have rights. Any person that is injured in a chemical spill accident may have legal recourse through a personal injury claim. Damages in a civil claim can help with many of the unexpected expenses that come with a serious accident.

Investigating Effingham County Chemical Spills

We at Horwitz Horwitz & Associates extend our best wishes to Sarah Tague and all of the other members of Mizzou Club Swim. It is our sincere hope that all of the victims will be able to make a full recovery. Any person that may have more information about what happened should reach out to police.

Have you or someone that you care about been harmed after being exposed to anhydrous ammonia? There are a number of laws designed to protect your rights. Our team of consumer safety advocates are here to help in any way that we can. We care deeply that accident victims get the medical and financial support that they need in order to recover. You can reach out to us anytime at (312) 564-4256.