Skip to Content

Four Mizzou Club Swimmers severely injured in Illinois hazmat spill crash


Four Mizzou Club Swim teammates are recovering in the ICU after the deadly pile-up crash in Illinois over the weekend.

Mizzou Club Swim shared a link to a GoFundMe on Instagram for University of Missouri freshmen Weston Hemmerling, Sarah Tague, Anja Dangelmaier and John Costello. A University of Missouri spokesperson confirmed they are enrolled at MU. The post from Mizzou Club Swim said all four are alive and were admitted to the ICU in severe condition.

A chemical spill from an overturned tanker resulted in five dead from chemical exposure in Illinois on Highway 40 Friday night, according to autopsies conducted Monday.

The tanker veered to its right to avoid crashing with another vehicle trying to pass, causing it to roll on its side and hit the trailer hitch of a parked vehicle resulting in a 6-inch puncture of the container carrying the chemical, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

This puncture caused the tank to spill over half of its 7,500-gallon load of anhydrous ammonia -- a chemical that can burn or corrode organic tissue. Farmers use this chemical to add nitrogen fertilizer to soil. It also acts as a refrigerant in cooling systems of large buildings such as warehouses and factories.

The GoFundMe describes the experience of the four freshmen. Once they witnessed the crash, according to the GoFundMe, the four freshmen ran from their car to get away from the gas.

"As they all ran in different directions they ended up falling into ditches on the side of the road where they remained until being found by EMS. Weston was found by EMS first and rushed to the hospital; before the others were found EMS had to wait for hazmat teams to show as the chemical cloud was too strong and dangerous. Sarah, Anja, and John were then airlifted to the hospital," the GoFundMe reads.

It said they suffered chemical burns to their eyes, skin, throats and lungs.

Dr. Chase Ungs, Emergency Department Medical Director for SSM St. Mary's, said this type of injury is very severe and it may not be possible to fully recover from.

"There is no what we call antidote  for anhydrous ammonia exposure," Dr. Ungs said. "There is no treatment necessarily to reverse the damage that is done. If you would come into the E.R. and had to be in  the hospital, it is 100% just supportive care."

Dr. Ungs said anhydrous ammonia causes severe burns because of the extreme temperatures it's stored in. He advises anyone who sees a crash involving hazardous materials to get as far away as possible.

At the time of publication, the GoFundMe page had raised over $16,000 with a goal of $40,000.

Some other Missourians were identified as victims of the crash in the preliminary investigation. Danny J. Smith, 67, from New Haven, is one of the five who died in the crash. Terrie Tudor, 61, from Union, was flown from the crash scene, according to Illinois emergency response authorities.

Article Topic Follows: University of Missouri

Jump to comments ↓

Author Profile Photo

Hannah Falcon

Hannah joined the ABC 17 News Team from Houston, Texas, in June 2021. She graduated from Texas A&M University. She was editor of her school newspaper and interned with KPRC in Houston. Hannah also spent a semester in Washington, D.C., and loves political reporting.


ABC 17 News is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content