Four freshmen on the University of Missouri club swim team were hospitalized on Friday night after being exposed to a deadly chemical spill on the way back from a meet at Ohio State.
The students were not involved in the semi-tanker crash that caused the cloud of ammonia gas to spread in Effingham County, Illinois, but they witnessed it and immediately ran outside of their car to escape the fumes. According to a GoFundMe set up for the families of the victims, the quartet ran in different directions and ended up falling into ditches on the side of the road.
EMS found Weston Hemmerling first and rushed him to the hospital. The other three swimmers — Sarah Tague, Anja Dangelmaier, and John Costello — were found later as EMS had to wait for hazmat teams to arrive because of the severity of the spill. The trio was airlifted to the hospital, where all four remain in the ICU with chemical burns to their eyes, skin, throat, and lungs.
According to CNN, at least five people were killed in Friday’s crash. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency said that about 4,000 gallons of anhydrous ammonia escaped into the surrounding neighborhood, forcing the evacuation of about 500 people. At least five people were airlifted to local hospitals, according to Teutopolis fire chief Tim McMahon.
The GoFundMe said that any funds raised will be split four ways between the families “to use in ways they best see fit for the situation they are in, whether it be for current needs like hotel expenses and food, or to cover the large hospital bills they will ultimately be left with.”