Driver killed when tanker full of hydrochloric acid crashed and overturned

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LaGrange County, IN -The Indiana State Police has concluded its investigation into tanker crash that killed one person on I-80.

According to the Indiana State Police, State Trooper Nikolos Anderson’s preliminary crash investigation revealed that at approximately 8:30pm last night, Omar Pleasont, 35, of Portage, IN was operating a 2020 Freightliner semi-tractor with a bulk liquid tanker eastbound on I-80 near the 129.5mm, LaGrange County.

“For an unknown reason, the semi-tractor drove off the road surface and into the center median.  This action led to the semi-tractor and tanker both rolling over, and causing the tanker to separate from the semi-tractor,” Andserson said. “The overturned tanker came to rest in the median, and the semi-tractor ended up on it’s top in the right eastbound lane.”

The following is the report issued by the ISP:

Law enforcement had been advised prior to arriving on the scene that biohazards were leaking from the tanker. The hazardous material was identified as hydrochloric acid. When Trooper Anderson and a LaGrange County Sheriff’s deputy arrived on the scene, they immediately checked on the driver, but found him to trapped inside the cab and believed to be deceased. Damage to the semi-cab was such that officers could not immediately extricate the driver.

Due to the nature of the chemical spill hazard for hydrochloric acid, response protocol dictated an evacuation of the immediate area until the hazardous material could cleaned up and deemed safe to the public, as well as first responders. This led to both eastbound and westbound lanes of traffic being closed to through traffic.  The evacuation process and chemical spill response was coordinated by the LaGrange County Fire Department, Response Management Services (RMS), and the LaGrange County Emergency Management (EMA).

Once the area was safe for first responders, LaGrange County fire and EMS personnel, and the LaGrange County Coroner were able to then extricate Mr. Pleasont’s body from the wreckage and make positive identification.

Shortly after 2:00am, Response Management Services had the hazardous material cleaned up from the roadway and median.  The overall clean up effort at the crash site continued until approximately 3:00am, at which time traffic was opened back up in both directions.

Notifications have been made to the family.

Trooper Anderson was assisted during this investigation by several ISP Toll Road troopers, the Lagrange County Sheriff’s department, Steuben County Sheriff’s department, Lagrange County Fire and EMS, Angola Fire Department, Response Management Service (HAZMAT),  ITRCC, the Lagrange County Coroner’s office, and Bill’s Towing service.

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