911 calls of Beach Park chemical spill show residents’ frustration, confusion

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BEACH PARK, Ill. — Some Beach Park residents are now worried about the short- and long-term environmental impacts from a chemical spill, which appears to have killed grass, plants and other landscaping.

Resident Lyle Caldera was impacted and nervous about letting his dog go outside. He says his insurance won't take care of the costs of the damage because hazardous gas isn't covered. The EPA has checked his house, and deemed it safe.

The Lake County Health Department and the EPA are testing his well water, too.

Lake County Sheriff's detectives and a team from the National Transportation Safety Board are jointly investigating the leak.

Authorities say a 59-year-old man traveling from a farm in Pleasant Prairie, Wis., was towing two separate two-ton containers of anhydrous ammonia when the spill occurred around 4:30 a.m. Thursday. Initial reports suggested the vehicle was involved in a crash, but the sheriff's office later said that was not the case.

The leak created a toxic cloud that lingered for several hours over Beach Park, about 40 miles north of downtown Chicago. Authorities ordered residents within a one-miles radius to stay inside and close their windows. Area schools were closed for the day.

Seven people remain hospitalized in the ICU as of Friday afternoon.

Also Friday some of the 911 calls from the incident were released.  They paint a vivid picture of the frustration and confusion felt by people who were overcome by the fumes.

Listen to the 911 calls below

Call Files 1: "A big cloud of smoke... there's a guy laying on the ground ... coughing..."

 

Call Files 2: "There's a toxic cloud in the air...makes it almost impossible to breathe."

 

Call Files 3: "I can't see anything! I can't breathe!"

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