LAGRANGE — A man from Portage died in a Thursday night toll road accident that happened in LaGrange County.
Indiana State Trooper Nikolos Anderson’s preliminary crash investigation shows that at approximately 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 4, Omar Pleasont, 35, Portage, was operating a 2020 Freightliner semi-tractor with a bulk liquid tanker eastbound on I-80 near the 129.5mm in 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. The overturned tanker came to rest in the median and the semi-tractor ended up on its top in the right eastbound lane.
Law enforcement had been advised prior to arriving on 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 scene, they immediately checked on Pleasont but found him trapped inside the cab and deceased. Damage to the semi-cab was such that officers could not immediately extricate Pleasont from the vehicle.
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 be cleaned up and deemed safe to the public, as well as first responders. This led to both east and west lanes of traffic being closed. The evacuation process and chemical spill response was coordinated by the LaGrange County Fire Department, Response Management Services and the LaGrange County Emergency Management.
Once the area was safe for first responders, LaGrange County fire and EMS personnel and the LaGrange County coroner were able to then extricate Pleasont from the wreckage and make positive identification.
Shortly after 2 a.m. Friday, Feb. 5, 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 about 3 a.m., 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, ITRCC, the LaGrange County Coroner’s Office and Bill’s Towing Service.