Officials identify driver killed in crash, chemical spill on I-10 in Tucson

Rick Immel, 54, was from Nevada.
A deadly crash on Interstate 10 near Kolb Road lead to a hazmat situation on Tuesday, Feb. 14....
A deadly crash on Interstate 10 near Kolb Road lead to a hazmat situation on Tuesday, Feb. 14. By Wednesday night, the roadway was back open.(Tucson Fire Department)
Published: Feb. 14, 2023 at 3:14 PM MST|Updated: Feb. 16, 2023 at 1:53 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - Officials have identified the driver who died in a crash that resulted in a chemical spill on Interstate 10.

The driver, 54-year-old Rick Immel of Nevada, may have experienced a medical issue before the crash, officials said. Intoxication was not a factor, they said.

Interstate 10, from Kolb to Houghton in Tucson, is open again after being completely closed for more than a day.

Immel was hauling liquid nitric acid for Landstar System, Inc. He was headed to Theodore, Ala.

Arizona DPS said its investigation is ongoing into how the crash happened.

The nitric acid leak caused evacuations for anyone within a half-mile radius of the site. As of 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15, that order was rescinded. A shelter-in-place was also ordered Tuesday, but it was lifted as of 5 p.m. Wednesday.

The Vail School District, which has several schools near the crash site, reopened its facilities Thursday and resumed normal bus service.

The Pima County Health Department told the district that it did not have to clean the schools that are within a mile of the site.

The district said the PCHD said there is no need to “change HVAC filters or clean ductwork” or “clean or wipe down indoor surfaces.”

The district said it would cleaning “exterior surfaces including water fountains” as well as “play equipment at all of the schools in the shelter-in-place radius” prior to reopening.

Vail canceled classes Wednesday but said the day will not need to be made up.

According to the National Library of Medicine, nitric acid is “very toxic by inhalation” and “corrosive to metals or tissue.”

“Prolonged exposure to low concentrations or short-term exposure to high concentrations may result in adverse health effects,” the NLM said on its webpage.

The main uses of the chemical are the production of fertilizers, explosives, and rocket fuel.