ST. CHARLES, MO. - In a follow up now to an exclusive investigation 5 On Your Side brought you last week, we thought we solved the mystery of the black goo on westbound Interstate 70 in St Charles. But nobody knew what the goo was, a tar-like substance that caused thousands of dollars in damage to several cars.
Since then, we've received dozens of emails from others claiming they too drove through a mysterious black substance on the same stretch of interstate. Their cars are damaged too, and they're looking for answers.
"We were in it before we could get out," said Debbie Byrne, who showed us stains on her new Honda Accord.
The black goo covering three lanes of the interstate came from a chemical spill that occurred on westbound Interstate 70 between Cave Springs and Zumbehl last month.
But many of the drivers who contacted us didn't know what they had driven through until they saw Tammy Davis' story.
"It just smeared everywhere and I couldn't see," said Davis last week about her trip down the interstate on July 17. Her vehicle sustained more than $4,000 in damage after being covered in the goo.
"I thought, 'Oh man, that's got to be the stuff because I can't get it off!'" said Joe Wiesler, who contacted 5 On Your Side after seeing Davis' story.
5 On Your Side Investigates traced the origin of that 'stuff' and found it was actually acrylic sealant used in tennis courts. A large barrel of it had fallen off the back of a construction company truck and caused a chemical spill.
"A lot of people out there have their stuff on their cars. A lot of people probably think it's road tar," said Wiesler.
"There was literally no other possible solution about where this would've come from. I never would've thought someone would've spilled something on the highway," said Corey Murphy, who called police shortly after noticing the damage to his car.
Over the past weeks, these motorists tried their own goo-removal techniques. Now, they're using the insurance information we helped dig up from the construction company to hopefully get repairs made on their cars.
But it's not a sure bet for some.
"Guy kinda just laughed at me," said Wiesler.
"[The insurance agent] kept asking, 'Did you make a police report?'. I said, 'No, the police told us to call MoDOT'. We called MoDOT; we made a claim. He kept insisting he needed proof it was from that day," said Byrne.
So, 5 On Your Side has been looking into what you need to do if you drive through a mysterious substance on the highway.
State Farm Insurance agent John Hayden explains.
"Pull off, take pictures, if there are any witnesses that actually saw it at the time, they should also get their phone numbers. You should file a police report because that validates the date and time and the detailed circumstances of what happened," said Hayden.
Highway crashes involving fallen objects happen more than you might think. According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, there were more than 1,300 crashes in 2016 involving vehicles hitting an object in the roadway. Eight of those crashes were fatal.
Wiesler was a trucker for years, and he says the companies responsible can and should face legal consequences.
"That's part of having a Commercial Drivers License, you're responsible for that load. Somebody needs to be paying a big fine for that. You're not even supposed to put a barrel on the end of a truck," said Wiesler.
The construction company that was involved in the spill has been reported to the highway patrol by one of the drivers in our story.
There is a chance that company could face a fine of up to $10,000.
If you were impacted by this chemical spill on westbound Interstate 70, contact 5OnYourSide@KSDK.com.
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