Identities of three victims from the AB Specialty Silicones explosion that occurred Friday May 3, 2019 about 9:30 p.m. have now been released by Lake County Coroner Dr. Howard Cooper. One man is still missing in the ruins of the chemical factory, and the search for his body is continuing.
A press conference was held Tuesday at the site of Friday night’s explosion at Sunset Avenue and Northwestern Avenues. Lake County Coroner Dr. Howard Cooper said autopsies were performed on Byron H. Biehn, 53, of Brighton Township and Jeff Cummings, 57, of Kenosha, but a cause of death is pending toxicology reports, according to Dr. Cooper.
Allen Stevens, of Salem, Wisconsin, escaped the building alive, but suffered burn injuries and died at the Burn Unit at the Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois about 12 hours after the explosion.
“We have been in close contact with both families and our deepest condolences go out to them during this difficult time,” he said. “This is truly an awful tragedy of epic proportion.”
— Lake County Coroner Dr. Howard Cooper
Waukegan Fire Chief George Bridges said the missing men helped other employees get out of the building before the explosion.
“They saved the lives of their coworkers. They were the ones who were trying to get everyone out.”
— Waukegan Fire Chief George Bridges
Fire Chief Bridges said the investigation into the cause of the explosion will be a “collaborative effort” involving the Waukegan Fire Department, the Illinois Fire Marshal, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board.
Waukegan Fire Marshal Steve Lenzi noted that more people may have heard the blast west of the scene, and that all types of details will be analyzed.
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The process of identifying the remains of victims of Friday night`s Waukegan silicone plant explosion began Monday. Three people are confirmed dead after the explosion at the AB Specialty Silicones factory.