Second Body of Three Missing Employees Found at Explosion Scene at AB Specialty Silicones

About 2:30 p.m. Sunday, the search team located a body in a heavily damaged part of the building. It took crews over two hours to remove the victim.

The body of a second person of three missing employees was found by firefighters in the ruins of a silicone chemical factory that exploded Friday May 4, 2019 about 9:30 p.m. Lake County Coroner Dr. Howard Cooper announced the discovery.

A total of four people are believed dead. Three victims were initially reported missing, and one victim died at the Loyola University Medical Center Burn Unit about 12 hours after the explosion at the AB Specialties Silcones building.

Technical Rescue Technicians used cadaver dogs for several hours Sunday, and located the body under debris from the building. The chemical factory, before the destruction from the explosion, had shelves of chemical drums, large vertical tanks, and extensive piping inside the building. All of the interior structures have collapsed or are at risk of further collapse.

Once the second body was discovered, Technical Rescue Technicians worked for about two hours to remove the body after it was discovered.

“This is by no means over until we’ve located all victims.”

— Waukegan Fire Marshal Steven Lenzi

The search for the bodies requires a careful process to avoid a collapse that would endanger Technical Rescue Technicians.

Anthony Madonia, an attorney for AB Specialty Silicones, said one of the men who did not make it out of the plant was one of 20 employees who are partial owners of the AB Specialty Silicones. Madonia also said three people, who did not escape, were actively mixing products at the time of the explosion. The mixing process involved a procedure they’ve done hundreds of times before, according to Madonia. The supervisor has been identified by other employees as Byron Biehn. He is credited with warning people to get out of the building when he noticed something was not right at the site. Two employees escaped without injury.

More than 100 firefighters working for about 30 fire agencies worked late Friday and early Saturday, applying more than 100,000 gallons of water for about 6 hours to extinguish the fire.

Monday Morning Summary After Friday Night Silicone Factory Explosion in Waukegan: 3 Dead, 1 Missing, 3 Hurt


Nine people were inside the plant at the time of the explosion. Two were able to walk away unharmed, but four were hospitalized after transport by firefighter/paramedics Friday night, one patient died Saturday in a hospital burn unit. Allen Stevens, age 29, died in the Loyola University Medical Center Burn Unit 12 hours after the explosion.

One body was recovered by 9:50 a.m. Saturday morning, but firefighters needed to suspend their search for the remaining two victims because of risk of further collapse of the building or internal structures that endangered Technical Rescue Technicians.

The Lake County Coroner’s Office will begin the process of identifying the remains on Monday, saying dental records will likely used to confirm identification.

As of late Sunday, Allen Stevens is the only victim who has been identified by officials.

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency is monitoring air conditions. Sand dikes were put in place to filter out particles in the water before the particles hit sewer drains. There are contaminants in the building, but an evacuation order or shelter in place order has not activated.

The Illinois State Fire Marshal and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are investigating.

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The search for the third missing employee continues this morning beginning at 7:30 a.m.

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