Fourth victim ID’d after Waukegan plant explosion

WAUKEGAN, Ill. — The fourth person who was killed after an explosion Friday at a silicone plant in Waukegan has been identified hours after officials announced they recovered his body Wednesday.

The AB Speciality Silicones plant identified the body as 24-year-old Daniel Nicklas of Beach Park, Ill. He had been with the company for eight months, and was a quality control chemist.

The Lake County Coroner said the remains were found under a lot of rubble late Tuesday night.

Two other people were killed inside the plant. Jeff Cummings, 57, of Kenosha, Wis., was third shift production supervisor who had spent seven years with the company. Byron Biehn, 53, of Brighton Township, Wis., was the second shift production supervisor, was with the company for nine years and was also an owner.

Another person, 29-year-old Allen Stevens of Salem, Wis., made it out of the building, but died later at Loyola Hospital's burn unit. He was the second shift chemical operator, had spent two years with the company and was an owner as well.

Friday’s explosion destroyed the AB Specialty Silicones plant.

The company's general manager, Mac Penman, issued a statement Wednesday saying the company has lost friends and colleagues, and knows that their families have lost even more.

"Since last Friday, our focus has been finding ways to spend time with each other, grieve together, and support each other," the statement said. "The families have asked us to convey their wishes for privacy at this difficult time, but they join us in again expressing gratitude for the incredible efforts of the Waukegan Fire Department and Chief George Bridges, Jr., and the Lake County Coroner’s office and Dr. Howard Cooper."

The company will be holding a memorial service at 10 a.m. Friday at the Waukegan facility. The service will honor the victims as well as first responders.

"When we gathered as a work family earlier this week, we shared stories of our colleagues. We also talked with each other about what the future holds, and have resolved to re-open AB Specialty Silicones," the statement said. "It will be hard work, but if it is possible to re-create the type of place Byron, Jeff, Allen, and Daniel would be proud of, it is a challenge we would all accept."

The company will remain closed until May 13.

Officials said it could take up to a month to pinpoint the cause of the explosion.

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