Three Wisconsin men killed in Waukegan silicone plant explosion; fourth victim missing

Three southern Wisconsin men are among the victims in the Waukegan silicone plant explosion Friday, according to multiple media outlets.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel previously reported Allen Stevens, 29, of Paddock Lake died after paramedics took him to a hospital following the 9:30 p.m. Friday explosion at the AB Specialty Silicones factory.

The Lake County Coroner’s office on Tuesday confirmed that Jeff Cummings, 56, of Kenosha and Byron Biehn, 53, of Union Grove also died in the explosion. A fourth worker whose body hasn’t been recovered is also believed to be dead. Online records indicate that victim is from Illinois. Authorities have not identified the fourth worker.

“We’re getting now to the last areas we need to search,” Waukegan Fire Marshal Stevr Lenzi said about 5 p.m. Tuesday. He said crews would be on scene through the evening searching.

Emergency personnel work at the scene of an explosion at AB Specialty Silicones on Sunset Ave. and Northwestern Ave. on the border between Gurnee, Ill., and Waukegan. The explosion happened Friday night.
John Starks, Associated Press

Cummings was a gentle and kind person, according to a GoFundMe account set up for his family. More than $1,000 was raised for Cummings in the fundraiser’s first eight hours Monday.

“Jeff was not only an amazing husband, father and papa, but an exceptional brother, uncle, son and friend. Words cannot even begin to describe the devastation our family is going through,” the description read.

Biehn’s family released a statement through the law firm of Taxman, Pollock, Murray & Bekkerman. The Arlington Cardinal News reported Biehn was a shift supervisor who helped evacuate the building shortly before the explosion.

“We are heartbroken by this tragedy. Byron was a beloved husband, father, son (in-law), bother (in-law), Godfather, uncle, and friend to many,” the statement read. “We are so very grateful for the outpouring of prayers and support for Byron and our family. We ask that you keep the victims, their families, and the first responders in your prayers”

A GoFundMe page set up for Stevens featured a photo of him with his wife, Jenny. As of late Monday afternoon, more than $22,000 had been raised for his family.

“Allen was not only an exceptional friend, but an exceptional husband, son, brother, uncle, nephew, and cousin. All of the words put together to try and describe the amount of grief this family is experiencing cannot even be fathomed,” according to the GoFundMe page.

Lenzi told the (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald on Monday that managers at the AB Specialty Silicones plant sensed something was wrong and were working to evacuate employees before the blast Friday evening.

Lenzi said crews are working “slowly, methodically and safely” because of the risks and the need to preserve evidence. The cause of the blast hasn’t been determined.

Journal Sentinel reporter Meg Jones and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

RELATED: Wisconsin man killed in silicone factory blast in Illinois

Contact Sophie Carson at (414) 223-5512 or Follow her on Twitter at @SCarson_News.


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