‘Not going to be the same:’ Memorial service held for victims of Waukegan plant explosion

WAUKEGAN, Ill. -- One week after a deadly blast at AB Specialty Silicones in Waukegan, Illinois, members of the community gathered at the site to honor the four victims.

One of those that died was rescued from the scene with three others. Three other men were inside the building -- their bodies later recovered.

Memorial for silicone plant explosion victims in Waukegan

Mac Penman, the general manager of AB Specialty Silicones on Wednesday evening released photos of the victims, identified as:

  • Allen Stevens, 29, of Paddock Lake. Allen was the 2nd Shift Chemical Operator, had spent two years with AB Specialty Silicones, and was an owner of the company.
  • Jeff Cummings, 57, of Kenosha. Jeff was the 3rd Shift Production Supervisor, and spent seven years with AB Specialty Silicones.
  • Byron Biehn, 53, of Union Grove. Byron was the 2nd Shift Production Supervisor, had been with AB Specialty Silicones for nine years, and was an owner of the company.
  • Daniel Nicklas, 24, of Beach Park, IL. Daniel was a Quality Control Chemist, and had been with AB Specialty Silicones for eight months.
Allen Stevens, Jeff Cummings, Byron Biehn, Daniel Nicklas -- AB Specialty Silicones victims

Allen Stevens, Jeff Cummings, Byron Biehn, Daniel Nicklas -- AB Specialty Silicones victims

"These guys are like brothers and they are going to be missed. There are going be tears ahead. It's not going be the same," said Pastor David Adams, former coworker.

Pastor David Adams once worked alongside Jeff Cummings and Byron Biehn. At Friday's service, he stood for their families.

"There are few words that sooth the hearts of those who worked besides them," Pastor Adams said.

Words are difficult for most but the grief they share speaks volumes.

"Make sure when you go home tonight, make sure you tell your family you love them," said Aaron Jorge, employee.

Memorial for silicone plant explosion victims in Waukegan

Memorial for silicone plant explosion victims in Waukegan

Lake County Coroner Howard Cooper says the service was about healing but "I cannot lie, it's hard."

While the community grieves, investigators at the local, state, and federal levels will be back to try and determine what happened. They believe the blast was an accident, but an exact cause hasn't been found.

Penman, the plant's general manager, told the crowd Friday, he plans to rebuild a plant that the four men would be proud of.

Memorial for silicone plant explosion victims in Waukegan

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