Fourth body found at site of Illinois plant explosion

"We weren't going to leave without getting him back to his family," Lake County Coroner Howard Cooper said of the employee missing since Friday's explosion.
Image: Illinois plant nexplosion
Emergency personnel work at the scene of an explosion at AB Specialty Silicones on May 4, 2019. The explosion happened Friday night.John Starks / Daily Herald via AP

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By Phil Helsel

The body of a worker who had been missing since an explosion rocked an Illinois silicones plant last week has been discovered, authorities said Wednesday.

Three others were killed in Friday’s blast at AB Specialty Silicones in Waukegan, north of Chicago. The body of the fourth employee was discovered Tuesday night, the Lake County coroner told NBC Chicago.

"We weren't going to leave without getting him back to his family," Lake County Coroner Howard Cooper told the station.

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All other employees have been accounted for.

The cause of the explosion, which happened around 9:30 p.m., remains under investigation, but Waukegan Fire Marshal Steve Lenzi has said that there is no evidence of foul play and that it is being considered an accident.

The body found Tuesday was in an area that was more difficult to access, Cooper told NBC Chicago.

"I think this was a sense of relief that he was found and they're going to be able to move on and find closure," Cooper said.

The four people killed were identified by Mac Penman, general manager of AB Specialty Silicones, as: Byron Biehn, 53, second-shift production supervisor and an owner of the company; Jeff Cummings, 57, third-shift production supervisor; Allen Stevens, 29, second-shift chemical operator and also a company owner; and Daniel Nicklas, 24, quality control chemist.

“We have lost our friends and colleagues, and know that their families have lost even more: fathers, grandfathers, husbands, sons, brothers,” Penman said in a statement Wednesday.

There were nine employees in the facility when the explosion occurred, officials have said.