'It could have been me': Waukegan workers honor 4 killed in AB Specialty Silicones explosion

WAUKEGAN, Ill. (WLS) -- More than 100 people gathered outside the wreckage of AB Specialty Silicones Friday afternoon for a memorial service for the four victims killed in last week's explosion.

Byron Biehn, 53, of Union Grove, Wisconsin; Jeff Cummings, 57, of Kenosha, Wisconsin; Daniel Nicklas, 24, of Beach Park, Illinois; and Allen Stevens, 29, of Paddock Lake, Wisconsin, died as a result of the accidental blast at AB Specialty Silicones on May 3.

Four crosses were set up in memory of each victim. There are four hearts, with pictures and bouquets of flowers below. Many members of the community came to pay their respects.

One of the men looking on with disbelief said he, too, could have been one of the victims.

"I overslept by 20 minutes, and that's how I missed the explosion," said Desmond Woods, AB Specialty Silicones employee.

Woods has worked at the Waukegan plant for a year and a half.

"I just thank God. That's it. I can't do nothing but thank God," Woods said. "It definitely could have been me. Definitely could have been me."

A memorial was set up outside the plant in north suburban Waukegan Friday morning.

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A memorial was set up outside AB Specialty Silicones Friday morning in north suburban Waukegan to remember four men killed in a devastating explosion.

Hugs and tears flowed at the memorial. Woods and so many others gave thanks a week after the devastating explosion.

"When this happens, our feet come straight to the ground. It's a reality check. And it leaves us numb," said Pastor David Adams of New Song Church in Zion.

Adams knew and worked with Beihn and Cummings for decades.

"Only time, time and healing, can get us through this," he said.

Co-workers reflected on how employees at the company have become like family over the years, and comforted each other as they looked at where the plant used to stand.

"Seeing people's tears and lives lost, it's heartbreaking," said Dustin Esselman, who works nearby.

But through tragedy comes strength.

"They know you loved them, and you know you loved them. And that's what you've got to count on," Adams said.

The exact cause of the blast is still under investigation.

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