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Amazon worker killed in warehouse collapse wasn’t allowed to leave when the tornado approached, girlfriend says

December 13, 2021

Six Amazon employees died after an Illinois warehouse collapsed due to a tornado on Friday.

The girlfriend of one of the employees told the New York Post he was told to stay as the tornado approached.Cherie Jones said Larry Virden would have made it home if he left when he wanted to.

An Amazon worker who was killed in the Edwardsville, Illinois, warehouse collapse wasn’t allowed to leave as a tornado was approaching, hisgirlfriend told the New York Post.

Larry Virden, who started working for Amazon five months ago, was among the six employees who died in the destruction, which saw wa giant wall and the roof above it collapse.

His girlfriend, Cherie Jones, told the Post in an article published Sunday that she was texting him shortly before the incident.

“He always tells me when he is filling up the Amazon truck when he is getting ready to go back I was like ‘ OK, I love you.’ He’s like, ‘well Amazon won’t let me leave until after the storm blows over,'” she told the Post.

Jones told the Post that Virden had texted her 16 minutes before the tornado was said to have touched down, leaving him enough time to have gone back to their house in nearby Collinsville, which she said was a 13-minute drive away.

“We heard the tornado didn’t touch down until 8:39 p.m. so he had 20 minutes to get home,” she said.

Jones said Virden sent his text at around 8:23 p.m.

“I messaged him and that was the last text message I got from him,” she told the Post. “I told him where we live, it was only lightning at the time. After that, I got nothing from him.”

Jones told the Post she did not want to blame Amazon for her partner’s death, but that she couldn’t help but wonder whether he would have made it home if his supervisors hadn’t told him to stay.

“It’s that what-if situation: what if they would have let him leave? He could have made it home,” she told the Post.

Multiple tornadoes ripped through Arkansas, Illinois, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Missouri on Friday night, leaving buildings destroyed and dozens of people dead.

Jones told the Post that her children, whom she had with Virden, were not coping well with the loss of their father.

“My oldest boy, he thinks that daddy is going to come home, but now we have to tell him that daddy’s not coming home. When my daughter came into the house, she was like ‘Where’s daddy? Where’s daddy?’ And she started balling because she knew something was wrong,” Jones said.

Amazon did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

In a statement to the Post, Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said: “We’re deeply saddened by the news that members of our Amazon family passed away as a result of the storm in Edwardsville, IL. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their loved ones, and everyone impacted by the tornado.”

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