Amazon driver died in rest room sheltering from twister with colleagues By Reuters


© Reuters. The location of a roof collapse at an distribution centre a day after a sequence of tornadoes dealt a blow to a number of U.S. states, in Edwardsville, Illinois, U.S. December 11, 2021. REUTERS/Drone Base


By Richa Naidu

EDWARDSVILLE, Unwell. (Reuters) -Amazon cargo driver Austin J. McEwen, 26, was an solely youngster who cherished to hearken to rapper Mac Miller and hunt along with his mates.

He died attempting to shelter from a strong twister within the rest room at an (NASDAQ:) warehouse on Friday night time, in response to a coworker.

McEwen was considered one of six staff recognized by police on Sunday who had been killed when their plant in Edwardsville, Illinois, buckled beneath the drive of the devastating twister. A swath of tornadoes ripped by way of six U.S. states, leaving a path of loss of life and destruction at properties and companies stretching greater than 200 miles (322 km).

“He was my pal and he did not make it,” mentioned coworker Brian Erdmann, who was on his strategy to make a supply to the warehouse. “If I’d have gotten again 45 minutes earlier, I most likely would have been on the identical place. I’d have been proper there with him.”

The opposite Amazon staff recognized as lifeless by the native coroner had been Deandre S. Morrow, 28, of St. Louis, Missouri; Kevin D. Dickey, 62, of Carlyle, Illinois; Clayton Lynn Cope, 29, of Alton, Illinois; Etheria S. Hebb, 24, of St. Louis, Missouri; and Larry E. Virden, 46, of Collinsville, Illinois.

A number of workers instructed Reuters that that they had been directed to shelter in bogs by Amazon managers after receiving emergency alerts on cellphones from native authorities. The primary warning was issued about 40 minutes earlier than the twister hit, in response to firefighters and the Illinois governor.

Amazon confirmed in an electronic mail that the positioning bought twister warnings by way of varied alerts. “Our workforce labored shortly to make sure as many workers and companions might get to the designated Shelter in Place,” the corporate mentioned in a press release. “We thank them for the whole lot they had been in a position to do.”

Employees gave conflicting accounts as as to whether the toilet was the designated shelter. Amazon didn’t remark.

A few of these staff mentioned that they had saved their telephones in violation of an Amazon coverage that forestalls them from having cellphones at work.

The corporate responded by saying workers and drivers are allowed to have their cellphones.

“I used to be on the finish of my route. I used to be simply getting within the constructing they usually began screaming, ‘Shelter in place!'” mentioned David Kosiak, 26, who has labored on the facility for 3 months. “We had been within the bogs. That is the place they despatched us.”

“It gave the impression of a prepare got here by way of the constructing. The ceiling tiles got here flying down. It very loud. They made us shelter in place til we left – it was not less than two and a half hours in there.”

The Amazon facility was hit about 8:38 p.m. central time by the twister accompanied by 155 mile-per-hour (249 km-per-hour) winds, authorities mentioned. The drive was so extreme that the roof was ripped off and 11-inch (28-cm) thick concrete partitions longer than soccer fields fell on themselves.

Not less than 45 Amazon workers made it out safely. Authorities had given up hope of discovering extra survivors as they shifted from rescue to restoration efforts that had been anticipated to final days.

The corporate has three services in Edwardsville: the supply station hit by the storm in addition to a success heart and a sorting station. The supply station opened in July 2020 to organize orders for last-mile supply to prospects.

Amazon mentioned it was donating $1 million to the Edwardsville Group Basis. The corporate mentioned it’s offering reduction provides in addition to transportation, meals and water.

On Sunday, Amazon staff arrived on the warehouse throughout the road, closely guarded by safety, to start out shifts.

“It is a reminder of the trauma that I simply endured however I will likely be returning to work at Amazon,” mentioned McEwen’s pal and coworker Emily Epperson. “That is my livelihood.”

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