Kentucky governor breaks down as he offers tornado death toll

Kentucky tornado’s youngest victim: Two-month-old girl dies of her injuries two days after her parents strapped her into car seat and huddled in the bathroom as killer twister ripped through the state, killing 64

  • Governor Andy Beshear said Kentucky’s death toll, confirmed at 64, will continue to fluctuate as rescuers search through debris
  • The deceased range in age of five months to 86 years, with 18 people still unidentified
  • A two-month-old baby was also confirmed dead on Monday, however her death does not appear to be reflected in the governor’s toll 
  • While the toll from the deadly storm was lower than he initially feared, the governor said he expects it to increase, possibly to 70 or 80
  • At least 105 people remain unaccounted for
  • He said going door-to-door was out of the question because in the state’s worst-hit areas: ‘There are no doors’ 
  • The tornado, which was part of a raft of tornadoes that tore through six states over the weekend, is believed to be the deadliest in the state’s history 
  • President Joe Biden announced Monday he will be traveling to Kentucky on Wednesday to survey the damage 
  • The president also shared that his ‘heart goes out’ to Beshear who lost several relatives in the disaster

At least 64 people, including two infants, were killed after the deadliest twister in Kentucky’s history rolled through the state on Friday.  

During a press briefing Monday morning, Governor Andy Beshear choked up, confirming that among the dead was a 5-month-old baby and five other children. The ages of the deceased range from five months to 86 years. 

Of the 64 who are confirmed dead, 18 remained unidentified and at least 105 people remain unaccounted for.

‘I’m really sorry,’ Beshear said during a press briefing Monday, addressing those still searching for their loved ones. 

‘You’re not supposed to lose people like this, and to not know and not have the information has got to make it that much harder.’ 

Also Monday, a two-month-old baby who had suffered a stroke, a swollen head and injuries to her neck veins when a tornado struck their family home has died despite her parents efforts to save their children. 

‘At least I know who will be watching over you up there for me. My dad. God this doesn’t seem real,’ parents Doug and Jackie Koon said on Facebook, announcing the passing of their daughter, Oaklynn.

As the storm struck, the Koons huddled with their daughter and two sons in a bathtub, trying their best to protect them. After the twister passed, Doug searched searched for his other family members through the debris and rushed them to the hospital.

‘It’s the most traumatic thing I’ve ever been through,’ he told MSNBC on Sunday as his daughter battled for her life. ‘I felt like I was helpless in protecting my kids against it.’ 

The Koons remained hopeful, reporting on Facebook that Oaklynn’s condition appeared to be improving, before it took a turn for the worst. She passed away Monday morning before the governor updated residents on fatalities, however it does not appear that her death was included in that number. 

While noting the toll from the deadly storm was lower than he initially feared, Beshear said he expects the toll to increase, possibly to 70 or 80 as searchers continue to sift through the rubble. 

He noted that the numbers will continue to fluctuate as officials search and ‘it may be weeks before we have counts on both deaths and levels of destruction.’

‘Sometimes they have, thank god, gone down, other times they’ve gone up,’ he said, adding that ‘undoubtedly, there will be more’ fatalities. 

President Joe Biden announced Monday he will be traveling to Kentucky on Wednesday to survey the damage.

Two-month-old Oaklynn Koon (pictured) died Monday morning after spending two days in the hospital battling injuries sustained during the tornado. Her father, Doug Koon, confirmed her passing on Facebook

Governor Andy Beshear confirmed during a press briefing Monday morning that 64 people were killed, including a five-month-old baby and a five other children, after the deadliest twister in Kentucky’s history rolled through the state on Friday

The state, which has a confirmed death toll of 64, was by far the worst struck on Friday night by 30 tornadoes that ripped across the Midwest, killing another 14 people in Illinois, Tennessee, Arkansas and Missouri (Pictured: Rescuers search for victims while climbing past the collapsed roof of the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory on Dec. 13)

Oaklynn Koon spent two days in the hospital after the tornado tore through her family’s Dawson Springs home on Friday.   

Her parents – Jackie and Doug Koon – said the family ran over to Jackie’s mother’s house, where their eldest son was staying, before the storm hit.

Doug shared how they huddled together in the bathroom with their two sons laying in the bathtub with pillows over them, and Oaklynn strapped into her car seat – figuring that would give her the most protection.

Doug Koon’s 4-year-old son also suffered injuries during the tornado and required a CT scan 

‘Nothing is … scarier than knowing a tornado is heading your way and hearing your kids freaking out, and thinking we are going to die,’ Jackie wrote on Facebook following the ordeal.

When the tornado finally hit her mother’s house in Dawson Springs, Jackie said, ‘We all went flying and ended up on the other side of our neighbor’s house.’

As the storm subsided, Doug told MSNBC he looked up from where he landed and saw his four-year-old son standing there and screaming for ‘daddy.’ The boy had a cut on his head, Doug said, and it was bleeding. 

He said tried to stop the bleeding as he searched for his other family members through the rubble, guided by screaming and moaning – gathering his family back one at a time.   

Doug said he tried to stop everyone’s bleeding and get them to safety before his mother-in-law’s house was completely destroyed, and then rushed his family to the hospital. 

He said his four-year-old son had to have a CT scan to ensure the brain bleed he had does not get worse, and overnight Oaklynn’s, condition worsened.

Jackie Koon posted updates about the family’s survival after a deadly tornado passed through her mother’s house in Dawson Springs, Kentucky, completely destroying the house

The parents announced Oaklynn’s death Monday morning

Jackie posted on Facebook on Sunday that the doctors at the local hospital ran some tests on Oaklynn and ‘they think she has injured her neck veins, which may have caused her to have a stroke.’ 

Doug said ‘machines were keeping her alive’ and that her ‘head swelled really bad’.  

She was being incubated and transferred to another hospital. 

‘Hold your loved ones tight,’ Jackie wrote. ‘I never imagined having to go [through] something like this in life.’ 

As on Monday morning, she had succumbed to her injuries. 

‘I’ve gotten so much love for my family. Donations, prayers, call, texts. We love you guys. It really does take a village,’ the family wrote on Facebook. ‘Wish I was saying better news and I really thought this was by far of what the outcome was going to be. I’m in shock, my heart feels absolutely shattered.’

Doug Koon (pictured) spoke to MSNBC on Sunday about having to find his children in the rubble after they were swept away in the storm. His two-month-old daughter Oaklynn succumbed to her injuries on Monday morning

While the toll from the deadly storm was lower than he initially feared, the governor said he expects the toll to increase, possibly to 70 or 80 as searchers continue to sift through the rubble (Pictured: An attorney searches through the debris of his Mayfield office on Dec. 13)

Of the confirmed dead, 18 remain unidentified, according to the governor (Pictured: Debris in Mayfield on Dec. 13)

The governor said it ‘may be weeks before we have counts on both deaths and levels of destruction’ in Kentucky (The First Christian Church is pictured on Dec. 13)

President Joe Biden announced Monday he will be traveling to Kentucky on Wednesday to survey the damage. He said: ‘We’re going to get this done. We’re going to be there as long as it takes to help’

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden will visit Ft. Campbell, Kentucky for a briefing on the disaster response operations and then head to hard-hit Mayfield and Dawson Springs to view the damage and debris.

The president has already signed an emergency declaration for Kentucky and has ordered his administration to make every resource available to officials in all six states impacted by the storms. 

‘We’re going to get this done,’ Biden said Monday. ‘We’re going to be there as long as it takes to help.’  

Biden also issued his condolences to Beshear, who lost relatives in the disaster, saying his ‘heart goes out’ to the governor and his loved ones. 

During an interview Sunday on CBS Face the Nation, Beshear shared that he, like many of his constituents, were struggling with heartbreak and loss resulting from the tornado.

‘I’m still emotional after a couple of days,’ he explained. ‘Just learned that my uncle lost a couple cousins in Muhlenberg County.’ 

Despite the pain, Beshear said Kentuckians are ‘tough people’ who will make it persevere and rebuild.

‘We’re going to get through it,’ he stated. ‘But it is not going to be easy.’

The tornado that struck Kentucky was part of a raft of tornadoes that tore through six states over the weekend (Pictured: A damaged home in Mayfield, Kentucky on Dec. 13)

The storm destroyed a Kentucky candle factory, homes, and numerous police and fire stations (Pictured: Resident Jeremiah Barker stands by his destroyed car on Dec. 13 while looking out at the pile of debris where his Mayfield home once stood)

Christmas decorations are seen on Dec. 13 hanging from a shattered glass window following a tornado three days prior

The tornado, which was part of a raft of tornadoes that tore through six states over the weekend, destroyed a Kentucky candle factory, homes, and numerous police and fire stations. 

Rescuers are trying to locate the missing, however Beshear said going door-to-door was out of the question because in the Bluegrass State’s hardest-hit areas: ‘There are no doors.’  

‘I’ve got towns that are gone, that are just, I mean gone. My dad’s hometown – half of it isn’t standing,’ Beshear said of Dawson Springs.

The state, which has a confirmed death toll of 64, was by far the worst struck on Friday night by 30 tornadoes that ripped across the Midwest, killing another 14 people in Illinois, Tennessee, Arkansas and Missouri.

One twister carved a track that could rival the longest on record, as the stormfront smashed apart a candle factory in Kentucky, crushed a nursing home in Arkansas and flattened an Amazon distribution center in Illinois. 

The tornado, which was part of a raft of tornadoes that tore through six states over the weekend, destroyed a Kentucky candle factory, homes, and numerous police and fire stations (Pictured: Debris in Mayfield, Kentucky as seen on Dec. 13)

A volunteer in Mayfield, Kentucky prepares to use a chainsaw to clear debris on Dec. 13 after a deadly tornado struck on Friday

Rescuers are trying to locate the at least 105 people who remain missing (Pictured: Dawson Springs, Kentucky resident Laura Croft searches through debris on Dec. 13 near the location where her mother and aunt were found deceased)

At least eight people were killed in the candle factory in Mayfield, a town of about 10,000 in the southwestern corner of Kentucky, when the tornado rampaged through the small town, bringing the walls crashing down and tearing the roof off. Another eight workers are still missing.

Mayfield Mayor Kathy Stewart O’Nan, talking to CBS Mornings, said: ‘This is a tough morning … but it’s OK, we’re still going to be all right.’

She said survivors are facing below freezing conditions on Monday without any utilities.

‘Our infrastructure is so damaged. We have no running water. Our water tower was lost. Our wastewater management was lost, and there’s no natural gas to the city. So we have nothing to rely on there,’ she said,

‘So that is purely survival at this point for so many of our people.’

Across the state, approximately 26,000 residents were without electricity, according to a Monday tally from poweroutage.us. An estimated 60% of outages were reported in Graves County where the city of Mayfield is located. 

Volunteers stand near donated supplies at Redemption City Church on Dec. 13 after tornadoes ripped through several U.S. states in downtown Dawson Springs, Kentucky

Mayfield residents are pictured on Dec. 12 sitting in front of what was their home before it was destroyed by a tornado

Displaced resident Tamara Yekinni hugs a friend outside a shelter in Wingo, Kentucky on Dec. 12

Up to 70 of the 110 people working in Mayfield’s candle factory had been feared dead. However, a company spokesman on Sunday said there were 16 fatalities at most, explaining that eight workers at the site were confirmed dead and eight were missing.

‘There were some early reports that as many as 70 could be dead in the factory. One is too many, but we thank God that the number is turning out to be far, far fewer,’ said Bob Ferguson, a spokesperson for Mayfield Consumer Products LLC.

On Sunday, Kyanna Parsons-Perez – who was among the 110 employees working the night shift during the busy Christmas rush – told NBC that ‘everything happened so fast’.

‘They had us in the area where you go in case there’s a storm, and we were all there and then the lights got to flickering and all of a sudden we felt a gust of [wind], we could feel the wind and then my ears kind of started popping as they would as if you were on a plane.’ 

After they were rocked by the winds, Parsons-Perez said ‘everything came down on us.’ After that, she said, ‘all you heard was screams.’  

In further developments:

  • Six Amazon workers, including a Navy veteran, were killed when the storm struck a warehouse in Illinois;
  • Kentucky District Judge Brian Crick, 43, a married father of three, was among those killed in the storm;
  • A three-year-old boy is believed to be the youngest victim after his home in Mayfield was destroyed; 
  • And a top US emergency management official said the tornadoes were a ‘new normal’ due to climate change.


Mayfield candle factory workers: Dakota, left with girlfriend Brandy, called her to say he thought he was going to die. His colleague Kyanna Parsons-Perez said that after the storm struck ‘all you heard was screams’

CANDLE FACTORY, MAYFIELD, KENTUCKY: Recovery crews work at the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory where 110 were working when the tornado struck. Only 40 of the workers were rescued alive

CANDLE FACTORY, MAYFIELD, KENTUCKY: Search are rescue crews work at the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory Sunday morning. Rescuers describe crawling over the bodies of the dead to reach survivors

One of Friday’s tornadoes is believed to have remained on the ground for 227 miles, a world record. Kentucky bore the brunt of the destruction, and the storm is now the deadliest tornado strike in the state’s history

Six Amazon workers killed after Illinois tornado destroyed warehouse – including Navy vet who died trying to save colleagues – while Jeff Bezos threw weekend PARTY in Beverly Hills 

Six Amazon workers were killed after a tornado struck a warehouse in Illinois on Friday night.

Meanwhile, photos reviewed by DailyMail.com suggest a lavish party was thrown at Jeff Bezos’ Beverly Hills mansion this weekend in the aftermath of the tragedy.

Navy veteran Clayton Cope, 29, was among the dead after a series of tornadoes roared through the facility near St. Louis, ripping off its roof and causing 11-inch thick concrete walls longer than football fields to collapse on themselves.

His sister Rachel Cope said she’s angry that Amazon didn’t allow its workers to go to an emergency shelter after the first siren sounded.  



Clayton Cope, a US Navy veteran, was among those killed in the disaster



The Amazon workers killed include Clayton Cope (top left), Etheria S. Hebb (top center), Kevin Dickey (top right), Deandre S. Morrow (bottom left) and Larry Virden (bottom middle) and Austin J. McEwan (bottom right)

‘I’d want people to know that he died saving the lives of people in that building because of Amazon’s negligence to take the tornado sirens seriously and choosing the productivity of their company over their employees,’ Cope told DailyMail.com. 

‘My brother is a hero.’  

Amazon cargo driver Austin J. McEwen, 26, was also killed while trying to shelter during the tornado.

Other Amazon workers identified as dead by the local coroner were Deandre ‘Shawn’ Morrow, 28, of St. Louis, Missouri; Kevin D. Dickey, 62, of Carlyle, Illinois; Etheria S. Hebb, 24, of St. Louis, Missouri; and Larry E. Virden, 46, of Collinsville, Illinois.     

Meantime, several warehouse employees said they’re worried Amazon’s controversial cell phone ban, which was temporarily lifted during the pandemic, would jeopardize safety.

Their fears were amplified after a tornado killed the Edwardsville workers.

Blue collar workers said in the aftermath of the disaster that they’re worried reinforcing the cell phone ban would prohibit them from checking weather alerts or calling for help during emergencies.

‘After these deaths, there is no way in hell I am relying on Amazon to keep me safe,’ one person, who works at an Amazon facility in Illinois, told Bloomberg.  ‘If they institute the no cell phone policy, I am resigning.’

Another worker said she wasn’t willing to lock away her cell phone while on the clock either. 

‘I don’t trust them with my safety to be quite frank,’ she told the outlet. ‘If there’s severe weather on the way, I think I should be able to make my own decision about safety.’ 

Moments before he died, Cope was on the phone with his dad, telling him he needed to go warn his colleagues that were returning to the warehouse to get shelter, his sister said.

‘And that’s when the building collapsed,’ she said. 

His sister expressed her fury with Amazon on a public Facebook post as well, where she demanded answers for the tragedy.

‘Everyone knows that all Amazon cares about is productivity,’ she said. ‘My brother never would have died if this company actually gave 2 sh*** about their employees and got them to safety after the storm started to get bad and took it seriously.

‘This never would have happened if they cared about lives over productivity and you all know that.’ 

Fellow employee Dakota called his girlfriend to tell her he loved her, believing that he was going to die in the chaos.

‘I wasn’t able to get a hold of him,’ Brandy told ABC. ‘You know, so I started panicking and then a while later he called me and he said that he’s trapped under all the debris and he can’t see nothing, he wasn’t sure if anyone was going to be able to find him.’

‘I could hear people screaming left and right, and I got scared because he called me and said ‘I love you, tell mom I love her. I’m sorry, I tried.’ 

‘In that moment I collapsed because I thought he was going to die, I thought my worst nightmare was coming true, and I didn’t her from him for hours.

‘I felt like my whole world had ended, I felt like I was moving in slow motion, not knowing anything, and then when he called me when he got out of the rubble, it was just instant relief.’

But Dakota said he could not immediately come home, as he helped get others out of the rubble. ‘After we got out we started pulling the rest of the team out, and then we were able to get first responders,’ he said. 

‘I found people with broken legs, pulling them out, some were nonresponsive,’ he recounted. ‘It was rough.’ 

More than 100 people were working at the factory when the storm hit, but only 40 of them were rescued and alive as of Sunday, including Chesa Logue, who told USA Today she had restarted working at the candle factory two weeks before the storm hit.

She said the managers lined people up in a restroom and under shelter, where they stayed for 15 minutes before ‘the building lifted up and it swayed’ before it crashed down.

‘All you could hear was the screams of the people,’ she said.

Her head was protected in a five-gallon bucket of chemicals, she said, and the woman on top of her ‘managed to get herself loose and out from in between the walls.

‘And I just jerked my head out from in between the bucket and the wall and got out.’

She said she doesn’t remember how exactly she managed to escape the destruction, telling USA Today: ‘By the grace of God, I got out of there.’

Lora Capps was also on her tenth day at the job at the candle factory on Friday.

She told ABC News she and a janitor took shelter in a bathroom and they fell in a hole in the ground, under the debris. ‘He kept saying ‘I can’t breathe,’ and I said, ‘I’m trying,” she recounted of her last few moments with the janitor.

‘I just want his family to know I tried my best. I said ‘Just go be with God, and I’ll probably be following you.’

But Capps did not die – instead she was found by three men with a flashlight, who helped her to safety and reunited her with her son.

‘This is going to traumatize me for the rest of my life,’ Capps said.

Factory owner Mayfield Consumer Products was a major employer in the town of 10,000. A family-owned business founded in 1998, it had recently been hiring — a rarity in an America where small manufacturers more often lose out to international competitors.

‘Our Mayfield, Kentucky facility was destroyed December 10, 2021, by a tornado, and tragically employees were killed and injured,’ CEO Troy Propes said in a message on the company website.

‘Our employees, some who have worked with us for many years, are cherished.’

The factory also employed trusted inmates from a local prison and had been operating in shifts around the clock to meet high demand in the busy Christmas season.

A group of prisoners were seen helping some of the victims get free from the rubble in the aftermath of the storm.   

Kentucky State Trooper Sarah Burgess said on Sunday rescue crews were using heavy equipment to remove rubble at the candle factory. Coroners were called to the scene and bodies were recovered, but she didn’t know how many.

Rescue efforts were complicated because Mayfield’s main fire station and emergency services hub were also hit by the tornado. 

Not everyone was fortunate to survive the deadly storm, which Gov. Andy Beshar said was the deadliest tornado in Kentucky’s history.

The multi-state toll stands at more than 90 and is expected to rise as recovery efforts continue.

That shatters the prior record for the deadliest tornado in Kentucky history, set in 1890 when a twister killed 76 in the Louisville area, according to National Weather Service records.    

‘[The death toll] is going to exceed more than 100. This is the deadliest tornado event we’ve ever had,’ Beshear told CNN, adding that in the town Dawson Springs alone, the list of the missing is eight pages long, single-spaced.

‘I’ve got towns that are gone – that are just, I mean, gone,’ he said. ‘You go door-to-door to check on people and see if they’re okay. There are no doors. The question is, is there somebody in the rubble of thousands upon thousands of structures. I mean, it’s devastating.’  

Rescuers sifting through debris in Mayfield, Kentucky on Dec. 12

Neighbors collect goods for distribution to those in need after a tornado destroyed homes and businesses in Mayfield, Kentucky on Dec. 12

Forklift operator Mark Saxton, left, survived the tornado at the factory. His nearby home (above) had its roof pulled off and its walls devastated during the tornado

Autumn Kirks (right) says she glanced away from her boyfriend, fellow factory worker Lannis Ward (left), but when she looked back, he was gone

Kentucky District Judge Brian Crick, a married father of three, was among those killed in the storm

One twister carved a track that could rival the longest on record, as the stormfront smashed apart a candle factory in Kentucky, crushed a nursing home in Arkansas and flattened an Amazon distribution center in Illinois.

Beshear said that one tornado was on the ground for 227 miles, 200 of which were in Kentucky, which would break the prior global tornado-track record of 219 miles. 

The death toll across five states also includes six people in Illinois, where an Amazon facility was hit; four in Tennessee; two in Arkansas, where a nursing home was destroyed; and two in Missouri. 

Among the dead is Kentucky District Judge Brian Crick, 43, a married father of three who served McLean and Muhlenberg counties, was among those killed in the storm, the commonwealth’s Supreme Court chief justice confirmed. 

Kentucky residents, many without power, water or even a roof over their heads, worked on Sunday to salvage what they could in towns that had been all but destroyed.

And in a telegram on Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin offered ‘sincere condolences’ to his US counterpart Joe Biden, despite rising tensions over the Russian military buildup at the Ukrainian border. 

Local residents Darlene Easterwood and Tim Evans embrace after taking part in an outdoor Sunday service with members of First Christian Church and First Presbyterian Church in the aftermath of a tornado in Mayfield, Kentucky

Workers remove a sign from a destroyed business in aftermath of a tornado in Mayfield, Kentucky on Sunday

First Presbyterian Church was left mostly destroyed in the center of Mayfield in tornadoes that killed scores of Kentuckians

People embrace on Sunday as tornado damage is seen in Mayfield, Kentucky after extreme storms struck, leaving more than 80 people dead Saturday in the state

In Earlington, Kentucky the powerful winds derailed a freight train, tossing the heavy cars like a child’s playthings

Dena Ausdorn stands at the remains of her home after a tornado leveled the town of Dawson Springs, Kentucky. Ausdorn has lived there for 28 years and lost two of her dogs with another left paralyzed after the tornado

As the sun rose on Sunday morning, survivors in Mayfield picked through the rubble to salvage anything they could


The Mayfield courthouse is seen before and after the powerful storm, which ripped off the clock tower and second floor

The historic nature of the storm has led some to blame climate change, including Biden and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell.

‘The effects we are seeing of climate change are the crisis of our generation,’ Criswell told CNN on Sunday morning. ‘This is going to be our new normal.’

Warm weather driven by a La Nina pattern was a crucial ingredient in this tornado outbreak, but whether climate change is a factor is not quite as clear, meteorologists say.  

Since late Friday, rescue workers have been desperately searching through the tangle of debris that is all that remains of the factory, where fallen girders and twisted sheet metal are piled high.

They have been seen removing corpses, while advancing gingerly through the wreckage with heavy equipment. Specially trained dogs sniff the debris to find anyone — dead or alive — still buried. 

Meanwhile, Western Kentucky University, which previously said that a student had been killed, amended their statement to confirm that a close relative of a graduating senior had died.

The school’s graduation ceremony, set for Saturday, has been cancelled and the school still has no electricity amid widespread power outages. 

Timothy McDill, 48, tears up on Sunday as he recounts the story of surviving the tornado in Mayfield, Kentucky 

The night of the storm, McDill (above) tied himself, his wife, his two grandkids, 14 and 12, their two Chihuahuas and a cat to a drainpipe in their basement using a flagpole rope and waited for it to be over

Tornado damage is seen Sunday in Mayfield after extreme weather hit the region on Friday night. Dozens of devastating tornadoes roared through five US states overnight, leaving more than 80 people dead

Bogdan Gaicki surveys tornado damage Sunday in Mayfield, Kentucky after extreme weather hit the region, leaving more than 80 people dead in the deadliest storm in Kentucky history

Kentucky residents, many without power, water or even a roof over their heads, worked on Sunday to salvage what they could in towns that had been all but destroyed

People walk amongst damage caused by tornados in Mayfield, Kentucky on Sunday as survivors picked through the wreckage

 Elsewhere, at least six people were killed in the collapse of the Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois, with another injured worker airlifted to a hospital, fire Chief James Whiteford said.

One of the victims was Larry Virden, 46, who died when the roof came down at the massive facility. He had been working at Amazon for five months, and his girlfriend of 13 years, Cherie Jones, told the New York Post the company ordered him to hold off on driving until after the storm passed.

‘I got text messages from him,’ she said. ‘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 the storm blows over.’

Jones said the text was sent around 8.23pm, 16 minutes before the tornado touched down at 8.39pm.

The couple lived in nearby Collinsville, which Jones said is about 13 minutes from the warehouse.

‘We heard the tornado didn’t touch down until 8.39, so he had 20 minutes to get home,’ she said. ‘I messaged him and that was the last text message I got from him.

‘I told him where we live, it was only lightning at the time. After that, I got nothing from him.’

Residents begin the recovery process on Dec. 13 after a tornado caused widespread destruction of homes and businesses in Mayfield, Kentucky

In this aerial photo, a collapsed candle factory is seen with workers searching for survivors Sunday in Mayfield, Kentucky

A general view of residents combing through damage and debris in Mayfield, Kentucky on Dec. 13 after a devastating outbreak of tornadoes ripped across the town

A general view of a hallway inside a nursing home in Mayfield, Kentucky is seen Sunday after a tornado strike

Destroyed homes and debris are seen in a heavily damaged neighborhood at dawn in Dawson Springs, Kentucky

The remains of Dawson Springs Primitive Baptist Church after a tornado in Dawson Springs on Sunday. A monstrous tornado, carving a track that could rival the longest on record, ripped across the middle of the U.S. on Friday

Decimated homes are seen in Mayfield, Kentucky on Sunday following the deadliest tornado in Kentucky’s history

When asked whether she blamed Amazon for Virden’s death, she said: ‘Not really, but it’s that what-if situation: What if they would have let him leave? He cold have made it home.’

She noted that Virden ‘made peace with his Maker’ when he served in the US Army in Iraq, ‘so he was prepared to die. But we didn’t want him to die now.’

Jones said their three children are now having difficulty understanding why their father is not returning home. 

On Sunday, investigators searched the rubble throughout the day for additional victims and 45 people survived, Chief Whiteford said. Authorities were uncertain Saturday evening whether anyone was still unaccounted because workers were in the midst of a shift change when it was struck by the tornado about 8:30 p.m. Friday.

‘This is a devastating tragedy for our Amazon family and our focus is on supporting our employees and partners,’ Amazon spokesperson Richard Rocha said in a written statement. 

In Earlington, Kentucky the powerful winds derailed a freight train, sending one car flying 75 yards from the tracks

People work at the scene of a train derailment in Earlington after a devastating outbreak of tornadoes

Workers say it will take some time to clear the tracks after the powerful winds ripped a freight train off the tracks

In Earlington, Kentucky the powerful winds also derailed a freight train, sending one car flying 75 yards from the tracks.

Photos show that two cars separated entirely from the train near Highway 41, with much of the rest of the train tipped on its side. 

‘They say it sounds like a train. It’s a lot worse than a train,’ Jesse Johnson, who was at the center of the tornado in Earlington, told WFIE-TV. 

In one astonishing example of the twister’s fearsome whim, an old family photo was carried more than 130 miles before it was recovered intact and reunited with its owner.

Katie Posten, of New Albany, Indiana, wrote on Facebook that she was walking out to her car when she discovered the photo from the 1940s stuck to her windshield. 

‘The tornado that ripped through Kentucky last night seems to have dissipated just a bit southwest of us, and it’s said to have carried debris up into the sky up to seven miles or more, so no doubt that it came from a home in the path of destruction,’ Posten wrote in a public appeal searching for the photo’s owner.

Incredibly, thanks to the inscription on the back, Posten was able to reunite the photo with the Swatzell family in Dawson Springs, Kentucky. 

It was a rare moment of hope amid countless tales of tragedy, particularly in Mayfield, where entire blocks were flattened, houses and buildings ripped apart, leaving twisted metal, shattered tree limbs and bricks scattered across streets. 

That included the city’s courthouse, whose clock tower was completely torn off by the tornadoes. The historic landmark dates to the 19th century.  


Katie Posten, of New Albany, Indiana, found a family photo on her windshield and was able to locate the Kentucky family it belonged to, 130 miles away, through a public appeal on Facebook

In this aerial view, homes and businesses are destroyed on Saturday after a tornado ripped through town the previous evening in Mayfield, Kentucky. Multiple tornadoes touched down in several Midwest states

People retrieve merchandise from a Mayfield store after a devastating outbreak of tornadoes


Satellite images show shows homes and buildings in Mayfield before and after a devastating twister

A general view of damage and debris after a devastating outbreak of tornadoes ripped through several U.S. states, in Mayfield, Kentucky on Sunday

Emmanuel Baptist Church is seen in the aftermath of the tornadoes on Friday in Mayfield, Kentucky on Saturday morning

A resident of the The Cardinal Inn in Bowling Green, Kentucky, looks at the damages done after a tornado touched down

At least two were dead and many people were trapped after a roof partially collapsed at this Amazon warehouse after a tornado passed through Edwardsville, Illinois

If early reports are confirmed, the twister ‘will likely go down perhaps as one of the longest track violent tornadoes in United States history,’ said Victor Gensini, a researcher on extreme weather at Northern Illinois University.

The longest tornado on record, in March 1925, tracked for about 220 miles through Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. But Gensini said this twister may have touched down for nearly 250 miles. The storm was all the more remarkable because it came in December, when normally colder weather limits tornadoes, he said.

Debris from destroyed buildings and shredded trees covered the ground in Mayfield, a city of about 10,000 in western Kentucky. Twisted metal sheeting, downed power lines and wrecked vehicles lined the streets. Windows and roofs were blown off the buildings that were still standing.

The missing at the candle factory included Janine Denise Johnson Williams, a 50-year-old mother of four whose family members kept vigil at the site Saturday.

‘It´s Christmastime and she works at a place that´s making candles for gifts,’ her brother, Darryl Williams, said. ‘To give up the gift of life to make a gift. We haven´t heard anything, and I´m not presuming anything. But I´m expecting for the worst.’

He said Johnson Williams called her husband overnight to report the weather was getting bad, the last time anyone heard from her.

Search and rescue crews work through the night at the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory early Sunday in Mayfield

Emergency response workers dig through the rubble of the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory in Mayfield on Saturday. Only 40 out of the 110 workers in the factory have been rescued alive

Emergency workers transport a tornado victim in a body bag at the Mayfield Consumer Products Candle Factory on Saturday

After a wall at a nursing home in Mayfield collapsed, Vernon Evans said he rushed to help firefighters pull people out, only to find one resident lying dead in a few inches of water.

‘All I could do is sit there and hold their head up,’ he said. ‘I never experienced nothing like this.’

President Joe Biden approved an emergency disaster declaration for Kentucky on Saturday and pledged to support the affected states.

‘I promise you, whatever is needed – whatever is needed – the federal government is going to find a way to provide it,’ Biden said.

The Commonwealth of Kentucky has established a tornado relief fund to directly assist those impacted by the storm system, donations can be made at: TeamWKYReliefFund.ky.gov 

Sister of 29-year-old Navy vet who died alongside five colleagues when tornado struck Amazon warehouse claims the company didn’t let staff go into emergency shelter when first siren sounded 

The sister of a Navy veteran who was killed alongside five colleagues after a tornado destroyed an Amazon warehouse in Illinois is slamming the online retail giant for choosing company productivity over employee safety. 

Rachel Cope – whose older brother, Clayton Cope, 29, was among those killed when a series of twisters roared through the warehouse near St. Louis – said she’s angry that Amazon didn’t allow its workers to go to an emergency shelter after the first siren sounded. 

‘I’d want people to know that he died saving the lives of people in that building because of Amazon’s negligence to take the tornado sirens seriously and choosing the productivity of their company over their employees,’ Cope told DailyMail.com. 

‘My brother is a hero.’  

Clayton, who lived in nearby Alton, Illinois, had been working at Amazon for more than a year before he died.

He joined the Navy after graduating high school, and was an avid outdoorsman who enjoyed riding motorcycles and playing video games. 

 Clayton Cope, 29, (pictured) was among those killed when a series of twisters roared through the warehouse near St. Louis

Clayton’s sister, Rachel Cope (pictured), said she’s angry that Amazon didn’t allow its workers to go to an emergency shelter after the first siren sounded

Rachel says Clayton had a special place in his heart for his dog, Draco, and that he cared about everyone.

‘He would go out of his way for anyone,’ Cope told the Associated Press in a statement.  

Five other workers died at the facility after tornados ripped off its roof, causing 11-inch thick concrete walls longer than football fields to collapse.

Amazon cargo driver Austin J. McEwen, 26, was killed while trying to shelter during the tornado.

Other Amazon workers identified as dead by the local coroner were Deandre ‘Shawn’ Morrow, 28, of St. Louis, Missouri; Kevin D. Dickey, 62, of Carlyle, Illinois; Etheria S. Hebb, 24, of St. Louis, Missouri; and Larry E. Virden, 46, of Collinsville, Illinois.      

Meanwhile, photos reviewed by DailyMail.com suggest a lavish party was thrown at Jeff Bezos’ Beverly Hills mansion this weekend in the aftermath of the tragedy. 


Clayton Cope, a US Navy veteran, was among those killed in the disaster



The Amazon workers killed include Etheria S. Hebb (top left), Kevin Dickey (top right), Deandre S. Morrow (bottom left) and Larry Virden (bottom middle) and Austin J. McEwan (bottom right)

Dozens of devastating tornadoes roared through five US states overnight, leaving more than 80 people dead Saturday (Pictured: Tornado damage in Mayfield, Kentucky on Dec. 12) 

Several warehouse employees have said they’re worried Amazon’s controversial cell phone ban, which was temporarily lifted during the pandemic, would jeopardize safety.

Their fears were amplified after a tornado killed the Edwardsville workers.

Blue collar workers said in the aftermath of the disaster that they’re worried reinforcing the cell phone ban would prohibit them from checking weather alerts or calling for help during emergencies.

‘After these deaths, there is no way in hell I am relying on Amazon to keep me safe,’ a person who works at an Amazon facility in Illinois told Bloomberg.  ‘If they institute the no cell phone policy, I am resigning.’

Another worker said she wasn’t willing to lock away her cell phone while on the clock either. 

‘I don’t trust them with my safety to be quite frank,’ she told the outlet. ‘If there’s severe weather on the way, I think I should be able to make my own decision about safety.’ 

Cope is being called a ‘hero’ for trying to warn his colleagues about the storm before he was killed when the Amazon warehouse building collapsed

‘He would  go out of his way for anyone,’ Rachel Cope said of her brother Clayton (pictured)

Moments before he died, Cope was on the phone with his dad, telling him he needed to go warn his colleagues that were returning to the warehouse to get shelter, his sister said.

‘And that’s when the building collapsed,’ she said. 

His sister expressed her fury with Amazon on a public Facebook post as well, where she demanded answers for the tragedy.

‘Everyone knows that all Amazon cares about is productivity,’ she said. ‘My brother never would have died if this company actually gave 2 sh*** about their employees and got them to safety after the storm started to get bad and took it seriously.

‘This never would have happened if they cared about lives over productivity and you all know that.’

She described her brother as a ‘dog dad’ who enjoyed spending time with his friends, playing video games, and riding his Harley.

‘He would go out of his way for anyone,’ she said.

Cope’s sister expressed her fury with Amazon on a public Facebook post, where she demanded answers for the tragedy.

Siera Williams, a family friend of Hebb, said she was still struggling to fathom the tragedy that left her circle of friends shattered.

‘You’ve always been a beautiful soul to me,’ Williams said in a Facebook tribute. ‘Your smile lights up any room. Watch over us sleeping beauty.’

Hebb was the mother of a baby boy, her friends said. 

Dallas Feltman, a friend of McEwan, mourned the loss of on Facebook, saying he’ll cherish the memories they made together.

‘I’ll never forget your voice, your smile, or your love,’ he wrote. ‘I can only say this about a few, but I know he would of done absolutely anything for me and so many others. The brightness you brought upon our peers & the shine in your laughter will stay with us for the rest of our lives.  

McEwen, 26, died trying to shelter in a bathroom at the warehouse.

‘He was my friend and he didn’t make it,’ coworker Brian Erdmann, who was on his way to make a delivery to the warehouse during the storm, told Reuters.

‘If I would have got back 45 minutes earlier, I probably would have been at the same place. I would have been right there with him.’ 

Several employees claimed they were directed by their managers to shelter in bathrooms. 

Kevin Dickey (pictured) was a dispatcher at the warehouse and a joy to work with. His family said he was kind, caring and ‘had a great bond with meany’

Amazon said employees were directed to shelter in place at a designated assembly area at the front of the building, which was near a restroom. 

‘Our team worked quickly to ensure as many employees and partners could get to the designated Shelter in Place,’ Amazon said in a statement. ‘We thank them for everything they were able to do.’ 

Loved ones said McEwan was an only child who loved to listen to rapper Mac Miller and hunt with his friends. 

Kevin Dickey was a dispatcher at the warehouse and a joy to work with, a colleague said.

‘Kevin was a worker you wanted to be like,’ she told DailyMail.com. ‘He was an awesome guy. Great friend to have.’

His family said they are ‘devastated at the toll this disaster has taken on out community and the entire midwest’.

In a statement issued to DailyMail.com, the Dickey family shared the dispatcher was a kind, family man who cared about his colleagues.

‘Dad talked often about his co-workers and their daily stories. He had a great bond with many,’ the family said. ‘Dad was a kind man that loved spending time with his family. He stole the show and the hearts of his grandchildren anytime he was around. He will be truly missed. We have lost a very special person.’

They added: ‘Our hearts are with the other families who have also lost loved ones.’ 


A family friend said Hebb (pictured) could light up a room with her smile and has always been a ‘beautiful soul’

The powerful storm left some criticizing Amazon for its cell phone policy, which was temporarily lifted during the pandemic

 In a prepared statement to DailyMail.com, Amazon said ’employees and drivers are allowed to have their cell phones.’

It did not elaborate on the company’s previous workplace ban on electronic devices, nor did she say whether Amazon still plans to reintroduce the rule.

‘If they institute the no cell phone policy, I am resigning.’

The Amazon workers were confirmed dead on Saturday after a series of tornadoes roared through a warehouse near St. Louis, ripping off its roof and causing 11-inch thick concrete walls longer than football fields to collapse on themselves.

Workers remove debris from Amazon’s fulfilment center after it was hit by the tornado

At least 45 Amazon employees made it out safely from the rubble of the 500,000-square-foot Edwardsville, Illinois, facility, fire chief James Whiteford said. 

Authorities had given up hope of finding more survivors as they shifted from rescue to recovery efforts that were expected to last days.

The facility employed about 190 employees for multiple shifts.

Amazon’s 1.1 million square-foot distribution facility is shown before and after the storm.

Authorities had given up hope of finding more survivors as they shifted from rescue to recovery efforts that were expected to last days.

The 1.1 million square-foot facility employed about 190 employees for multiple shifts.

Amazon said in its statement that it donated $1 million to the Edwardsville Community Foundation and was working with officials to identify ways of helping.  

‘We’re deeply saddened by the news that members of our Amazon family passed away as a result of the storm,’ said company spokesperson Kelly Nantel.

‘Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their loved ones, and everyone impacted by the tornado. We also want to thank all the first responders for their ongoing efforts on scene. We’re continuing to provide support to our employees and partners in the area.’

Photograph of the tornado that ripped through Illinois

Billionaire Amazon owner Jeff Bezos carried on with his weekend plans in the aftermath of a storm that killed at least 94 people and left towns in ruin. 

Aerial photos viewed by DailyMail.com show Bezos’ sprawling Beverly Hills backyard being prepped for an outdoor dinner party. A rectangular table covered in a red tablecloth was surrounded by about 16 chairs.

It wasn’t clear whether he attended the gathering; he was in West Texas on Saturday morning for a Blue Origin civilian space launch.

He was slammed on social media Saturday for celebrating the return of his latest space crew while dozens of Amazon workers remain trapped in rubble.

He also posted a photo to his Instagram before the space voyage, showing him and the crewmembers smiling, with the caption: ‘Happy crew this morning in the training center.’

Bezos made no mention of the loss of his employees’ lives throughout the morning, causing some on social media to slam the Amazon founder.

Aerial photos viewed by DailyMail.com show Bezos’ sprawling Beverly Hills backyard being prepped for an outdoor dinner party on Saturday. The home is pictured in this file photo

Bezos was slammed on social media Saturday for celebrating the return of his latest space crew while dozens of Amazon workers remain trapped in rubble

Bezos tweeted about the disaster Saturday, calling it ‘tragic.’ ‘He said: ‘We’re heartbroken over the loss of our teammates there, and our thoughts and prayers are with their families and loved ones.’

Bezos tweeted about the disaster Saturday, calling it ‘tragic.’

‘We’re heartbroken over the loss of our teammates there, and our thoughts and prayers are with their families and loved ones,’ he said.

One Twitter user, Joshua Dryer retweeted a video of Bezos celebrating with Strahan after the rocket landed, saying: ‘It’s really sickening, if you want my honest opinion.

‘Jeff Bezos has said absolutely NOTHING on the lives lost at his facility in Illinois after a catastrophic tornado left numerous workers trapped.

‘But sure, go play wannabe spacemen for 10 minutes. Unreal.’

User @red_baiting wrote that he was ‘really struggling with my rage since Jeff Bezos blasted his major carbon-polluting rocket this morning after Amazon workers died in a rare December tornado last night.’

Tornadoes ripped through six U.S. states Friday night, leaving a trail of death and destruction at homes and businesses stretching more than 200 miles.

The Amazon facility was hit about 8:38 p.m. central time, Whiteford said. 

The force of the winds was so severe the roof was ripped off and the building collapsed on itself.

Witnesses said workers were caught by surprise and forced to take shelter anywhere they could find.

‘I had a coworker that was sending me pictures when they were taking shelter in the bathroom, basically anywhere they could hide,’ said Alexander Bird, who works at a warehouse across the street.

‘People had to think on their feet quick.’

An Amazon employee looks at the damage of a roof collapse at an Amazon distribution center in Edwardsville, Illinois on December 11

Amazon said all employees were normally notified and directed to move to a designated, marked shelter-in-place location when a site was made aware of a tornado warning in the area.

US rescuers desperately searched for survivors Sunday following the natural disasters, which President Joe Biden called ‘one of the largest’ storm outbreaks in American history.

Bezos tweeted about the disaster Saturday, calling it ‘tragic.’

‘We’re heartbroken over the loss of our teammates there, and our thoughts and prayers are with their families and loved ones,’ he said.

‘All of Edwardsville should know that the Amazon team is committed to supporting them and will be by their side through this crisis. We extend our fullest gratitude to all the incredible first responders who have worked so tirelessly at the site.’

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