Amazon Worker Killed In Warehouse Collapse Was Reportedly Told Not To Leave

 One of the Amazon employees killed in Illinois when a massive tornado smashed through a warehouse where he worked was told by the company not to leave until the storm passed, his girlfriend told the New York Post.

Cherie Jones, the girlfriend of 46-year-old Larry Virden, cited text messages she exchanged with her boyfriend on Friday night.

“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,’” Jones told the paper.

Jones said she got that message about 8:23 p.m. Officials say the tornado touched down some 16 minutes later.

“We heard the tornado didn’t touch down until 8:39 so he had 20 minutes to get home,” Jones also told the Post. “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.”

Asked if she blames Amazon for her boyfriend’s death, Jones said: “Not really. But it’s that what-if situation: What if they would have let him leave? He could have made it home.”

Meanwhile, Amazon said the fulfillment center where Virden worked was under a tornado warning and the management team tried to get workers into a designated shelter area.

Virden was the father of four children, including one adopted child, all between the ages of 9 and 12. Jones said their children are having a hard time understanding that Virden won’t ever be coming home again.

“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 bawling because she knew something was wrong,” Jones said. “The youngest doesn’t understand it either. We are really going to have to sit down with them.”

Virden served in the Army and did a stint in Iraq, where Jones said he saw combat. “He had a missile blow up in front of him like 200 yards away, so he was lucky over there,” she said.

“When he was over there, he made his peace with the Maker so he was prepared to die. But we didn’t want him to die now,” she told the Post.Amazon has been in full damage control since the tornado ripped through its warehouse, donating $1 million to the Edwardsville Community Foundation. The company said it is also contacting victims’ families to offer help.

“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. We also want to thank all the first responders for their ongoing efforts on scene,” Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said in a statement Sunday. “We’re continuing to provide support to our employees and partners in the area.”

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on Monday launched an investigation into the collapse of the Amazon facility. Six people died and at least one was injured after the tornado hit the 1.1-million-square-foot delivery center on Friday, according to officials.

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