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

  • Six Amazon employees died after an Illinois warehouse collapsed from tornado damage 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'd 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, his girlfriend 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. A large wall in the warehouse and a section of roof collapsed.

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


"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.

Video: How Amazon moves packages so quickly

Jones told the Post that Virden texted her 16 minutes before the tornado was said to have touched down. She said this was enough time to get 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 so he had 20 minutes to get home," she told the Post.

Jones said Virden sent his text at about 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.

"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 bawling 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, the 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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