The nation was rocked last week with news of destructive tornadoes touching down in several states.
Among those killed were six individuals in an Amazon warehouse in Illinois — and new reports allege that management refused to allow employees at that facility to seek shelter at their own homes ahead of the deadly storm.
“I got text messages from him”
The news comes as Amazon faces renewed claims that safety measures are dangerously lax at facilities across the country.
As CNBC reported, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has opened up a federal investigation into exactly what occurred at the Edwardsville warehouse that collapsed when it was hit by a twister.
The New York Post shared the tragic final messages sent by 46-year-old Larry Virden to his longtime girlfriend in the moments just before the building was ripped apart.
Cherie Jones recalled his haunting last words to her, explaining: “I got text messages from him. He always tells me when he is filling up the Amazon truck when he is getting ready to go back. … I was like ‘OK, love you.’ He’s like, ‘Well, Amazon won’t let me leave until after the storm blows over.'”
Although she texted him back, she said she did not receive a response. There was about a 20-minute span at that point during which Virden could have escaped to safety, she estimated.
“The news from Edwardsville is tragic”
“I told him where we live it was only lightning at the time,” Jones explained. “After that, I got nothing from him.”
A screenshot of the heartbreaking text exchange was posted by a pro-union Twitter account in a threat highlighting longstanding safety concerns regarding Amazon employees.
Horrifying details are emerging about the tornado disaster at Amazon’s warehouse in Illinois, where at least 6 workers were killed on the job.
Before he died, Larry Virden reportedly texted his girlfriend: “Amazon won’t let us leave.” He leaves behind four children. pic.twitter.com/3ZRLik9VIs
— More Perfect Union (@MorePerfectUS) December 13, 2021
For his part, Amazon chief Jeff Bezos waited nearly 24 hours before addressing the horrific event.
In a pair of tweets on Saturday evening, he wrote: “The news from Edwardsville is tragic. We’re heartbroken over the loss of our teammates there, and our thoughts and prayers are with their families and loved ones. 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.”