OSHA investigating Amazon warehouse collapse that killed six

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SIX AMAZON WORKERS were killed Friday, Dec. 10, when an Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville was struck by a tornado. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating whether any violations of workplace safety or health regulations contributed to the tragedy. – KMOV screencap

By CARL GREEN
Illinois Correspondent

Edwardsville, IL – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the Amazon warehouse collapse in Edwardsville on Friday, Dec, 10 that claimed the lives of six warehouse workers.

Forty-five Amazon workers made it out of the warehouse safely after a tornado struck the warehouse. Recovery efforts continued at the site along Interstate 255-270 on Monday, Dec. 13.

OSHA officers arrived the day after the tornado. “OSHA has six months to complete its investigation, issue citations and propose monetary penalties if violations of workplace safety and or health regulations are found,” U.S. Department of Labor spokesman Scott Allen said.

Tornado warnings began at 8 p.m. on the 10th, and workers began gathering in shelter areas. The National Weather Service said the tornado hit between 8:28 p.m. and 8:32 p.m., intensifying rapidly as it struck the Amazon warehouse. With estimated peak winds of 150 miles per hour, the force was so severe that the roof was ripped off and 11-inch thick concrete walls longer than football fields fell in on themselves.

“You want to be away from windows and in a place that structurally has integrity, just like we would in our homes,” Amazon spokesman Kelly Nantel said.

OSHA recommends taking shelter in basements, but the warehouse did not have one.
Edwardsville Police Chief Michael Fillback said everyone reported to have been at the warehouse Friday night has been accounted for.

THE VICTIMS
Madison County Coroner Stephen P. Nonn identified the victims as

  • Austin McEwen, 26, of Edwardsville.
  • Deandre Morrow, 28, of St. Louis.
  • Clayton Lynn Cope, 29, of Alton.
  • Etheria Hebb, 34, of St. Louis.
  • Larry Virden, 46, of Collinsville.
  • Kevin Dickey, 62, of Carlyle.

STILL WORKING TO CLEAR DEBRIS
“The Edwardsville Fire Department is still working to clear debris from the site and working with representatives of Amazon to transition the property back to their control,” Fillback said.

“This transition will take place in the near future when emergency crews have completed their efforts. At this time, everyone reported to have been at the property when this event occurred has been accounted for and we have no other report of missing individuals.”

“The Madison County Coroner’s office has spoken with a representative from each family to relay their findings regarding identification and preliminary cause of death for each victim,” Fillback said.

At least 45 Amazon employees made it out safely. Authorities had given up hope of finding more survivors as they shifted from rescue to recovery efforts that were expected to last days.

The building hit was used as a delivery station to prepare orders for delivery to customers’ homes. The company also has a sorting station and a fulfillment center there.

“On behalf of the City of Edwardsville, we want to thank everyone for the outpouring of assistance and support throughout this difficult time,” Fillback said. “We would ask those wishing to make a donation of any sort to contact the Salvation Army or American Red Cross.”

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