Multiple Deaths Reported at Amazon After Tornado

Storm causes collapse of an Amazon facility in Edwardsville, Illinois resulting in multiple deaths



An Amazon facility faces mass destruction after Friday’s storm, resulting in the building collapsing in.

Anna Simms, Reporter

With weather alerts going off on phones throughout several states, people began to take shelter as a derecho, a storm that often spans across states, rolled in with vigorous high-speed winds and rain, putting millions of people under tornado warnings. 

Despite the tornado sirens blaring around 9 p.m. on Dec. 10, employees at the Amazon fulfillment center in Edwardsville, Illinois continued to work in the 1.5 million square foot facility, unaware of the tragedies that would later unfold. 

Only a few minutes later after the sirens went off, a later reported EF-3 tornado, began to form just mere miles within the building, reaching winds of up to 136 miles per hour. With the tornado roaming nearby, the winds began to peel the roof off of the Amazon facility, taking away a football-field-sized portion into the air; scattering some debris into a nearby body of water and surrounding land. Roughly half of the warehouse and close to 50 employees were exposed to the harsh winds outside.

The tornado touched down near the Amazon fulfillment center northwest of the intersection of Interstates 255 and 270 near Edwardsville, Ill. (Google Maps)

By the end of the storm, half of the facility had collapsed in on itself, revealing a fleet of Amazon delivery trucks and mounds of debris.

“I was worried for the people working and for their families,” Tera Schultz, 45, a resident near the Amazon facility, recalls. “I can’t imagine how scary it was to see that big of a building collapse from the inside.”

Around 100 first responders fled to the scene after the storm had passed, searching for the employees inside the building. 

Edwardsville Fire Chief James Whiteford originally reported that 45 employees had made it out safely, also reporting two deaths at the time, one of whom was Clayton Lynn Cope, 29. There was also an employee who had critical injuries that had been airlifted to a nearby hospital. 

More recent reports state that a total of six employee deaths resulted from the collapse of the Amazon facility. 

Despite the partial collapse of the Amazon fulfillment center and surrounding area, the majority of Edwardsville was unharmed and undamaged, with no additional injuries or deaths reported. 

Power outages became the most reported problem, starting around 8:20 p.m. at the start of the storm. 

“Our power was out all night,” Claire Martens, 15, a nearby resident states after the storm.

The same storm system had developed several other tornados in surrounding states, with Kentucky having the most fatalities, more than 70 have been reported. 

At Liberty on Friday evening, there was a wrestling meet going on. Once the tornado sirens went off, athletes and spectators had to shelter in the hallways until the storm had passed.

Where Were You When The Tornado Sirens Went Off?

Read more about the tornadoes that hit the St. Louis area and throughout the Midwest here:

Fox 2 News

Saint Louis Post-Dispatch

Belleville News-Democrat