Mother of Amazon employee killed in tornado slams company for not protecting its workers

An Illinois woman whose adult son died in December while working at an Amazon warehouse after a tornado hit the building blasted the company on Tuesday, saying her son was only at the facility that day because he was called into work on his day off.

Deon January spoke out against Amazon after her son, DeAndre Morrow, was killed by severe weather on Dec. 10 alongside five others.

Amazon Illinois warehouse tornado

An Amazon distribution center is heavily damaged after a strong thunderstorm moved through the area, Dec. 10, 2021, in Edwardsville, Illinois. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson / AP Newsroom)

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“It breaks my heart that DeAndre was scheduled to take his day off but was called from dispatch to work an extra shift,” January said at a news conference.

January was accompanied at the news conference by attorneys Benjamin Crump and Jennifer Hightower, and four people who survived the tornado who say they now suffer from PTSD.

“We believe [the tragedy] was completely preventable if Amazon lived up to its words,” Crump said. “And those words were ‘We aim to be Earth’s safest place to work. We are committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all Amazon employees every day.’ Well, that wasn’t true on Dec. 10.”

Amazon

A heavily damaged Amazon fulfillment center is seen Saturday, in Edwardsville, Illinois. (AP/Jeff Roberson) (AP/Jeff Roberson / Associated Press)

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Crump said workers requested to go home to shelter on the day of the storm but were threatened with termination if they left work.

“Because of Amazon’s apathy and greed, I had to do what no mother should. Bury my child,” January said.

She explained that the tornado “happened by chance” but “Amazon’s cruelty was a choice.”

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that Amazon’s severe weather emergency procedures were in line with minimal federal safety guidelines but urged the company to make changes to further protect its workers.

Workers use equipment to remove a section of roof left on a heavily damaged Amazon fulfillment center Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021, in Edwardsville, Ill. A large section of the roof of the building was ripped off and walls collapsed when a strong storms m (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson / AP Newsroom)

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OSHA sent a “hazard” letter to Amazon that requires the company to review its severe weather emergency procedures. The agency said it spoke with some Amazon employees who did not know the location of the building’s shelter-in-place area and that they could not recall ever participating in a severe weather drill.

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Three lawsuits have been brought against Amazon over the events of Dec. 10, including one filed by January. The lawsuits claim Amazon required workers to remain at the facility until the moments before the tornado slammed into the building and that the employees who were killed had been told to seek shelter in a bathroom that the company either knew or should have known was not safe.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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