OSHA opens investigation into deadly collapse of Illinois Amazon facility
First responders say every missing person has been accounted for, and the death count remains at six, with one person still in the hospital
EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. -- OSHA has opened an investigation into the deadly collapse of an Amazon facility that was hit by an EF-3 tornado Friday night.
Days after the storm, the death count remains at six, with one person still in the hospital. First responders say every missing person has been accounted for.
"There is an investigation that’s going on to make sure all the code was followed in the building of the building," Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker said. "And to find out exactly what occurred here."
Pritzker authorized a state disaster proclamation for all impacted counties and requested additional federal resources, saying they will assist the community every step of the way.
Pritzker said the tornado that hit the 1.1-million square foot building was an unexpected, major severe storm.
"We are seeing more and more of that throughout the state of Illinois," Pritzker said. "So it makes us wonder … about whether or not we need to change code based upon the climate change that we are seeing all around us."
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been on site since Saturday to start their investigation to see if workplace safety rules were followed. They will have six months to complete the investigation.
Amazon Senior Vice-President of Global Deliveries Jon Feldman told FOX 2 in St. Louis that there was a designated "safe area" on the north side of the fulfillment center. The north side is still standing and was largely undamaged. Thirty-nine of the 46 workers in the building made it to that north side. Seven did not.
"All procedures were followed correctly," Feldman told FOX 2. "The thing I want to emphasize is the heroic nature of all 46 people that were in this building. They definitely saved lives."
Amazon employee David Kosiek was working inside the building when the tornado struck.
"Everybody was freaking out," Kosiek said. "It sounded like a train coming through the building. You think you know what a train sounds like, but when you experience it yourself it's totally different. The ceiling tiles came crashing in. It happened within the snap of a finger, so quickly."
Amazon said they will support their employees with paid time off and rental cars.
"The most important thing for us is to take care of them, and for them to know they have time and flexibility," Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said.
According to Amazon, the destroyed delivery station, which opened in July 2020, will take some time to rebuild and bring the employees back. However, their big footprint in this area will allow them to relocate to other facilities if they choose to.
Amazon said they are donating $1 million to the Edwardsville Community Foundation to help those who have been impacted by the tornado.