Amazon driver in Illinois was told she’d be axed for not finishing deliveries during tornado warning – 80 minutes before twister leveled warehouse and killed six workers

  • Amazon delivery driver was told she would be fired if she did not finish her deliveries during the deadly tornado in Illinois last week
  • The driver’s boss threatened that returning to the base would ‘ultimately end with you not having a job come tomorrow morning’
  • The tornado touched down about 80 minutes later on December 10 
  • It struck one of the company’s warehouses killing six workers in Edwardsville, Illinois- about 30 miles from the unnamed delivery driver
  • Amazon and the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration are investigating the driver’s situation and the six deaths 

An Amazon delivery driver was told she would be fired if she did not finish her deliveries during the deadly tornado that hammered Illinois and killed six workers at its distribution center. 

The unnamed Amazon delivery driver informed her boss at the dispatch that tornado sirens were sounding in her area and suggested she head back to the base for safety, but the supervisor threatened her with termination, according to the text messages provided to Bloomberg. 

About 80 minutes later, a tornado struck one of the company’s warehouses on December 10 in Edwardsville – approximately 30 miles from where she was located. 

Despite the oncoming tornado and the driver’s fear for her safety, the boss warned that if she decided to return without finishing her deliveries ‘you not having a job come tomorrow morning.’ 

‘If you decided to come back, that choice is yours. But I can tell you it won’t be viewed as for your own safety,’ the boss said. 

‘The safest practice is to stay exactly where you are. If you decide to return with your packages, it will be viewed as you refusing your route, which will ultimately end with you not having a job come tomorrow morning. The sirens are just a warning.’

The dispatcher only realized the danger and relented after the tornado struck the Amazon facility. 

An Amazon spokesperson said the boss did not abide by the standard safety protocols and should have never threatened the driver’s employment (Pictured: Recovery operations continue after the partial collapse of an Amazon Fulfillment Center in Edwardsville, Illinois)

The Amazon driver informed her boss of the tornado warnings and sirens and expressed her concerns for her safety but was told her return would ‘ultimately end with you not having a job come tomorrow morning’

Exchange between Amazon delivery driver and dispatch

Driver: Radios been going off.

Dispatch: OK. Just keep driving. We can’t just call people back for a warning unless Amazon tells us to do so.

Driver: Just relaying in case y’all didn’t hear it over there. 

Driver:  Tornado alarms are going off over here.

Dispatch: Just keep delivering for now. We have to wait for word from Amazon. If we need to bring people back, the decision will ultimately be up to them. I will let you know if the situation changes at all. I’m talking with them now about it.

Driver: How about for my own personal safety, I’m going to head back. Having alarms going off next to me and nothing but locked building around me isn’t sheltering in place. That’s wanting to turn this van into a casket. Hour left of delivery time. And if you look at the radar, the worst of the storm is going to be right on top of me in 30 minutes.

Driver: It was actual sirens.

Dispatch: If you decided to come back, that choice is yours. But I can tell you it won’t be viewed as for your own safety. The safest practice is to stay exactly where you are. If you decide to return with your packages, it will be viewed as you refusing your route, which will ultimately end with you not having a job come tomorrow morning. The sirens are just a warning. 

Driver: I’m literally stuck in this damn van without a safe place to go with a tornado on the ground.

Dispatch: Amazon is saying shelter in place. 

Dispatch: I will let you know when they say anything else to me.

Dispatch: [Driver name] you need to shelter in place. The wind just came through the warehouse and ripped the garage door and broke it so even if you got back here, you can’t get in the building. You need to stop and shelter in place.

Driver: Okay.  

The driver first informed her boss of the impending peril at 7:08 pm but was told: ‘OK. Just keep driving. We can’t just call people back for a warning unless Amazon tells us to do so.’

The stunned driver then told the boss that tornado sirens were going off, but the unidentified dispatcher continued to insist she continue working.

‘Just keep delivering for now. We have to wait for word from Amazon. If we need to bring people back, the decision will ultimately be up to them. I will let you know if the situation changes at all. I’m talking with them now about it,’ the boss said. 

That was when the driver had enough and told her boss she was driving back to the base. 

‘How about for my own personal safety, I’m going to head back. Having alarms going off next to me and nothing but locked buildings around me isn’t sheltering in place. That’s wanting to turn this van into a casket,’ the driver replied. 

Her complaints became more desperate as the deadly storm intensified. 

‘Hour left of delivery time. And if you look at the radar, the worst of the storm is going to be right on top of me in 30 minutes,’ she said. 

Soon after, the tornado touched down near a highway, throwing cars in the air, destroying houses and demolishing the Amazon warehouse where the six workers were killed. 

‘I’m literally stuck in this damn van without a safe place to go with a tornado on the ground,’ the scared driver said.  

Moments later, the boss told her to find cover after being told by his Amazon supervisors that the tornado hit the warehouse.

‘You need to shelter in place. The wind just came through the warehouse and ripped the garage door and broke it so even if you got back here, you can’t get in the building. You need to stop and shelter in place,’ the dispatcher said. 

The driver managed to avoid any harm but her dispatcher may soon be out of a job. 

After reviewing the text exchange between the driver and the boss, Amazon said it was investigating the situation. 

A spokesperson told Bloomberg the boss ‘didn’t follow the standard safety practice,’ and ‘should have immediately directed the driver to seek shelter’ when they first learned of the oncoming tornado and ‘under no circumstance should the dispatcher have threatened the driver’s employment.’ 

Amazon is also being questioned for the lack of safety protocols that led to the death of the six warehouse workers.

The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is investigating the deadly incident after workers have reportedly claimed that their weather safety training is inadequate. 

Several employees, who wished to remain anonymous, said they were given minimal or no any information on what to do in case of a tornado and said that workers never physically practice drills.  

Amazon has faced accusations from its workers describing unsafe and inhumane work practices for years. 

The company said its facility was up to code with designated safe zones but that the six workers who were killed were stuck in the section of the warehouse that was hit the hardest. 

The incident involving the driver and the death of the six Amazon workers are under investigation by the company and the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Pictured: Safety personnel and first responders survey a damaged Amazon Distribution Center on December 11, 2021 in Edwardsville, Illinois)

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said building codes may need to be toughened as storms become more frequent and deadly. 

Experts have continued to warn that extreme weather will continue to increase and intensify as a result of climate change. 

This year America experienced an onslaught of intense droughts, raging wildfires, increased hurricanes, and deadly tornados. 

The tornado that touched down in Edwardsville is one of 18 that hit the Midwest on December 10, killing at least 90 people in five states. 



The Amazon workers killed include Etheria S. Hebb (top left), Kevin Dickey (top right), Deandre S. Morrow (bottom left) and Larry Virden (bottom middle) and Austin J. McEwan (bottom right)



Clayton Cope, a US Navy veteran, was among those killed in the disaster

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