Mother Recalls Last Words to Son Who Died in Tornado at Amazon Warehouse

On the third day since the roof partially collapsed at an Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois, details continue to emerge about the six employees killed in the tragic event.

Carla Cope, the mother of Clayton Cope, one of the workers who died in the collapse, told news station WBNS about the final exchange she had with her son while a tornado barreled toward the warehouse. According to Cope, once she heard about the storm's trajectory on TV, she called her son to try and warn him.

"We told him it looked like the storm was heading that way and that he needed to get to shelter," Cope.

Clayton Cope promised to leave the building, as his mother said, but only after warning his coworkers about the impending danger. Cope attributed this thoughtfulness to her son's time in the U.S. Navy.

amazon warehouse collapse tornado
An Illinois mother is remembering the last time she spoke to her son before he was killed when an Amazon Fulfillment Center in Edwardsville, Illinois where he was working partially collapsed in a storm. Pictured, recovery operations continue after the partial collapse of at the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Edwardsville, Illinois on December 12, 2021. Tim Vizer/AFP via Getty Images

"He was trained in the Navy," she explained. "That's what they do, and in his job, he would've put himself out there no matter what."

Amazon representatives have said since the collapse that there were approximately 11 minutes between the local warning sirens sounding and the tornado hitting the warehouse. Once the storm passed, Cope became worried as her son stopped answering her calls. She and other family members drove to the warehouse to see what had happened.

"We were lucky enough to get there before they blocked the way, before no one could get up there," Cope said. "We parked and walked close, as close as we could, to the building. We could see all the damage on the building, and it was on the south end where he would've been."

Company representatives confirmed that the warehouse has a designated tornado shelter area. It is unclear, however, how many employees were able to get to it on Friday night. Cope said that, due to the building's size, it might have been unlikely that her son and others were able to get to the shelter in time.

"There's nothing that you can experience like getting that information," Cope said. "We're all in the same boat. There's no amount of sympathy that can make you feel any better. It's just going to take time."

The other workers who died in the collapse were Deandre Morrow, Etheria Hebb, Kevin Dickey, Larry Virden, and Austin McEwen. McEwen reportedly died while attempting to shelter in a bathroom with other employees. Some workers told Reuters that they had been told to shelter in bathrooms, but others gave conflicting reports.