Civil rights attorney Ben Crump filed a lawsuit on behalf of Deon January–a woman whose son, DeAndre Morrow, died in a tornado after being asked to work on his day off at an Amazon facility in Illinois.
“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 during a press conference at Mt. Joy Baptist Church on Apr. 3.
Her son reportedly worked overtime and extra shifts to pay off a car she bought him and earn money from holidays.
“We believe [the incident] was completely preventable if Amazon lived up to its words,” Crump inserted. “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.'”
Morrow’s mother and the famed attorney were joined by several other individuals, including four people who survived the tornado at Edwardsville, Illinois’s Amazon warehouse in December 2021.
The deadly EF-3 tornado, with top winds of 150 mph winds, killed six employees when it caused the facility to collapse due to structural failure: Austin McEwen (26), Morrow (28), Austin McEwen (26), Clayton Cope (29), Etheria Hebb (34), Larry Virden (46), and Kevin Dickey (62).
Edwardsville Police Chief Michael Fillback said concrete walls on both sides of the building collapsed inward, and the roof fell. Officials added that the walls were 40 feet tall and approximately the length of an entire football field.
The surviving victims of the Amazon warehouse’s collapse have reportedly been coping with PTSD since the incident.
Their press conference arrived months after January’s lawsuit, and at least two others were filed. The suits alleged that Amazon required its employees to stay at work until moments before the tornado hit. They also alleged that the workers who died were misguided to seek shelter in the bathroom and that the company either knew or should’ve been aware that it wasn’t safe.
“Because of Amazon’s apathy and greed, I had to do what no mother should. Bury my child,” January said.
The online giant’s representatives defended its response to the tragic events, saying they believed the company acted appropriately.
Morrow’s girlfriend, Chelsea Thomas, set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for his clothing brand, “Capitalize And Prosper LLC.”
“De’Andre aspired to be a household name,” she wrote on the GFM. “He wanted his brand, ‘Capitalize And Prosper LLC,’ to touch the world with his many plans to start laundry mats, car washes, grocery stores, build housing for low-income families, etc. He strived to make life better for his family, friends, and community.”
Since creating the page, she reached $23,479 of her $25,000 goal.