Autumn Kirks and her boyfriend Joe Ward worked together at the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory in Kentucky just a few weeks ago in an effort to save money for a new house for their eight children.
The pair were both working inside the factory on Dec. 10 when a tornado caused the factory roof to collapse while over 100 people were working inside.
The tornadoes completely decimated miles of land across six states, killing at least 49 people as of Monday morning. The death count is expected to rise rescuers work through the rubble.
Thankfully, the Kirks were able to make it out alive, but Ward was unable to do so.
“I had a savior,” Kirks shared. “I don’t know who it was, but he lifted a concrete wall off me and three of my girls and got us out.”
Kirks recalled how her boyfriend had been within 10 feet of her when the tornado leveled the building. Now, she is grieving the loss of her partner who stood by her to raise their eight children.
“I’m trying to be strong for them,” she said. “That’s the only thing keeping me going right now is my kids.”
Mark Saxton was another person of the 110 people working the night shift at the Mayfield factory when the tornado destroyed the building’s roof.
“I don’t see how nobody can be OK after this,” he told Snow.
Denise Cunningham’s son, Devyn, 21, was killed while working in the factory when the tornado hit. She believes that no one should have been working there during the extreme weather conditions.
“They knew it was coming,” she told Snow. “I’m more than angry. I think they should be held accountable for everything that’s happened to these families, for my son.”
The CEO of Mayfield Consumer Products, Tony Propes, alleged the tornadoes were too unpredictable to have planned ahead and evacuated the factory.
“If we believed that we could do anything differently, in hindsight, of course, I think all of us do something differently,” he stated. “It is such a gamble to say leave, because the last thing you do, it says don’t get in your car, that’s what experts say.”
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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