The horrific tornadoes that ripped through as many as eight states late Friday and early Saturday are being blamed for at least 100 deaths, officials said, and family members and friends of the victims are reeling from the losses.
Victims have been of a wide range of ages, including infants as young as 2 months and children 3 to 5 years old, Gov. Andy Beshear confirmed.
Eight people died and eight people remain unaccounted for at a candle factory that had more than 100 workers inside when the the tornado system tore through the Kentucky town of Mayfield, company spokesperson Bob Ferguson told CNN on Sunday. It was initially feared scores could have lost their lives but Ferguson said more than 90 workers had escaped.
Here’s what we know about some of those killed.
Oaklynn Koon, 2 months
Two-month-old Oaklynn Koon died Monday morning from injuries she sustained when a tornado hit her grandmother’s home in Dawson Springs, Kentucky, her paternal grandmother, Audrey Carman, told CNN.
The infant, her two brothers, and her parents, Douglas and Jackie Koon, were sheltering at her maternal grandmother’s house when the tornado hit.
Oaklynn’s parents tried to protect their children by putting them hide in the bathtub and covering them with couch cushions. But the tornado picked up the home, and the family landed on the other side of a neighbor’s house, Carman said.
“We didn’t have much time with her, but we loved the time we got to spend with her,” Carman told CNN.
Robert Daniel, 47
Graves County Deputy Robert Daniel met his son at a barbershop Friday morning to give him an early Christmas present.
It was the last time the two saw each other, Zachary Daniel told CNN. His father was killed when tornadoes ripped through Mayfield around midnight Friday.
“That night was just horrible. I still don’t believe it,” Zachary Daniel said of the death of his 47-year-old father.
His dad was supervising inmates on a work-release program and Friday night was his first time on the night shift at the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory, said Zachary, who also works there.
Jailer George Workman said Daniel “gave his precious life while physically ensuring that his 7 inmates were moved into a safe location, from which they all survived. He was just unable to get there himself in time.”
Zachary called his father a great person and a loving grandfather.
Brian Crick, 43
District Judge Brian Crick was also killed in the tornadoes that struck western Kentucky, according to a statement from the chief justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court.
“This is a shocking loss to his family, his community and the court system, and his family is in our prayers,” wrote Chief Justice John Minton.
Crick was 43, according to the Lexington Herald Leader, and served McLean and Muhlenberg counties.
Clayton Cope, 29
The family of Clayton Cope, a 29-year-old US Navy veteran, confirmed to CNN that he died when a tornado hit an Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois, on Friday night.
His mother, Carla Cope, told CNN her son was “a really good kid.” He would have turned 30 on December 27, she said.
“He loved to hang out with his friends,” she said. “He was big-hearted; he would do anything for anybody.”
Clayton followed several other men in the Cope family by serving in the Navy, his mother said. His six-year stint included working as a calibration specialist on aircraft carriers, she added.
Clayton had worked for Amazon for just over a year as a maintenance mechanic, Carla Cope said. His father also worked at the facility in the same position.
“Had (Clay) not been there, his father would have,” she said.
Carla Cope said she last spoke with Clay shortly before the tornado hit. She told him the storm was coming and remembers him talking to someone nearby, telling them they needed to go make sure the other employees knew as well.
Austin McEwen, 26
Austin McEwen also worked at the Amazon warehouse and was among the six employees killed there when a tornado destroyed part of the facility.
“Austin was a beautiful soul, loved by all who met him. … He was a talented baseball and hockey player. He loved the outdoors and his hunting dogs,” said a description on a GoFundMe page.
McEwen, of Edwardsville, Illinois, “graduated from Vatterott College with a degree in mechanics,” the page said.
Janine Williams, 50
Janine Williams was among those who died when a tornado tore through the candle factory in Mayfield, Kentucky.
Her husband, Ivy Williams, was one of the people helping to pull trapped workers out the debris. He told CNN that his wife was considered missing when the Graves County coroner’s office called him with the news.
Williams and her husband had four children together and 19 grandchildren.
Other victims at the Amazon warehouse
Madison County Coroner Stephen Nonn released the names of the others who died at the Amazon distribution center. They were Deandre Morrow, 28, of St. Louis; Kevin Dickey, 62, of Carlyle, Illinois; Etheria Hebb, 34, of St. Louis; and Larry Virden, 46, of Collinsville, Illinois.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly described Robert Daniel’s job at the candle factory. He was supervising inmates on a work-release program.
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