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'He really wanted so much for himself': Family of St. Louis Amazon worker speaks out

It's been one week since 6 workers died after a deadly tornado hit the warehouse in Edwardsville, causing it to collapse.

ST. LOUIS — It's been one week since the deadly tornado in Edwardsville. It killed six workers when an Amazon warehouse collapsed.

The victims were Deandre Morrow and Etheria Hebb of St. Louis, Kevin Dickey of Carlyle, Larry Virden of Collinsville, Austin McEwen of Edwardsville and Clayton Cope of Alton.

"It’s been a hard week to wrap our minds around it," Anitra Lee-Cole shares. 

On Friday morning, Cole tries to remember happier times with her nephew DeAndre Morrow.

As she looks at her phone, the pictures remind her of the last time they were together.

"Last time we saw him was a couple of months ago around the 4th of July. He brought his girlfriend over. He wanted her to meet his cool aunt and uncle," Cole laughs.

She was ready to make new memories, too. 

"We planned to see him over the Christmas holiday," she adds.

Credit: KSDK

However, last Friday night, an EF-3 tornado ripped families apart with its destructive force in Madison County. 

As this all happened, Cole was in shelter herself.

The warnings went off near her Florissant home.

"While we were in the basement that time, I happened to be online and saw a news story about the tornado hitting Amazon," she recalls. 

Never realizing, her nephew, was one of the six killed.

"I don't think any of us connected that he worked at that Amazon at that point of time. We just knew he worked for Amazon and we didn't know it was that location," she admits. 

She explains DeAndre's mom knew he worked at that specific facility and they were trying to find out where he was. 

Soon, they learned the terrible news. 

The next day, the revelation and confirmation shattered her world.

"I get this message and phone call and I was in complete shock. I couldn't even focus for a minute because it was just unbelievable," Cole says. 

The family is now left with questions.

"They are going to do what they can to seek answers," Cole shares. 

And they're left with heavy hearts because Cole believes Morrow still so had much more ahead of him.

"He really wanted so much for himself. His dad said that he had told him he was trying to save money because he wanted to take his girlfriend to Thailand to propose to her. Beyond working, he was a young entrepreneur starting up a clothing line, he did a lot of artwork and did a lot of things he wanted to share. It's sad because he won't ever be able to experience that," she explains. 

Life without him is hard to picture. But what comforts Cole is the memory of her nephew's beautiful soul.

"Very loving and caring, he was family-oriented, always wanted to be around family. He always made you laugh and smile, a very intelligent young man. He was always a welcoming spirit and wonderful spirit and wonderful person," Cole adds.

Funeral services for Morrow will take place next week.

Speaking on behalf of DeAndre's father, Cole asks for privacy. 

"The Morrow family wants privacy at this time and want to remain a low profile," she shares.

As for the mother's side, they have partnered with civil rights attorneys Ben Crump and Bob Hilliard. 

In a statement, the attorneys say:

The family members we represent are deeply distraught and want answers to their questions. We are seeking to determine if Amazon did everything in its power to warn employees of the incoming danger from the tornado and provide a designated safe area for employees to shelter. Just three years ago, a tornado struck an Amazon warehouse in Baltimore, Maryland, killing two people. Were lessons learned from that tragedy turned into new policies and were they followed here?

We are asking Amazon employees who worked at the fulfillment center to assist us with our investigation and help us understand what warnings were given and what procedures followed. And we commend the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for opening an investigation into workplace safety at the facility. Out of this horrific event, it's essential that proper protocols be put in place to protect the safety of warehouse workers to the fullest extent possible.

RELATED: OSHA investigating Amazon warehouse collapse

Edwardsville's mayor says in the spring they will dedicate a plaque for the victims and it will read, "May the lives of the Amazon tornado victims continue to bloom within our memories."

MORE: Edwardsville officials remember victims of tornado that killed 6 at Amazon facility

5 On Your Side's Pepper Baker contributed to this story.

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