Autumn Kirks and her boyfriend, Lannis Ward, were working the night shift at the Mayfield candle factory when the deadly tornado struck the area.
The couple was standing “10 feet” away from each other when they were told to take cover. Kirks pulled down her safety googles and took shelter, glancing away from her boyfriend for just a minute. When she looked back, he was gone. Ward was pronounced dead a day later.
“He was about ten feet from me when we started. I don’t know where he ended up,” Kirks told Fox News host Neil Cavuto in a heart-wrenching on-air interview Monday.
KENTUCKY CANDLE FACTORY OWNER SPEAKS OUT
“I don’t know where they found him. Nobody has given us that information. We were right there in the same hallway at the same time taking cover with everybody else from the plant,” she said.
It was reported that the candle factory was operating “24/7” to meet demands for the Christmas holiday before the tornado struck the area. Although the bad weather was known to the employees, the intensity of the tornado took the community by surprise.
“They said take cover. About that time, everything got really quiet,” Kirks recalled. “Then it was like the building was picked up and thrown back down on top of us.”
Kentucky Gov. Andy Besher reported at least 80 people killed in his state with the number likely to exceed 100.
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Kirks said she and three others in the hallway were trapped under a concrete wall before an unidentified man, who she called “superman,” lifted it off and brought them to safety. If not for his help, Kirks said, “I feel like I would probably still be under that wall.”
“We had a guy play superman. I don’t know who he was…We got to safety because of him. Otherwise, I feel like I would probably still be under that wall.”
” I don’t know who he was. I wish I did, so I could thank him,” she said. ” We got to safety because of him.”
In addition to her boyfriend, Kirks supervisor’s wife was also killed in the disaster, she revealed. As for the rest of her team, Kirks said “I can think of 30 people that’s I’ve seen since then that are in good shape.
“I know there’s so many more that are still lucky to be with us, but I personally have seen 20 or 30 of them and held them dearly, because we’re a family at work,” she told Cavuto. “Sometimes it doesn’t seem that way, but we try our best to take care of our people.”
The owner of the candle factory has already expressed plans to rebuild and assist the reeling community.
“I believe that we’re strong. I believe that we have a strong community. It’s very apparent that everybody is coming together to help each other out,” Kirks said.
“As for rebuilding, I think it is a wonderful idea. We’ve been told they’re starting a new building. Either way, I look forward going back to work. I can’t wait,” she said. “I love my job and I love the people that I work with.”
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For now, Kirks said she’s focussed on taking it “one moment at a time.
“I’m still, I guess, processing it. It hasn’t hit hard enough for me to break yet. I’m just waiting for it, I know it’s coming,” she said. “All the kids are a mess. His mom is just a disaster. Considering the circumstances, we’re holding up pretty good.”