Mayfield candle factory worker speaks out from Nashville hospital bed
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Isaiah Holt said he thought he was going to die after a tornado hit the candle factory he works at in Mayfield, KY.
According to a spokesperson for Mayfield Consumer Products, 90 of the 110 employees are accounted for. The others are either dead or missing.
He said he’s still trying to wrap his mind around what happened Friday night as he recovers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
“There were still people just walking around, working, doing regular stuff. Then I looked outside though, and it was like the calm before the storm. Everything stopped and there were flag poles that just go to whirling,” Holt said as he recalled the terrifying moments leading up to a powerful tornado tearing through the candle factory.
Holt said he was hesitant to commute to Mayfield from Paducah for work Friday evening, but aside from all of the weather warnings, everything seemed fine until the tornado sirens went off around 9:15 p.m.
Holt said the night shift workers were being told to take cover in a hallway near the factory’s bathroom.
“But I was like, that’s not safe. There’s a lot of lockers and palettes and a lot of that stuff in the hallway where the main thing I learned from tornadoes as a child was debris is what kills people,” Holt said.
He knew that sitting under shelves would give them more protection.
“I told this young lady, I said, ‘Get under there. If the debris falls, this will protect us.’ It wasn’t more than five seconds later the lights cut out. The roof left and it came right back down, and the rack protected us, but it’s like I’m trapped. There’s a man on top of me to the left. My brother is at my foot,” Holt said. “The way the building collapsed was perfect enough to mess us up but not kill us.”
Holt had a collapsed lung and broken ribs. His brother, who took cover with him, is in an induced coma but he is expected to survive. One of his coworkers who took cover with them told Holt he saved her life by suggesting for her to take cover under shelves.
“She said, ‘I’m only alive because I listened to you. I can’t find my friends,’” Holt said as he became teary-eyed thinking about their coworkers who didn’t make it out alive.
More than four hours is how long Holt spent laying under debris before someone would pull him out.
“It seemed like it was five minutes, but it was forever,” Holt said. “I just remember thinking keep wiggling my toes to keep the blood flowing, but I really couldn’t feel my legs from the chemicals that we were laying in was burning them,” Holt said.
Holt said the headphones he was wearing protected his head from the wall that caved in near him.
“Beats headphones and a Lowe’s bucket saved my life. That Lowe’s bucket gave that wall enough space not to crush my legs,” Holt said.
After seeing all the destruction, Holt said he wishes he and his coworkers were sent home before the tornado destroyed the candle factory.
“It’s still kind of hard for me to process all the emotions I’m feeling,” Holt said. “More so, I was so scared when it happened. The scariest thing ever. Nothing is ever going to compare to that.
“Now I’m just angry. This Friday, I’m pretty sure, everybody would have ran home if they said go home.”
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