Tornado victims include 2-month-old, district judge, a father and son, factory and warehouse workers

"I'm going to miss her crying in the middle of the night," baby's father said.

December 14, 2021, 6:26 PM

As search crews continue to locate and identify victims of the devastating tornadoes that ripped through hundreds of miles across multiple states this weekend, the names of some of the victims are starting to emerge.

At least 88 people have been confirmed dead across five states, 74 in western Kentucky alone, and the death toll could rise "significantly," according to Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear.

Among those killed were workers at a candle factory in Mayfield, Kentucky, and at an Amazon distribution center in Edwardsville, Illinois. Also killed was a Kentucky district court judge and a corrections officer from Graves County, Kentucky.

Deaths also occurred in Tennessee, Missouri and Arkansas.

PHOTO: Laura Croft searches through debris near the location where her mother and aunt were found deceased after tornadoes ripped through several states, in downtown Dawson Springs, Ky., Dec. 13, 2021.
Laura Croft searches through debris near the location where her mother and aunt were found deceased after tornadoes ripped through several states, in downtown Dawson Springs, Ky., Dec. 13, 2021.
Jon Cherry/Reuters

The victims ranged from a baby to grandparents, a father and son, and a 94-year-old Korean War veteran.

Here are just some of their stories:

2-month-old Oaklynn Koon

The youngest to die in the tornadoes was Oaklynn Koon, who at just 2 months old already had an infectious smile and bubbly personality, her family said.

"At least I know who will be watching over you up there for me. My dad. God this doesn't seem real," Douglas Koon wrote on Facebook in a tribute to his little girl.

PHOTO: Oaklynn Koon is pictured in a 2021 family photo.
Oaklynn Koon is pictured in a 2021 family photo.
Courtesy Douglas Koon

Oaklynn died from her injuries on Monday at Norton Children's Hospital in Louisville.

Douglas Koon said that 15 minutes before a tornado struck on Friday night, he moved his wife and three children from their mobile home to his mother-in-law's home in Dawson Springs, Kentucky, because he thought it would be safer there. He said he and his family were hunkered down in a bathroom with Oaklynn still strapped in her car seat when the twister hit and sucked them all out of the house.

"Thrown up and thrown down, and twisted around," Koon told ABC affiliate station WHAS in Louisville. "It feels like somebody is just hitting you with baseball bats and kicking you, throwing stuff at you."

He said that in the immediate aftermath of the twister, he was helping to untangle his mother-in-law from debris when he heard Oaklynn crying in the distance.

"I ran over there and I found the car seat and Oaklynn was just lying there crying," Koon recalled.

He said his daughter seemed fine at first, but doctors later found she suffered a traumatic brain injury and was bleeding internally. He and his wife, Jackie, made the agonizing decision Monday morning to remove her from life-support, saying, "I didn't want her to suffer any longer."

"Then my world got flipped upside down again," Koon said. "It was like I was in the tornado all over again."

Although she was just an infant, Koon said there are so many things he will miss about Oaklynn.

"I'm going to miss her crying in the middle of the night, waking me up," he said. "I'm going to miss her wanting not to be put down, wanting her daddy and mommy to hold her. I'm just going to miss her in general."

Steve Gunn, Jr., 50, and Grayson Gunn, 12

Steve Gunn Jr. and his 12-year-old son, Grayson, were on an annual hunting trip to Central Tennessee when a tornado ripped through the resort they were staying at, killing them both, relatives said.

PHOTO: Steve Gunn, Jr. (top, left,) are pictured with his family in an undated image. Steve Gunn, Jr., 50, and his son Grayson, 12 (also pictured, bottom, left,) died when a tornado hit the resort where they were staying in Tiptonville, Tenn.
Steve Gunn, Jr. (top, left,) are pictured with his family in an undated image. Steve Gunn, Jr., 50, and his son Grayson, 12 (also pictured, bottom, left,) died when a tornado hit the resort where they were staying in Tiptonville, Tenn.
Blaine Gunn

Blaine Gunn said her husband and son were from Tallahassee, Florida, and were at the Cypress Point Resort in Tiptonville, Tennessee, on a family duck hunting trip when disaster struck.

"Those were my entire world, and now I am left alone in a house that we just bought," Blaine Gunn said in a statement to ABC News. "They were the most amazing, phenomenal people in the world."

Annistyn Rackley, 9

Annistyn Rackley was a budding cheerleader and the 9-year-old recently participated in a cheerleading competition in Arizona, her family said.

She was killed Friday night when a tornado slammed into her home in Caruthersville, Missouri, as she, her parents, Trey and Meghan Rackley, and her sisters, Avalinn, 7, and Lani, 3, sought shelter in the windowless bathroom of the residence they just moved into a week ago, relatives told the Associated Press.

PHOTO: Annistyn Rackley, 9, poses for a picture while attending a cheerleading competition in Arizona.
Annistyn Rackley, 9, poses for a picture while attending a cheerleading competition in Arizona. Rackley, who loved swimming, dancing and cheerleading, was among dozens of people who died in the tornadoes, Dec. 10, 2021. A tornado hit her home and splintered it less than a week after the family had moved in, according to a relative.
Meghan Rackley/Courtesy of Sandra Hooker via AP

Annistyn's aunt, Sandra Hooker, told the AP that the family's home was left in splinters and Annistyn, her parents and siblings were found by first responders yards away in a muddy field.

The rest of Annistyn's family members were injured but survived, Hooker said.

Hooker described Annistyn as a "special angel," who overcame a rare liver condition when she was younger. She said the third-grader was outgoing and energetic, and loved to swim and dance.

"I would just gasp because she could do the splits all the time, and she would just laugh," Hooker said. "She loved dancing."

Golden Wes Hembrey, 94

Golden Wes Hembrey is believed to be the oldest person to die in the multi-state natural disaster when a tornado plowed through the Monette Manor nursing home in Monette, Arkansas, on Friday night, his family told ABC News.

According to his obituary published on the website of Howard Funeral Services in Leachville, Arkansas, Hembrey was born in Mt. Vernon, Arkansas and raised in Arbyrd, Missouri. He was a retired farmer, according to the obituary.

PHOTO: Golden Hembrey is pictured in an undated image. Hembrey, a 94 Korean War vet, died from injuries he sustained when a tornado hit Monette Manor nursing home in Monette, Ark., Dec. 12, 2021.
Golden Hembrey is pictured in an undated image. Hembrey, a 94 Korean War vet, died from injuries he sustained when a tornado hit Monette Manor nursing home in Monette, Ark., Dec. 12, 2021.
Jimmie Hembrey

Hembrey was a U.S. Army veteran of the Korean War. He was preceded in death by his wife, Virginia Garrett, and is survived by two brothers, according to the obituary.

A funeral service for Hembrey is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon in Leachville and he is expected to be buried with military honors, according to the obituary.

Judge Brian Crick, 43

Kentucky District Court Judge Brian Crick, who served in McLean and Muhlenberg counties, was a former public defender who ascended to the bench in 2011 and was known for ensuring that the rights of defendants who came before him without an attorney were protected, according to his colleagues.

PHOTO: In this photo released by the Kentucky Court of Justice, District Judge Brian Crick, who died during the recent tornado outbreak in Western Kentucky, is shown.
In this photo released by the Kentucky Court of Justice, District Judge Brian Crick, who died during the recent tornado outbreak in Western Kentucky, is shown.
Kentucky Court of Justice

"He was very level-headed about how to handle cases and how to talk to people," Kentucky Circuit Court Judge Brian W. Wiggins told the Associated Press. "He was just a consummate family man ... very engaged with his children and his wife. They were number one to him."

Crick, 43, who had a private law practice before becoming a judge, is survived by his wife and three children.

"We are especially heartbroken to get the news," Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice John Minton said of Crick in a statement. "This is a shocking loss to his family, his community and the court system and his family is in our prayers."

Robert Daniel, 47

Robert Daniel, a corrections officer for the Graves County Jail in Kentucky, died a hero, his family said.

The 47-year-old Daniel was supervising work-release inmates at the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory in Mayfield when he was killed.

PHOTO: Robert Daniel, a corrections officer for Graves County Jail and Restricted Custody Center, was supervising work-release inmates at Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory in Mayfield, Ky., when it was hit by a tornado. He died of his injuries.
Robert Daniel is pictured in an image provided by his family. Daniel, age 47, has been identified as one of those who perished when the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory was heavily damaged by a tornado in Mayfield, Ky. Graves was a corrections officer for the Graves County Jail and Restricted Custody Center, and was supervising work-release inmates at candle factory.
Robyn Stubblefield

Graves County Jailer George Workman said in a Facebook post that Daniel was supervising seven inmates Friday night when a twister destroyed the factory. Workman said the inmates Daniel was overseeing reported that he ushered them into a room and had them shelter against a wall when he was killed.

Workman said Daniel "gave his precious life while physically ensuring that his seven inmates were moved into a safe location, from which they all survived."

Daniel is survived by six children and seven grandchildren, his family told ABC News.

"Robert was a very hard working man who did his best to instill those values into his children. He made sure they knew they were loved," Robyn Stubblefield, mother of two of Daniel’s children, told ABC News. "It makes them so proud to know their daddy died a hero. I personally would like to thank everyone for the love they have shown them as they try to figure out how to live in a world that he is no longer in."

Etheria Hebb, 34

Etheria Hebb was one of six workers killed at an Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois.

Hebb, the mother of a 1-year-old from St. Louis, was loading trucks at the warehouse and had sought shelter in a bathroom when a tornado hit, a coworker told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

PHOTO: Etheria Hebb is shown in this undated photo.
Etheria Hebb is shown in this undated photo.
Tiara Hebb

"We were just standing there talking. That's when we heard the noise. It felt like the floor started moving. We all got closer to each other. We all started screaming," Jaeira Hargrove, 33, told the newspaper.

Hargrove said she and Hebb were both knocked to the ground as the ceiling collapsed on them. She said she cried out for Hebb, but her colleague did not respond.

Larry Virden, 46

Larry Virden was a driver at the Edwardsville Amazon facility and was returning to the warehouse when he was killed by the tornado, his daughter told ABC News.

PHOTO: Larry Virden is pictured in an image provided by his family. Virden, age 46, has been identified as one of those who perished while working at an Amazon fulfillment center which was heavily damaged by a tornado in Edwardsville, Ill.
Larry Virden is pictured in an image provided by his family. Virden, age 46, has been identified as one of those who perished while working at an Amazon fulfillment center which was heavily damaged by a tornado in Edwardsville, Ill.
Justice Virden

"I walked out of that building after they told me my dad was gone, and I dropped to my knees and screamed at the sky at the top of my lungs," Justice Virden told ABC News' Rob Marciano on "Good Morning America."

"I said, 'No, my daddy is coming home," she said. "I said I need my daddy. He can't leave."

Kevin Dickey, 62

Kevin Dickey, 62, was working as a dispatcher at the Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville when he was killed, his family said.

In a statement, Dickey's family described him as a loving family man and grandfather.

PHOTO: Kevin Dickey is pictured in an image provided by his family. Dickey, age 62, has been identified as one of those who perished while working at an Amazon fulfillment center which was heavily damaged by a tornado in Edwardsville, Ill.
Kevin Dickey is pictured in an image provided by his family. Dickey, age 62, has been identified as one of those who perished while working at an Amazon fulfillment center which was heavily damaged by a tornado in Edwardsville, Ill.
Dickey Family

"We are devastated at the toll this natural disaster has taken on our community and the entire Midwest. Our hearts are with the other families who have also lost loved ones," Dickey's family wrote in their statement.

"We want to thank first responders for their efforts as well as the other heroes who were on the scene to help others get to safety. Dad talked often about his coworkers and their daily stories, he had a great bond with many," the family said. "Dad was a kind man that loved spending time with his family. He stole the show and hearts of his grandchildren anytime he was around. He will be truly missed. We have lost a very special person."

Clayton Cope, 29

Clayton Cope was a 29-year-old U.S. Navy veteran who also died at the Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, his family said.

Cope worked as a maintenance mechanic along with his father at the facility. His mother, Carla Cope, said he would have celebrated his 30th birthday on Dec. 27.

PHOTO: Clayton Cope is pictured in an undated imagey. Cope, age 29, has been identified as one of those who perished while working at an Amazon fulfillment center which was heavily damaged by a tornado in Edwardsville, Ill., Dec. 12, 2021.
Clayton Cope is pictured in an undated image. Cope, age 29, has been identified as one of those who perished while working at an Amazon fulfillment center which was heavily damaged by a tornado in Edwardsville, Ill., Dec. 12, 2021.

"He was a really good kid," Carla Cope told CNN. "He loved to hang out with his friends. He was big-hearted; he would do anything for anybody."

She said her son served six years in the Navy working as a calibration specialist on aircraft carriers.

Devon Burton, 21

Devon Burton was one of at least eight people killed at the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory, his mother, Elizabeth Cunningham, confirmed to ABC News.

PHOTO: Devon Burton is pictured in an image provided by his family. Burton, age 21, has been identified as one of those who perished while working at the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory, which was heavily damaged by a tornado in Mayfield, Ky.
Devon Burton is pictured in an image provided by his family. Burton, age 21, has been identified as one of those who perished while working at the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory, which was heavily damaged by a tornado in Mayfield, Ky.
Denise Cunningham

Cunningham shared photos with ABC News of her son, showing them posing together at his high school graduation and with loved ones at home.

"My baby… I can't believe I lost my precious baby boy... I don't know how to deal," Cunningham wrote in a Facebook post.

Lannis 'Joe' Ward, 36

Lannis "Joe" Ward also died at the candle factory, where he began working just a few weeks ago, his girlfriend, Autumn Kirks, said.

Autumn Kirks said she and her boyfriend both worked at the factory. But while she was rescued, Ward lost his life along with seven other coworkers.

PHOTO: Lannis "Joe" Ward, left, is pictured in an image provided by his family. Ward, age 36, has been identified as one of those who died while working at the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory, which was damaged by a tornado in Mayfield, Ky.
Lannis "Joe" Ward, left, is pictured in an image provided by his family. Ward, age 36, has been identified as one of those who perished while working at the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory, which was heavily damaged by a tornado in Mayfield, Ky.
Autumn Kirk

Back in March, Kirks wrote of Ward on her Facebook page, saying, "Let me tell y'all something, this man is amazing!!!!"

"Chivalry is not dead. He loves me and I love him," she wrote. "He may not be perfect, but he's perfect to me. I love you Lannis Ward with all my heart."

ABC News' Victoria Arancio, Linsey Davis, Brian Hartman, Will McDuffie, Marcus Moore, Ivan Pereira, Victor Oquendo and Emily Shapiro contributed to this report.

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