Work Release Inmate Survives Kentucky Tornadoes, Turns Himself In

by Victoria Santiago
(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

An inmate on work release turned himself in after surviving the deadly tornado that hit a Mayfield, Kentucky candle factory. Francisco Starks, 44, miraculously survived the tornado that demolished the candle factory and left eight dead on Friday.

Starks is working off a burglary and car theft conviction at the Mayfield Consumer Products factory. Starks was lucky to survive the tornadoes but didn’t escape without injuries. He was taken to Jackson Purchase Medical Center to treat injuries to his neck, back, and legs. He walked away after being released from the medical center.

An alert was issued for Starks on Sunday by state police, asking if anyone knew where he was. Madison Leach, Stark’s lawyer, said that Stark never planned to escape after receiving treatment for his injuries. Leach said that the event was traumatizing for Stark, as he sustained injuries and saw those around him dying. She adds, “He didn’t escape jail. He escaped death.”

Leach took Stark to the Calloway County jail, where he turned himself in. “He had no idea what to do. Due to his injuries, when he reached out to me, I picked him [up] and took him to a jail in a nearby county for him to turn himself in.”

Candle Factory Workers Not Allowed to Leave During Tornadoes

Factory workers at the Mayfield Consumer Products factory are starting to speak out about their experience. As many as 15 workers asked to leave so they could take shelter at their homes. Their requests were denied. Some people left during their shift anyway, more scared of the tornado than losing their jobs. People asking to leave were reportedly told they would be fired if they left the building.

One factory worker spoke to NBC News about the tornadoes. McKayla Emery spoke up about workers being denied leave when the tornado sirens started going off. Emery said that managers told workers their jobs would be on the line if they wanted to leave.

Initially, workers were kept in the factory due to safety precautions, but even this did not go over smoothly. After staying in the hallways and bathrooms, workers were sent back out on the factory floor. Managers thought the danger from tornadoes had passed.

Another worker noted that in between emergency alarms, 15 or so people had asked to go home. The emergency alarms were spaced three to four hours apart. Although many people wanted to go home because of the dangerous weather, managers were insisting that leaving would result in getting fired. In an effort to reinforce workers staying, managers did roll calls to see who had stayed and who had left.

So far, the company has not released any comments regarding the threats of job loss.