Magazine article Newsweek

Survivor: 'All I Saw Were Bright lights.'(Daina Bradley Survives the Oklahoma City Bombing)

Magazine article Newsweek

Survivor: 'All I Saw Were Bright lights.'(Daina Bradley Survives the Oklahoma City Bombing)

Article excerpt

DAINA BRADLEY WAS TRYING to beat the crowds when she headed to the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19. Bradley, 20, needed a new Social Security card for her 4-month-old son, Gabreon. So she started early and brought along a lot of help. Her mother, Cheryl, saved a place in line and sister Felysha minded Gabreon and his 3-year-old sister, Peachlyn, while Daina filled out the paperwork. That's how the family happened to be together at 9 a.m. in the glass-walled Social Security office on the first floor, along with dozens of others going about their daily business. Then the bomb went off.

Bradley is perhaps the best-known survivor of Oklahoma City; rescuers had to amputate her leg to save her from the rubble. Though she was in the middle of the explosion that rocked the country, she heard nothing. "It happened so quickly. All I saw were bright lights," Bradley told Newsweek. "Then I felt my body lifting. I was screaming for help: `Mom, help me! Mom, it hurts!'" The floor collapsed, and Bradley slid to the basement. She could hear her children scream. Then she heard a series of loud, echoing crashes as the nine stories of the Murrah building pancaked on top of each other--and on top of her.

She doesn't know how long she lay there. Though she felt no pain, she could hear the agonizing sounds of her sister moaning, "Help me ... Help." Lying in a pool of frigid water with her left arm pinned behind her head and her right leg trapped under a slab of concrete, Bradley, too, cried out in the pitch-black basement. "I was conscious the whole time," she says, "but I couldn't feel anything." A few hours after the explosion, she realized rescue workers were near when she heard Felysha wailing as they moved her broken body out of the rubble.

When the rescuers finally reached Bradley, she saw that falling debris had boxed her into a coffin-size cave. …

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