Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Belleville Woman's Mother Is among Missing

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Belleville Woman's Mother Is among Missing

Article excerpt

In 12 years as an emergency worker in the family's ambulance business in Belleville, Michelle Sawyer has seen her share of trauma.

But she said nothing could prepare her for the news that her mother was missing after Wednesday's bombing in Oklahoma City.

Sawyer gleaned a few bits of information from an Army officer who was a few feet from her mother at the time of the blast. He had just turned away after discussing an assignment with the mother when the bomb went off.

"It forced him to his knees," Sawyer said. "He looked for her, but she was gone. There was rubble everywhere."

The Army officer said he had called her mother's name but got no answer, she said. "He located her desk. It was intact. He looked under it, but she was not there."

Firefighters came up to the fifth floor and tried to get him to leave, but he refused, insisting on helping with the search.

The only official information so far is that the mother, Dolores Stratton, 51, is one of five workers on the fifth-floor Army recruiting office who remained missing on Thursday.

"She's not in the morgue, and she's not in the hospital," Sawyer said. "The Red Cross said it would be tomorrow before they could tell us anything. We don't want to wait."

Sawyer, 29, her father, John Sawyer, and her brother, John Jr., 25, were making call after call Thursday, hoping someone could provide more information. Her father, who is divorced from her mother, and an uncle own Sawyer Brothers & Sons Ambulance Service in Belleville.

Their experience as ambulance operators has given them two bits of insight - one grim and one uplifting, Michelle Sawyer said.

On the grim side, "We know what comes out of a scene like that." At the same time, "I have the greatest respect for those emergency medical service crews and firefighters down there."

John Sawyer Sr. said Michelle had planned to fly to Oklahoma City to try to get more information, but the Red Cross had advised her to stay put. Missing 1-Year-Old

A similar situation is faced by relatives of Debra Smith of Marissa, Ill. …

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