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“It took my breath away,” Oklahoma City sergeant healing 20 years after memorable image of bombing aftermath

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OKLAHOMA CITY – When a bomb exploded in Oklahoma City 20 years ago, chaos ensued.

One of the first responders to the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995 was Sgt. John Avera.

Avera has since retired from the Oklahoma City Police Department.

However, that day remains with him.

“Every time I looked at the pictures it took my breath away. I couldn’t believe the building was damaged that much,” Avera wrote.

Avera became one of the faces of the tragedy after a photographer captured him in the aftermath of the bomb.

The now famous photo shows Avera carrying Baylee Almon out of the rubble and into the arms of an awaiting rescuer, Chris Fields.

Tragically, Baylee didn’t survive.

Avera met with Baylee’s family the next day.

“They were thanking us for getting their baby out of the building so quickly,” he wrote. “This was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life.”

“The following days and weeks now seem kind of blurred, I remember them but not in too much detail. I just remember feeling worthless and not being able to do anything with the others at the building,” Avera wrote.

For 10 years, Avera did not do any interviews.

However, he recently sat down with NewsChannel 4’s Linda Cavanaugh to speak about the events of that day and what has changed in 20 years.

You will be able to see Avera’s story on KFOR at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 17.

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