Oklahoma City bombing survivors find ‘beauty in the ashes’

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OKLAHOMA CITY — Four stories of triumph over tragedy are coming together for the first time in a feature film about the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

Dr. Raymund King was in the middle of a glass sky bridge that connected the parking garage to the hospital when the bomb went off.

“The shock wave shook the bridge. I thought that a truck was driving underneath it and collided underneath the bridge. So I’m peering over, I don’t see anything and I look in front of me, in front of the buildings, the buildings behind the buildings, and you could see gray white smoke billowing from there,” said Dr. King. “So I went on into the hospital onto the third floor, where my clinic was, and I turned on the TV in the waiting room and they had a helicopter view of the Murrah Center.”

As Dr. King recalls the horror and the shock, he said the images are hard to forget.

"What really struck me the most was how quiet it was. People were coming in like zombies and there was glass everywhere. One gentleman came to me, he had a blood soaked towel on his face,” Dr. King said. “Apparently, he was standing in a building across the street from the Murrah center. He had his back to the window. The force of the explosion had, essentially, cut his scalp, lifted it up and flipped it over his face.”

It was a moment that changed his life forever.

Aren Almon Kok was dropping her daughter, Baylee, off at the Murrah building’s daycare center that tragic morning.

“I took my daughter there and I felt like she was safe and I felt that I was doing the right thing. But I mean, she wasn’t safe,” Aren Almon Kok said.

After the bomb went off, Kok immediately rushed to Alfred P. Murrah Building to look for Baylee.

“Even the day I went down there to look for Baylee, the policeman that was standing there, I was like, 'I'm looking for my daughter. She was in the day care center.'  And he was like, 'Well, there wasn't a day care center in there.' And I'm like, 'Yeah, there was,” Kok said.” I remember that day and I remember feeling like I was in a war zone.”

When a photographer captured a picture of Oklahoma City Fire Captain Chris Fields carrying Baylee, who didn’t survive the explosion, Kok faced the ultimate test of strength.

“To me and my family, that picture is a representation of everybody there that died that day,” Kok said.

Just like Kok, Fields was forever changed that day.

“For me, I didn’t just work that day and go back to the fire station and life went on,” Chris Fields, a retired captain of the Oklahoma City Fire Department, told News 4.

He can still remember exactly how it looked after the bomb went off.

“There was a lot of walking wounded. I think just the overall scene was something you never picture in your mind,” Fields said. “We just don’t want people to forget.”

On April 19, 1995, Daina Bradley was at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal building with her mother and children.

“I looked at the clock and it was exactly 9:02 before everything went dark for me,” Daina Bradley said.

Bradley was trapped beneath the rubble after the bomb went off. Doctors had to amputate her leg right there on the scene.

"This is something that happened in my life that will never go away in my mind,” Bradley told News 4.

Bradley’s mother and children did not survive the attack.

“Losing my kids and my mother, you know. I was 19 when that happened,” Bradley said.

Two years after the attack, Bradley testified in a Denver courtroom that she saw Timothy McVeigh get out of the Ryder truck moments before the bombing.

"I was speaking for every bombing victim that couldn't speak out. The anger, the outrage about how it was presented in court. How he could just sit there and just smile and smirk and think it's funny. No, it wasn't cute and it wasn't funny,” Bradley said.

These four Oklahomans, all broken by the pain, learned how to deal with tragedy.

Combining his love for medicine and serving others, Dr. King applied for law school about a week after the bombing, later opening his own firm.

Kok became a spokesperson for the Protecting People First Foundation. She brought ‘Baylee’s Law’ to Congress, which requires that parents receive information about safety measures and the government agencies that are inside federal buildings that include a daycare.

“I was like, there are so many people that we invite people into federal buildings and places like that and we're not protecting them like we should,” Kok said.

April 19 was just the beginning of a series of personal trials and a test of faith for Fields.

"We focus so much on the physical aspect of the job, being in shape physically and all of that, but I think the mental aspect of the job gets overlooked sometimes and the toll it takes on first responders and their families,” Fields said.

Fields went on to speak to first responders about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and how to cope with the mental toll the job can take.

"I still have friends who are retired and they tell me they still have nightmares about the bombing,” Fields said.

Now a film will explore the victims' stories about that horrific day in Oklahoma history.

“I think the film is about number one, the resiliency of the human spirit, but also how grace plays an important part in life,” Dr. King said.

'Beauty for Ashes' centers around the hardships and the beauty that blossomed from the tragedy.

"It doesn't sensationalize at all, anything, about the bombing. It's not about conspiracy theories,” said Dr. King. “It's not about anything other than forgiveness and grace and the setting just happens to be the Oklahoma City bombing.”

You can find more information about the upcoming film at the Beauty for Ashes website.

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