Oklahoma: Recalling The Horror

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DENVER: “It was a thunder, boom sound,” Helene Garrett recalled Friday, one of the first nine witnesses testifying in the trial of Timothy McVeigh. “I screamed and everything started falling.” Even some reporters started crying during Garrett’s description of the last time she saw her infant son Tevin, at the daycare center in the Murrah federal building. Desperately looking for her son in the rubble, Garrett watched the rescue workers as “they carried out the babies, and they were wrapped in sheets.” Three days later, Tevin was found. “I kissed his feet, and I kissed his legs,” said his mother, “but I couldn’t go any further because they had shrouded the rest of his body. His head was crushed.” The graphic testimony had begun with a tape recording made by Cynthia Lou Klaver, an attorney who was conducting a hearing at the Water Resources Board when the bomb went off. As courtroom observers quietly listened to the first couple of minutes of tape, the droning sound of a mundane exchange was overwhelmed by the catastrophic explosion, followed by the screams of the victims and the sound of rubble falling. “We could see things coming down on us,” Klaver said. “We were all disoriented.” Michael Norfleet, a Marine fighter pilot, told of parking in front of the building moments before the explosion, a few cars ahead of the Ryder truck. When the bomb went off “it filleted my eye,” Norfleet recalled. Stumbling down six flights of stairs, now blind in his right eye and covered with deep lacerations, Norfleet found his way out of the rubble by following the trail of another victim’s blood, losing nearly half of his own by the time medical rescue workers got him into an ambulance. Throughout the day, Timothy McVeigh sat nearly expressionless, watching the witnesses, sometimes wincing slightly as they described the explosion. Testimony will resume on Monday with more graphic descriptions from victims and witnesses.