Video: Bombing survivor's story

By Correspondent
NBC News
updated 4/18/2005 7:27:02 PM ET 2005-04-18T23:27:02

In the 10 years since the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah building here in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, the survivors have had to struggle with the trauma of that horrific experience. As one might expect, some are doing better than others.

The spouse of one survivor is still struggling with an intense fear of anything connected to the bombing — such as the bomb site memorial, or a random Ryder truck driving down the street. Timothy McVeigh delivered the bomb that killed 168 men, women and children in a Ryder truck.           

Fran Ferrari is another victim of the blast. She is the woman whose image has been replayed thousands of times — coming out of the rubble in a chair with blood all over her face and upper body. She was sitting at her desk in the Journal-Record building across the street from where the bomb exploded.

As rescue workers carried her out Ferrari says she thought she'd suffered a stroke. She could feel her life slipping away.           

"I kept trying to stay conscious," Ferrari explains, "because then that meant I was going to stay alive. I wasn't going to give in. This wasn't my time to go."

Not a victim, but a survivor
She suffered extensive injuries, requiring 10 years of intensive physical and psychological therapy and surgery. But nothing marked her recovery better than riding a horse.           

Ferrari used to ride horses regularly before the bombing. After the bombing, she gave it up. Over the years her horse died and Ferrari says she made some crucial decisions.

"I don't consider myself a victim, I'm a survivor," she says.

In December 2002 she married Mike Brake, an aide to former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating, who she met at a gathering of bomb survivors. They were married under the survivor tree at the bomb site.

Getting back in the saddle
She got a new job and this year she made her last monumental decision. She bought a new horse, Shamus, and began to ride again after 10 years.

"I'm real self-conscious after getting back after so many years. I do have some balance problems, some sight problems," she says. But she's getting comfortable in the saddle again.

"It's been great to see her get out there and say, 'I can do this again,'" says Brake. "Last week she rode in a little practice competition. She didn't win but she took her sixth place ribbon and said, 'Hey, look what I did.'"

Fran Ferrari says she's learned to cope with the trauma of 10 years ago by deciding the bombing is part of who she is and she will deal with it everyday.

As for closure? 

"I think the day they close my casket or put the lid on my urn, that will be closure for me," she says.

Jim Cummins is the NBC News Dallas Bureau Chief and lead Correspondent.


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