2 Companies Had 1 Goal: Keep Murrah Building Safe For Rescuers


Thursday, April 9th 2020, 1:57 pm
By: Bobbie Miller


They were two companies with one goal: to keep the Murrah Building safe for rescuers in the hours after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. Crews from Midwest Wrecking and Allied Steel joined together to take on a job they will never forget.

News 9's Bobbie Miller shares their stories 25 years later.

"I have a lot more than granite in my heart to think about, but granite was something my kids could look at and hold even after I'm gone," said Randy Sudik with Allied Steel Company.

Sudik kept a piece of granite from his time working at the bombing site. He was one of a team of hardhats who worked to rescue victims minutes after the explosion.

"You could barely see with the smoke and vehicles on fire. We had two-way radios in our vehicles, and I called the office and told our dispatchers, 'Get ready. We're going to need our cranes,'" he said.

Sudik stayed for the next 36 hours, and he wasn't alone.

Chris Kates with the Midwest Wrecking Company was a college student at Oklahoma State. He had turned 20 just days before the bombing, and he quickly grew up behind 20-ton equipment working for his father's team.

"I worked the night shift. Anything that was needed, anything I was told to do is what I did," he said.

Kates said it was a tough job emotionally.

"Once they found the last bodies under that pile, it was just that everyone was accounted for," Kates said. "That was an emotional time for me."

Working massive machines in a gingerly fashion to be careful, these seasoned crane operators worked this site like none before it.

"We just had to slow down. We had spotters who knew where the bodies were to tell you 'here or there,'" said Keven Sallee with Midwest Wrecking Company.

The rescue operation then turned to recovering evidence, and it ended with demolition.

Sudik said it was good to see the building gone.

"We were tired of looking at it for sure," he said.

And that's when they moved in to break up the slabs of concrete that used to be the floors and walls of the building. A track loader and excavator carried away the debris pile.

"For me, it was a reaction of relief. It has been a long, hard-fought struggle to get to the point we are. To get it down and be done with. That's the best thing for us," Ben Kates said nearly 25 years ago.

Ben was the owner of Midwest Wrecking at the time, and his son, Chris, is now at the helm. He's still surrounded by the best-of-the-best, all of whom can't help but remember.

"We've done every remodel job down there, and we're fortunate for that. But actually going through the museum, that's when it hits me personally," Sallee said.