Doctor's Decision At Murrah Building Changed Lives Of 2 People


Monday, April 13th 2020, 8:35 am
By: News 9


A local doctor faced the most harrowing decision of his career some 25 years ago amid the rubble inside the Murrah Building. The rubble had pinned a woman, and the only way to get her out was to amputate her leg - with his pocket knife.

That moment changed them both.

They've been reunited to tell their stories 25 years later.

As first-responders went in search of survivors, they began to hear the screams of a young woman. The frantic voice was coming from what was once the first floor of the Social Security Administration office.

"Somebody heard me, and they said, 'Keep screaming!' I said, 'I'm over here! I'm over here! I'm over here! and they finally came and started digging the rocks out, and they found me," said survivor Daina Bradley.

But finding the 20-year-old would prove to be the easy part.

When she was found, she had a piece of rebar running through her leg.

"I didn't feel anything. There was cold water coming up from the busted pipes, which was freezing. I was in no pain; I was in shock," Bradley said.

She says it was in those moments that she knew her world had changed. You see: she hadn't gone to the federal building alone.

Bradley had brought her mother, Cheryl Hammon, along with her 3-year-old daughter Peachlyn and 3-month-old baby boy Gabreon. They were there to get him a Social Security card. Her sister had joined them as well, and she survived.

But Bradley said when she couldn't hear the voices of her mom or two babies, she knew they were gone.

"You have this perfect life, and all of sudden, someone decides to just wipe it away from you," she said.

Meanwhile, at OU Medical Center, Dr. Andy Sullivan, who was the chairman of orthopedics at the time, got a call from one of his colleagues.

"Dr. Tuggle had gotten through on a Civil Defense phone and said there's a lady that the only way we could save her was to amputate her leg," Sullivan said.

So, he quickly grabbed some tools and a rope.

"I knew what I was going to do, and I guess there was some trepidation -- but not really, a lot of adrenaline," Sullivan said.

What did Bradley remember of her encounter with Dr. Sullivan?

"Yes, he said, 'Honey, the only way to get you out is we're going to have to cut your leg off. I said, 'Do it. Whatever gets me out of here, you do it,'" she recounted.

All of a sudden, rescuers had to evacuate because it was believed there might have been a second bomb in the building.

"So we ran and had to leave her there, and she was screaming," Sullivan said.

"And I was like, 'Please don't leave me. Please don't leave me,' and the guy was crying. It's very hard. I just saw the look on his face, and just as well, I know I'm in my situation. My heart went out because I knew he wanted to do something. He wanted to get me out of there, but he couldn't," Bradley said.

But once the all-clear was given, Dr. Sullivan made his way back inside.

However, his emergency tools started to fail. So he reached for his pocket knife.

"It was the only alternative I had," Sullivan said. "Fortunately, I had it with me. I don't know what I would have done because the blades would break and get dull and just wouldn't cut."

"Dr. Sullivan did his job. I told him what to do. 'Cut it off.' By all means, do what you have to do to get me out of here," Bradley said.

And that he did, with a knife now displayed in the OKC National Memorial Museum.

News 9 has kept up with Bradley over the years, such as when she got her first prosthetic and when she spoke publicly for the first time.

"I tried to be strong, but some days I can't because a piece of a puzzle of my life is gone," she said.

Dr. Sullivan and Bradley have seen each other periodically over the last quarter-century. But Sullivan said this time was different.

"Honestly? She looks better than I've ever seen her," he said, adding a "You look great!" toward Bradley.

Her reply?

"Thanks! I feel great. I'm getting myself back healthy."

But Bradley acknowledged that some days it's really tough.

"Some days, it's hard to talk to people. I stay at home in my house by myself. Some days, I'm OK. I go out and talk to people. You live day by day. Take a deep breath, and just know that it's going to be alright," she said.

As for Dr. Sullivan, he's taken what he's learned 25 years ago to teach other medical professionals what to do in field amputations. He still sees patients and teaches once a week at OU Medicine.

And he's glad he made that decision 25 years ago -- to put his own life at risk to save another.