Blind Hero of the Oklahoma City Bombing Dies

Raymond Washburn, who led 5 to safety, died Jan. 16 at age 75
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 26, 2022 7:54 AM CST
Blind Hero of the Oklahoma City Bombing Dies
Alfred Murrah Federal Building car bomb explosion survivor Raymond Washburn poses for a picture at his home in Oklahoma City, in 1995.   (Steve Sisney/The Oklahoman via AP)

(Newser) – Raymond Washburn, a blind man who was credited with helping rescue five people from the rubble of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building following the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, has died, per the AP. He was 75. Washburn died on Jan. 16 at his home in Oklahoma City, and funeral services were held for him Friday in Bristow, about 70 miles northeast of the city. His cousin Richard Wittman told KWTV in Oklahoma City that he was proud of Washburn not only for what he did on the day of the bombing, but for how he lived his entire life. "So, in that sense, he was a hero in the way he was able to function, make his way in life, work, his everyday life," Wittman said. Washburn owned and operated a snack bar on the fourth floor of the building when a truck bomb ripped through the structure on April 19, 1995, killing 168 people.

Four customers and an employee were in the snack bar when the blast occurred. In an interview recorded for the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, Washburn described how he led his customers and employee out of his snack bar. "I had the advantage over them because (of) not being able to see. I felt like that you know, this is one time that you know you want to try to help somebody as much as you can. I knew how to get out. I just didn't know what was going to be in our way," said Washburn, a member of the Yuchi Tribe in Oklahoma. Princella Smith, one of Washburn's friends, said during his funeral that his heart "illuminated the darkness" on the day of the bombing and helped lead people to safety. "He told them to march, and march down this stairwell. He said, 'You gotta come on. We gotta get out of here,'" Smith said.

(Read more Oklahoma City bombing stories.)

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