BOMBING survivors, victims' families prepare to gather to watch broadcast of McVeigh execution - - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - |

BOMBING survivors, victims' families prepare to gather to watch broadcast of McVeigh execution

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Before dawn Monday, the people Timothy McVeigh hurt most will awake, wondering how they will feel when he closes his eyes for the last time.

They will meet at 4 a.m. in a parking lot near Will Rogers World Airport, three hours before the execution of the man who blew up the Oklahoma City federal building and killed 168 of their relatives and friends.

Federal marshals will guard their cars as they board vans for the nearby Federal Transfer Center.

Some 300 survivors and bombing victims' relatives will sit in front of a wide screen to watch McVeigh's execution through a secure, closed-circuit broadcast from a federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., where he will be given a lethal injection.

Tom Kight says he will get up at 2 a.m., have some coffee and maybe a doughnut before getting in his 1972 Oldsmobile and driving down dark, nearly empty city streets to the parking lot.

There he'll meet Jannie Coverdale and Kathy Wilburn, who, like him, lost loved ones in the April 19, 1995, attack. Kight lost his stepdaughter, who left behind a daughter. Coverdale and Wilburn lost grandsons in the federal building's daycare center.

``There'll be three grandparents sitting together, me, Jannie and Kathy,'' he said Friday.

Kight said he doesn't know what to expect when McVeigh is dead.

``I've heard some people kind of plan to celebrate and that's up to every individual,'' he said. ``I certainly plan no celebration.''

After the execution, witnesses will file out of the viewing room and Kight will go back to his car _ bypassing the assembled media _ to drive to the bombing memorial.

``It's kind of a safe haven for us,'' he said. ``We've become quite a big family. We're pretty supportive of one another. We don't always agree on every issue, but when the chips are down we're there for one another.''

Wilburn doesn't expect watching McVeigh die to affect her much. Then again, she didn't think watching the implosion of the Alfred P. Murrah building about a month after the bombing would hurt her.

``It just brought back everything,'' she said, recalling how she buried her face in her hands at the sound of the detonation and sobbed. ``I was just bawling. I'm not sure how I'll react Monday.

``He is just going to lay down and go to sleep. He's the only one who gets to sleep in.''

As execution day approached, more visitors poured through the gates of the Oklahoma City National Memorial in downtown Oklahoma City. Memorial officials said 1,200 people visit each day on average.

Paul Heath, a bombing survivor, was at the memorial Thursday passing out copies of a poem McVeigh is expected to recite before he dies. He wants other survivors and victims' relatives to know what to expect Monday morning.

The poem, written by an Englishman who died in 1903, begins, ``Out of the night that covers me, black as the pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be for my unconquerable soul.''

It ends with, ``I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.''

``I want to understand everything I can about him,'' Heath said. ``Being a psychologist, it's my nature to understand human behavior and criminal behavior.''

But Heath said he has no need to see McVeigh die and plans to spend the morning at the memorial, unless another bombing survivor asks him to attend the closed-circuit broadcast for support.

``I forgave Mr. McVeigh within three months after the bombing for what he attempted to do to me personally,'' he said. ``It's not my place to forgive him for what he did to others.''
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