SWFL couple share story of daughter killed in Oklahoma City bombing 25 years later
Twenty-five years ago, a horrific act of domestic terrorism rocked the United States. The bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City killed 168 people.
WINK News Anchor Lois Thome was there to cover the tragedy in 1995, but it’s taken 25 years to tell one of the important stories from it — the story of a beautiful girl killed in a tragedy that changed our country as we know it.
“At that very moment, I really just felt we had an earthquake,” said
Sharon Coyne was working across the street from the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City when a truck loaded with a fertilizer bomb detonated.
Her and husband Scott Coyne’s daughter, 14-month-old Jaci, was on the second floor at a day care center, among the 168 people killed.
“She was a, she was a great kid,” Scott said. “She was super friendly, even as young as she was, so you really didn’t, hadn’t grown to know a stranger yet at that point in her life.”
We asked about a special ritual Jaci and her mom used to do together to start the day.
“I would get her dressed in the morning and do the itsy bitsy spider,” Sharon said. “So that she put her hands up, so I could put her hands in her little sleeves. And so I sang that every morning getting, getting her dressed. It was our little routine I did that morning as well.”
It was the morning their lives changed.
Scott and Sharon moved to Southwest Florida to escape the constant reminders of the tragedy, yet each year feel the weight of what they’ve lost.
“It still hits us really hard every year,” Sharon said. “And time is doing its job … It’s not as raw as it used to be, but there are times and as we build up to the anniversary, you know, things get tense.”
At the time of the bombing in 1995, the criminals responsible were upset about government overreach. Today we are seeing protests from people upset over government stay-at-home orders, the infringement of civil liberties. The similarities aren’t lost on the Coynes.
“The fact is Americans enjoy liberty and freedom, and I think that the fact that this anniversary is falling right in the middle of this pandemic is, fate maybe,” SHaron said. “I think that I would encourage people to go and watch the documentaries about how all of it came about, about the motivation of the perpetrators, just because they were frightened by what they thought was going to be taken away from them.”
“The extremists will take that to the next level. And I think that’s exactly what happened in Oklahoma,” Sharon said. “So I think that bringing up the historical aspects of the bombing is relevant right now, so that history doesn’t repeat itself.”
A memorial, on the site where the building once stood, contains 168 chairs to honor the victims. Jaci’s chair is there.
“It is so remarkable on so many different levels,” Sharon said. “It is so much more than a shrine to the fallen and the injured … Those chairs are in line based on where those folks were believed to be at the time of the bombing … It’s beautiful, truly beautiful.”
Jaci would be 26 years old if she were alive today. Her life, now that you know her story and her history will never be forgotten.
“And she didn’t get long enough to live, to leave a legacy,” Sharon said. “Except that she is one of many who are 100% truly innocent.”
After the tragedy the Coynes suffered, they were blessed with another child, who has grown into an adult and is the center of their world today.