After surviving the Oklahoma City bombing, Laurence Martin decided to make the most of his second chance.
He dedicated the rest of his life to educating children. He had recently signed on to teach fifth-graders in a small community north of Oklahoma City and had just been honored with a national educators award.His second chance ended Sunday when the single-engine airplane he was piloting crashed just feet from a church, a few miles away from his destination, Wiley Post Airport in Oklahoma City.
Bill Powell, the principal of Martin's new school in Edmond, faced some tough questions from fifth-graders Monday. None was tougher than why a survivor of the federal building bombing could die in a plane crash.
"He was already endeared by the children. They thoroughly enjoyed him as a teacher," Powell said. "He had a good heart."
Martin, 41, a native of a Marion, Ind., was working at the U.S. Army recruiting office in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building when a truck bomb exploded outside on April 19, 1995.
Martin, an Army captain, later testified that the blast knocked him through a wall on the fourth floor of the building, leaving his right arm badly injured - looking like "spaghetti."
His testimony would help convict a fellow Army veteran, Timothy McVeigh, who was sentenced to death for masterminding the blast that killed 168 people. Terry Nichols was also convicted of the bombing. He got life in prison.
After leaving the Army, Martin went back to school to get his master's degree. He joined the Clegern Elementary School in August.
"He was demonstrative in making kids feel comfortable in the classroom," Powell said. "He made them work hard but made the learning a lot of fun."