Rebecca Cryer, a 73-year-old tribal judge who was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for her role in rescuing members of the Cherokee Nation during the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, died at a hospital in Oklahoma City on Friday, the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs said on Monday.
Ms. Cryer, an elected tribal judge on the Oglala Sioux Tribe of South Dakota, was among the first to reach the bomb site on April 19, 1995, and offer first aid to the victims, many of whom were Native Americans.
The courtroom bombing, which exploded in an explosion and fire that leveled the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, killed 168 people and injured hundreds more.
Ms. Cryer was a first lieutenant in the Army Reserve, and went to Oklahoma City with her husband, Wayne, a nursing home administrator, as part of a memorial service. They later met survivors and first responders at a ceremony to establish a memorial for the victims.
Sue Humphreys, an aide to Representative Jim Ryun, a Republican from Kansas, told The New York Times in 2015 that Ms. Cryer was there because she had just finished working at the arena for the 18th Annual Kansas Band of the Cherokee Nation.
“She left her case, her shoes and her rings,” Ms. Humphreys said. “A few minutes later she was at the doorway, bent over, picking up victims. She was the first one in the door.”
“I remember the fire department telling me to stay in the room and get the witnesses, but it was a case of ‘Go in and start helping people,’” Ms. Cryer told the Associated Press at the time. “I guess you could say I followed my heart. I guess it was an instinct.”
In 2014, she announced that she was planning to retire from tribal government service.