Albany remembers the 1996 Olympic park bombing - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Albany remembers the 1996 Olympic Park bombing

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By Christian Jennings - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Many of you still clearly remember the day a bomb went off in Centennial Olympic Park during the 1996 Olympic games in Atlanta.

13 years ago, Alice Hawthorne of Albany became the victims of terrorism.

She was killed in a blast that injured 100 others at Centennial Park.

In our special report, WALB News 10's Christian Jennings takes us back to the tragic and unforgettable night of the Olympic Bombing.

It was the end of Day 8 of the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

And it seems the sights and sounds that were so vivid and fresh for spectators 13 years ago still resonate today.

"All of a sudden there was a tremendous boom," said Evans.

Marcus Evans, with the Georgia Peanut Commission, was working in Centennial Olympic Park during the games promoting peanuts.

"When I heard it I thought it was one of the speakers that blew up," he said.

But it wasn't a speaker. What Evans heard was an explosion, set off by a pipe bomb that blew hundreds of deadly nails and screws through the air.

He says he can still hear the screams.

"You could see people laying on the ground that were injured. Approximately 50-75 people that I saw over about a 2 acre area," he said. "We tried to help who we could."

A difficult task during chaos.  More than 100 people were injured in the blast.

One was killed, 44-year-old Alice Hawthorne of Albany.

"She was an exceptionally beautiful woman both inside and out." State Representative Winfred Dukes, an old friend of Alice, describes the woman he says was one of a kind.

"She was very energetic. When she walked into a room people were infected by her," he said smiling.

Alice Hawthorne grew up in Albany. A 1994 graduate of Albany State University and a hard-working mother, wife, and businesswoman.

In the months before her death, Hawthorne was Winfred Dukes' campaign manager.

On the day of her death, everyone on the campaign was headed to Atlanta to take part in the Olympic festivities.

Hawthorne and her 14-year-old daughter Fallon, left early. Dukes got in to Atlanta late.

"We came in and got some rest, and woke up in the middle of the night. The television was on and CNN was saying there was a bombing and someone had been seriously injured," he remembered.

Little did they know their friend was dead, killed by the bomb's blast. Her daughter Fallon was injured.

"It was just the last person we were thinking this would have happened to," Dukes told me.

In 2005 the Hawthornes got closure.  The Olympic bomber, Eric Rudolph pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison.

But a life behind bars won't bring back the life that was taken away so quickly.

"She really loved Albany, she really did. This was her place," said Dukes.

So today, we remember Alice Hawthorne. Who she was, and how she died. And we remember that unforgettable sound of terror, that will forever echo in the hearts and minds of people around the world.

Alice Hawthorne owned an ice cream shop in Albany that was named after her youngest daughter, Fallon. Fallon and her mother were celebrating her 14th birthday the night of the blast.

 


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