Centennial Olympic Park bombing oral history (cont.)
Evans: I thought it was an earthquake because I'm a California person.
Zellers: We were close enough to feel the blast pressure wave. You feel it blow against your hair, make your hair move.
Rini: The hair went up on your arms. We looked at each other, and then you see people just flying out of the park. It's like, this is not good. This is something.
Tomlinson: We knew right off what it was. There was no doubt what it was. People going down. People injured. A lot of officers injured. It was sort of chaos. I don't know any other way to describe it.
Davis: The bomb exploded right behind us. ... It forced me to the ground. ... I did catch a piece of shrapnel in my hip.
Scott: I saw some of the debris flying up on the stage. ... I saw a piece of it go by the drummer. I think it grazed his arm. We were far enough away and high enough up that nothing came up there with any velocity. The nails and stuff, that was all embedded in the wood. It looked like confetti.
Quite frankly, this is a nightmare. ... -- Hannah Storm on NBC, about 1:50 a.m. ET, July 27, 1996
Tomlinson: Everything was moving at super speed.
Rini: A minute later, there are sirens going off.
Rudolph: I went with everybody else. Everybody else kind of stood around for a few minutes, and then once, I guess, word came through the crowd that it was an explosion of some sort, it was like panic, pandemonium.
Storm: My producer, a guy named Michael Bass, at the time, said very calmly, get back on the set. We had just finished wrapping. So Jim Lampley and I both went back to the set. We were like, "What's going on?" Well, there's been a bomb, and there's been an explosion at Olympic Park.
Lampley: You literally become two people at the moment that it happens. And one of you is the internal person, and that's the human being who somewhere inside you is entitled to an emotional response and to kind of an evaluative moment about what it means, how big it is, how frightening it is. But that's totally internal and suppressed because the part which must rise to the fore here is the television performer. And the television performer is necessarily mechanical. You have to, sort of instinctively, suppress emotions, suppress a lot of what goes on inside and create what amounts to a veneer.
Storm: We didn't use the word "bomb." We were really, really careful not to use the word "bomb" because we didn't know what it was.
Tomlinson: You didn't have to tell a lot of people. Of course, when they realized it was a bomb, they started fleeing to the exits.
Scott: They started rushing us off the stage real quick. The realization, it didn't take long to sink in.
Bergman: I literally held my saxophone above my head and ran. Everyone scurried like cockroaches in a New York apartment.
Evans: We went down the stairs of the pavilion and out into the open area in Centennial Park. There were people on the ground.
Zellers: One of the police officers got a chunk of his leg taken off from the debris.
Rini: I'd never seen, uh, I'd never seen a dead body before. So we're standing right next to somebody who had passed away and blood running out of them, and they're covering him up with a sheet.
Hawthorne: I heard that there had been two dead, but one was not as a result of the blast. It was a news reporter from, I forget the foreign country. He had died of a heart attack or some other natural cause. [Turkish cameraman Melih Uzunyol died of a heart attack shortly after the bombing while rushing to record the scene.] They said there was one other death but did not say whether it was male or female or give any information. I have to admit it crossed my mind at that time that it might have been Alice [Hawthorne], but I dismissed it because there were so many people there and there were a lot of injuries.
Davis: We started trying to treat those that were injured. We were checking on our people and checking on citizens that were laying around. Alice Hawthorne was one that I went to. I saw her, and I saw that she was in very bad shape. When I got to her, I could see that she was severely injured.
Tomlinson: I saw her down, and she was obviously very seriously injured, and I walked over to her to check her pulse, and one of the troopers said, "I just checked it. I don't find any sign of life."
Hawthorne: I decided to go on to where my daughter, Fallon, was at at the Georgia Baptist Hospital and got up there. As I arrived, apparently they were expecting me and directed me toward the sixth floor, which was pediatrics. I'm still not knowing anything other than Fallon had been injured. So when I got to the sixth floor, and the doors to the elevator opened, my sister-in-law blurted out that Alice was killed. And I, I said something to the effect, don't play with me. Don't even begin to say something like that. But judging from her reaction, I could see that she wasn't joking and that it was true. I don't know what went through my head at the time. I just couldn't believe what I'd been told. I walked off to myself to try and deal with what I had been told. It would become increasingly difficult as it started to set in that it was true. A few minutes later, I went to find my daughter. They took me to her room, and at that time she didn't know. She was only 14. She had not been told. So we started talking, and eventually we let her know what had happened. She was visibly upset as you would expect. ... I got a call, and they wanted to know if I was prepared to identify a body.
Rollins: We were just running like bats out of hell, as fast as we could, to get down to that entrance, because we knew where to go. ... We're pushing ourselves into the park against this crowd of, you know, 10 gazillion people who are fighting to get their way out of the park. We're trying to shoulder our way through, saying, "Press! Press! AJC!" and holding our badges to get through the crowd.
Rini: We had nothing to write with. I borrowed a pen from a paramedic. We were picking up gauze off the ground and anything we could find to write notes with.
Rollins: There were about 150 people laying everywhere with various injuries and stuff. When we got there, we realized that we had to go fast. We knew that the press was running. ... And so it was like, OK, Perry run back to the paper now. Because it was like five blocks away. Run back to the paper. Run! Run! F---ing run to the paper! Tell them, "Stop the press." This is your stop-the-press moment. Tell them Pat will be back in 15 minutes with as much as he can gather, and I'll be back 15 minutes after Pat. Without even thinking, he just goes.
Patrick: I had to try to run and dodge all those people. It was really hot and humid. I'm out of breath, and I was sprinting as fast as I could. I had a backpack full of stuff. I've got this pack on and am trying to run after a couple of beers. So yeah, it felt like a lot further of a distance than it was.