Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Vision of Games Blown Apart by Terror

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Vision of Games Blown Apart by Terror

Article excerpt

ATLANTA -- From the corner of Marietta and Williams Street you

look down toward Centennial Park and it's nothing but orange

cones, red barricades, policemen on horseback and empty sidewalks.

The festive Olympic mood has vanished, for now, replaced by

caution, solemn pictures of watching heavily armed soldiers

guard competition venues, and one incredibly sobering thought: A

pipe bomb may now leave a more indelible mark on these

Centennial Games than Kerri Strug, Michelle Smith or Michael

Johnson.

One moment, the extraordinary sight of watching a torch pass

from Janet Evans to Muhammad Ali -- Olympic legend to Olympic

legend -- lights up the world. A week later, almost to the

minute, replays of Evans and her startled face are being

plastered all over television. Flags are at half-staff.

Let the shame begin.

Richie Franco, 25, was at Centennial Park when the bomb went

off early Saturday morning. The street vendor from Queens, N.Y.,

had gone there with another vendor, Chris, from New Jersey to

meet some girls. They were already 20 minutes late for their 1

a.m. appointment.

They never found the girls. In no time at all, they lost track

of each other. And Franco was in the middle of chaos.

"At first, everybody thought it was fireworks, something that was

part of the [concert] show," said Franco. "I heard something go

off, thought for a few seconds and said to myself, `No, it's a

bomb.' Everybody was running, not knowing where to run to.

People were slipping and falling down in the mud all over the

place.

"There were trails of blood everywhere."

After watching seven days of the swim competition, after camping

out at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center for 15 hours a day and

reporting on the heartache and triumph of men and women in

Speedos, I was more than ready for something different.

But not blood at the Olympics. Not listening to a guy hawking

temporary tattoos describe the horror of the moment in

excruciating detail. Franco was about 150 feet away when the

bomb went off near a stage at the park. …

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