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14-Year-Old Survives, But Without Her Mom

Sun., July 28, 1996

When little Fallon Stubbs was wheeled into Georgia Baptist Medical Center, all she wanted was her mother.

Her right shoulder and thigh bled through her clothes, and her left index finger hurt. She’d been hit by flying metal and knocked to the ground in the Saturday morning explosion at Centennial Olympic Park.

But she knew her mother had been hurt far worse.

“She came in extremely upset. She kept asking about her mother,” said hospital spokesman George Ivey. “She kept telling the nurses she had seen her mother bleeding. In a little while, we began to realize that nobody who fit her mother’s description was in any of the hospitals - so we called the coroner.”

A few hours later, as Fallon awoke from surgery, the 14-year-old high school freshman found her hospital bed surrounded by her doctor, two chaplains, a social worker and her father, John Stubbs.

They broke the news.

“She screamed and she cried for about a minute…,” said her surgeon, Dr. Glennon Brown, tears welling in his eyes. “Her father came over and hugged her and told her everything was going to be OK, that they were going to get through this. We sat in the room silently while she cried. Then the police chaplain prayed. He basically asked for strength from the Lord in their time of need.”

Alice Hawthorne of Albany, Ga., was pronounced dead on arrival at Grady Hospital, across town from the emergency room where her slight daughter with big dark eyes called her name.

The pair had been standing near the tower of a concert stage that blew up as thousands of revelers celebrated the Centennial Olympic Games early Saturday. Hawthorne’s throat was severed by flying debris, but Fallon was spared as shards of metal skimmed off of her shoulder and thigh. The little girl also dislocated her finger as she fell.

“We appreciate all the prayers and calls and love shown by everyone,” said John Hawthorne, Alice Hawthorne’s husband and Fallon’s stepfather, in a written statement Saturday evening.

“We are trying to cope with the loss of our loved one, Alice. This is a very difficult thing to do at this time. … Fallon is recovering very well from her injuries and surgery, and she should be released in 24 to 48 hours.”

It’s unclear exactly why Fallon and her mother were at the park. Fallon apparently told nurses she’d been waiting for her mother, who may have been volunteering or working at the park.

The bomb went off at 1:19 a.m., sending Georgia Baptist into its “Code Orange” disaster procedures. Dr. Brown got the call around 1:45 a.m., about same time medics wheeled a little girl in on a stretcher.

Fallon was one of 42 victims who streamed through the hospital’s doors between 1:30 and 3:30 a.m. Most were treated and released in hospital “scrubs,” their clothes retained as potential evidence. Five people were admitted, including Fallon, who doctors considered the most seriously injured.

At 5-foot-4 and 110 pounds, Fallon suffered a 7-inch gash on her right tricep and a 10-inch cut on her right thigh.

She went into surgery around 4:15 a.m., Ivey said, and was in recovery 90 minutes later.

“It was a very frightening experience,” said Brown, calling Fallon a “very brave” little girl. “We had to get consent for surgery over the phone. She’s 14 and had to go to the operating room without any of her family.”

Her natural father, Stubbs of Cordele, Ga., was at her side when she awoke. Her stepfather and an aunt soon joined him, as hundreds of people, unable to reach loved ones in Atlanta, phoned Georgia Baptist to check their casualty list. One of the callers was Alice Hawthorne’s good friend from Albany.

“She was very upset for Alice,” said Ivey, “and also for Fallon. She said they are very special people.”

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