Alice Hawthorne was so enthralled by the grandeur of the Olympics that she and her 14-year-old daughter Fallon made the 180-mile drive north from Albany to Atlanta to see it for themselves.
But the journey ended in bloody tragedy Saturday when a homemade pipe bomb, bound with nails and screws and stuffed into a knapsack, killed the 44-year-old woman and left her child on a hospital operating table.
Hawthorne was one of two people who died in the attack at the Centennial Olympic Park in central Atlanta, apparently suffering massive head injuries from the crude pipe bomb.
A cameraman for Turkish state television suffered a heart attack while running to cover the blast. Melih Uzunyol, 40, who had a history of heart problems, is survived by a wife and two children.
Hawthorne's daughter, Fallon, underwent emergency surgery at Atlanta's Georgia Baptist Medical Center. Doctors said she is expected to recover.
When Fallon was wheeled into the hospital, all she wanted was her mother.
Her right shoulder and thigh bled through her clothes, and her left index finger hurt. 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 okay, that they were going to get through this."
The blast devastated the city where Hawthorne lived in a modest brick home in a middle-class neighborhood called Juniper Drive.
Albany is an industrial city of 64,000 residents that lies among peanut, cotton and tobacco farms on the flatlands of southern Georgia.
"I'm still in shock. I don't want to believe it," said her best friend, Alberta Wallace. "She was sweet. She was a sweet, outgoing person. She'd help anybody."
Neighbors say Hawthorne decided to visit Atlanta after hearing about the city's Olympic glamor from her sister, Diane, who works as a Games volunteer. They sadly recalled the sight of mother and daughter loading up the family car on Friday evening, saying the two had hoped to buy tickets to one of the Olympic events.
The last time neighbors saw her was when she stopped by to collect money for the funeral of a local clergyman.
Word of Hawthorne's death spread quickly through the neighborhood, where the Hawthornes own Fallon's Hotdog and Ice Cream Parlor.
Hawthorne, who served in the Army during the Vietnam War, worked as campaign manager for Winfred Dukes, a Democratic candidate for state representative. She recently went back to Albany State to complete her business degree.
"She was always willing to help anybody in a bind," said her neighbor Shanita Gay, who works with Hawthorne's husband. "It's a great loss to the community."
_ Times staff writer Jen Pilla contributed to this report.