WOODBURY, Ga., Aug. 29 (UPI) -- Richard Jewell, the Atlanta security guard who was suspected and then cleared in the Centennial Park bombing, died Wednesday at his home in Georgia at age 44.
Jewell’s wife found his body, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. While the cause of death has not been determined, the Meriweather County coroner said Jewell had been diagnosed with diabetes several months ago.
Jewell was a guard at Centennial Park during the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996 when he noticed a suspicious knapsack and helped evacuate the park. Within days, newspapers and network TV reporters were saying he was the FBI’s main suspect in the bombing.
Eric Robert Rudolph, an anti-abortion activist, pleaded guilty to that bombing and others in 2005.
Jewell later worked in law enforcement in several Georgia communities, most recently as a Meriweather County sheriff’s deputy. He also sued the news organizations that named him as a suspect in the bombing, winning settlements from some, including a reported $500,000 from NBC News.
Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue last year honored Jewell for saving lives during the bombing.
"I never sought to be a hero,” Jewell said. “I have always viewed myself as just one of the many trained professionals who simply did his or her job that tragic night. I wish I could have done more."