Sandy Sanderson

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Robert Dewayne "Sandy" Sanderson (born June 19, 1963; died January 29, 1998 in Birmingham) was a Birmingham Police officer who was killed while off duty and moonlighting as a security guard at the New Woman All Women Clinic on 10th Avenue South on Southside. He was killed by a bomb at the abortion clinic planted by Eric Robert Rudolph.

Sanderson lived in Mt Olive and was one of six people selected from the North Jefferson area to carry the Olympic Torch down U.S. Highway 31 toward Birmingham for the 1996 Olympic Summer Games in Atlanta. Sanderson was nominated to be one of the torch bearers because he befriended a young child who was stricken with leukemia. The child's family was so impressed with Sanderson that they sent a letter to the Olympic Committee and the committee then declared him a community hero and chose him as one of the torch bearers.

Early on the morning of January 29, 1998, Rudolph left a bomb inside a FedEx box in some bushes near the clinic entrance. He lingered near the scene holding a remote-control, which he used to detonate the explosive at 7:33 a.m. when he saw that Sanderson had discovered the device. The shrapnel bomb killed Sanderson instantly, and critically-injured nurse Emily Lyons who had just arrived for work. Sanderson's was the first fatality associated with violence aimed against abortion clinics in the United States.

Sanderson is buried in Crestview Memorial Gardens in Adamsville. A section of I-65 south between mile markers 257 and 258 was designated in 2017 as the "Officer Sandy Sanderson Memorial Highway."


  • Lasseter, Tim (June 27, 1996) "Local runners to carry torch in Gardendale" North Jefferson News
  • Ford, Hunter (February 5, 1998) "Abortion clinic bombing takes life of local resident" North Jefferson News
  • Robinson, Carol (October 30, 2017) "Highways dedicated to 7 Birmingham police officers killed in the line of duty." The Birmingham News

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