In May 1979, John Harris made a simple mistake and became the second victim of an attack linked to the Una-bomber.
Harris, 52, a University of Illinois professor, was a graduate student at Northwestern University working in the school's Technological Institute 17 years ago."There was a cigar box on the table outside my office. I picked it up, intending to put some pens and pencils inside," Harris recalled Friday in a story in the (Champaign) News-Gazette.
"It turned out to be a bomb, which did not explode. It had a detonator that went off," Harris said. "I saw a bright flash. I don't remember hearing anything."
Harris was treated at a hospital but said he suffered only superficial burns. No one else was hurt.
Harris said he was relieved that authorities have arrested a suspect - Theodore John Kaczynski, a suburban Chicago native - and are trying to build a case that he is the person who has waged a nearly 18-year campaign of bombings that killed three and injured 23.
But he added, "We don't know he's guilty yet."
The first explosion linked to the Unabomber also happened at North-western. In May 1978, a package found in a parking lot at the University of Illinois at Chicago was brought to Northwestern because of the return address. It exploded, injuring one person.
Harris had attended McGill University in Montreal during a time when Quebec separatists were pushing for independence.
"Bombs had been rather frequent. I felt more foolish that I had been so careless," he said.
He said he hadn't seen who left the cigar box in the office, adding that it was common for lots of students to wander in and out of the area.
FBI investigators called Harris from time to time over the years, but he said he never had much to tell them.