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Interview With Cindi Broaddus

Aired April 18, 2005 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Dr. Phil McGraw, and the woman he calls one of his heroes, his sister-in-law, Cindi Broaddus. Her face was scarred by sulfuric acid after a stranger's senseless, random act. Her burn so bad doctors only gave her a 30 percent chance of survival. We'll talk with Cindi Broaddus, Dr. Phil himself and his wife, Cindy's sister, Robin McGraw. They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Dr. Phil busy today. He just taped his 500th show. So he'll be checking in with us by phone in a little while.

This is an extraordinary story, now in a book. The book is "A Random Act." The author is Cindi Broaddus. It's -- foreword by Dr. Phil McGraw. It is published by Morrow. It's called "An Inspiring True Story of Fighting to Survive and Choosing to Forgive." Let's show you a segment of a recent Dr. Phil show, and then we'll talk with our guests. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oklahoma lawmen continue their search for the person who threw a jar of acid onto a passing car.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Someone high above on this overpass dropped (INAUDIBLE) like a bomb. Cindi began to scream as the acid left its mark on everything it touched -- seatbelts, the highway, and her skin.

CINDI BROADDUS, AUTHOR, "A RANDOM ACT": The acid burned my face, my lips, my cheeks, my chin, my chest, my arms. I inhaled acid, and it burned the inside of my throat.


KING: Hi, Cindi. What happened that day? Where were you going? What was happening?

BROADDUS: We were going on vacation.

KING: We being?

BROADDUS: My friend Jim and I. We were going to go to San Diego for just a little four, five-day vacation.

KING: From Oklahoma.

BROADDUS: From Oklahoma.

KING: You just started out, then.

BROADDUS: Just started out. Oh, yeah. We were going to go the night before and stay in the city near the airport, but my little granddaughter had a T-ball game that night, and I didn't want to miss it, so we decided to get up early in the morning and drive.

KING: And what happened? You were driving or he was driving?

BROADDUS: He was driving, a little black car with black tinted windows. I kind of had dozed off. I promised him I wouldn't, but I always do. So I kind of laid my head over and closed my eyes. And the next thing I remember is just searing pain.

KING: You went under -- you later learned you went under an overpass and acid was thrown at the car. Was it a convertible?

BROADDUS: No, it was not.

KING: How did it get through the car?

BROADDUS: I often wondered that same thing. I would think it would just shatter, but the acid literally ate through the windshield and filled the car with acid.

KING: What happened to Jim?

BROADDUS: Jim was burned on the right side of his body. And some -- and splatter burns on his face and his neck.

KING: How is he doing now?

BROADDUS: He's doing great.

KING: Did the car careen off the highway?

BROADDUS: Surprisingly, no. Jim kept such a level head. I truly believe that Jim is the hero in all of this.

KING: He drove on?

BROADDUS: He drove on. I was screaming and begging him to pull over -- pull the car over, pull the car over. He would not do it.

KING: Drove to the hospital.

BROADDUS: He actually pulled over to what's called a tribal gaming center, which was a gas station and had a truck stop. And pulled over there, and we got help.

KING: This is an Indian tribe gaming center?

BROADDUS: Yes, it is, just outside of Oklahoma City.

KING: And they got help for you? They got you to a hospital?

BROADDUS: Jim jumped out of the car and ran in, and yelled to the two ladies working behind the counter, you know, "call 911, call 911, we've been -- we've been injured."

KING: Was the person who threw it caught?

BROADDUS: Never caught.

KING: Never caught.

BROADDUS: Never caught.

KING: How did you learn of it, Robin?

ROBIN MCGRAW, CINDI'S SISTER: I had a phone call early, maybe 7:00 a.m.

KING: This was how long ago?

R. MCGRAW: This was four years ago. And Philip and Jay were traveling, and it was just Jordan and I at home. And I got a phone call from her daughter, my little niece Brandi (ph), about 7::00 a.m.

KING: How did she tell you something like this? What did she say?

R. MCGRAW: You know...

KING: Acid got thrown in my mother's...

R. MCGRAW: Yes. She said, Robin, there's been an accident with mom. And of course, you automatically think a car accident or something, and I said, "is she OK?" And she said, "she's alive." And that kind of scared me, of course. And so, I said, "what has happened?" And she told me that -- about the acid, that she had been burned. Actually, she told me first that she had been burned. So I thought an accident with fire and such. And then she told me about the acid.

KING: Did you fly right out?

R. MCGRAW: Oh, yes. Yes.

KING: What did she look like first -- did you see her in the hospital?

R. MCGRAW: Yes, yes. She looked -- she looked alive. And that was all that I -- I walked in and just didn't see the injuries right away, because I could see that she was alive. And she wanted to -- as she always does, she wanted to make sure I was OK. So I walked in and she went, "I'm OK, I'm OK." And just hearing her voice and such, she was alive. But she was -- her face was swollen so big, and she had medicine and stuff -- already black skin still on her face. And it was huge.

KING: How would you describe the pain of acid? You were sleeping, right, so you don't know -- suddenly you wake up in pain, right? BROADDUS: Actually, I was in what I describe as a void. I did not know what happened. I didn't hear it, I didn't see it. I thought -- our mother passed away of a heart attack very suddenly. And I thought that's what had happened to me. And I thought Jim was just over there driving and he didn't realize that I had died over here and that...

KING: Didn't know you were burned?

BROADDUS: Not at first. I didn't, no.

KING: You just had pain.

BROADDUS: I just had intense pain, mostly in my chest area, and my face. And my first thought was that I must have had a heart attack. So I turned to Jim and I just said, "hey, something has happened to me and I don't know what it is, but you've got to stop the car. Please, you've got to stop the car and listen to me." I had a message I had to get to my kids.

KING: You thought you were going to die.

BROADDUS: I thought -- I actually thought I had died and had been given a little bit of a reprieve to deliver this message.

KING: Were you conscious through it all?

BROADDUS: Except for those first few seconds, I was conscious, yes.

KING: You've never passed out after that?

BROADDUS: No, I didn't.

KING: At the Indian place?


KING: On the way to the hospital?


KING: In the hospital?

BROADDUS: Well, once I got in the ambulance and they were able to give me morphine, I was not quite as alert as I had been before, but I never passed out or went unconscious.

KING: People told...

R. MCGRAW: She couldn't really see either the whole time, she couldn't see at that point yet what had happened to her.

KING: Your eyes were burned?

BROADDUS: Exactly. R. MCGRAW: So she still didn't know what she was going -- what was happening to her.

KING: Did Jim know what had happened? Did he know acid? Did he have any concept?

BROADDUS: Actually when I was screaming, and was begging him to pull the car over and he refused to do it, he said to me, "Cindi, we've been burned with acid, and I have got to get us help." And because he wouldn't stop the car and because he was driving so fast, and I could feel that wind rushing in through the huge hole in the windshield, I thought that somebody was then chasing us. So I kind of had another little paranoia right there that we were being chased and somebody was going to throw more acid on us. And so he did know that that was acid had been thrown on us.

KING: Did you think you were going to die in the hospital?

BROADDUS: I did. I wasn't -- I wasn't quite sure, because you know, I was in such pain, and actually, when they got me to the ER, nobody was really just over me and doing things like I thought they should be.

KING: What were they doing?

BROADDUS: Well, they were taking care of me, but it wasn't anything life-saving.

KING: How bad were the burns?

BROADDUS: Third degree.

KING: I'm told with burns, we visited burn victims after 9/11 at New York Hospital, even putting a sheet on a burn hurts.

BROADDUS: It does.

KING: Anything hurts.

BROADDUS: It is the most painful...

KING: A breeze hurts.

BROADDUS: It does.

R. MCGRAW: And the acid kept burning -- continued to burn deeper and deeper.

BROADDUS: The acid would burn until they got it all washed off. And...

KING: So you were in constant pain?

BROADDUS: I was in constant pain.

KING: What, did they give you morphine? BROADDUS: They did. That's a very interesting story. My daughter had kind of picked out the outfit that I should wear on the plane that morning, and she wanted me to wear some really thick canvas tennis shoes, and I actually thought that I was too old to wear those tennis shoes, and I wanted just some sandals. And that morning, when I got up, I put those tennis shoes on, and then I took them back off, and then I thought -- I felt guilty, so I put them back on.

And in the ambulance, because I was burned over my entire body, the only place they could find to insert a needle to give me morphine was underneath one of those tennis shoes on top of my foot.

KING: It protected the foot?


KING: We'll be right back with more of Cindi Broaddus and Robin McGraw. Dr. Phil will be checking in with us in a little while too, and we'll be including your phone calls. We'll talk about this book, and the forgiving aspect. Don't go away.


DR. PHIL MCGRAW, TV PERSONALITY: I have so much love and admiration and respect for her and what she's done in her life before this happened, what she's done in her life in response to what's happened, and then at the same time, I want to find the person that's done this. I want him to pay the price. I want him to be brought to justice and be held accountable.




BROADDUS: The whole time I was at the hospital, Jim, my daughters, Robin, my other sisters, were all at my side.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My first reaction when I saw Mom in the hospital was just pure shock. She heard me gasp.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My mom is very much a fighter. I just continued to reassure my mom that we were there for her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn't see how my mom was going to come home alive.


KING: Why did you decide to write a book?

BROADDUS: Well, you know, to survive something like this is important, but to survive it and go on with life -- I felt that I had gained an education with what I had done, and I wanted to see if I could help other people survive something tragic like this. KING: Did you consult with your brother-in-law?

BROADDUS: Oh, yes.

KING: Did he help you get it published and everything?

BROADDUS: He did. He did. He's been a tremendous help to me. Both...

KING: Were you always close?

BROADDUS: Ah, yes. We've always -- I've always respected him.

R. MCGRAW: There was a time when he scared you. There was a time when he made your nervous.

KING: Why?

BROADDUS: You know, just because I always felt he was reading everything I was saying.

KING: Yes, you're scared you've got to get in an elevator, you say, hello, what do you mean by that?

BROADDUS: Yes, exactly, so I'd always kind of watch every word I said to him. But, she wasn't supposed to remember that.

KING: The pictures that we see of you after the accident, now you have vastly improved. Have you had a lot of work done?

BROADDUS: Oh, thank you. I've had many, many reconstructive surgeries.

KING: Are they still -- are they all done now?

BROADDUS: Actually, I did stop them. The doctor wanted to do more, but I called a stop to it last October. I got very ill with on -- as a result of one of the surgeries, thought I was going to die again, and I just didn't want to revisit that scene, so, I said, no more.

KING: Are you still with Jim?


KING: He stuck by through all of this.

BROADDUS: Oh, definitely.

KING: This accident happened at 4:00 a.m.?

BROADDUS: About 3:30 in the morning.

KING: How did that -- were you the only car on the road?

BROADDUS: We were the only car on the road that night. Well, that's before I fell asleep, but I just remarked to Jim, you know what, I have not seen another car on this road. It was the loneliest road that night. It was a major interstate highway. And just about the time I said that, he said, well, bite your tongue. There's two trucks coming from the other direction.

KING: So the odds are what, that...?

BROADDUS: Had to be 1 in 10 trillion that somebody could hit us like that.

KING: Did they fully investigated who might have done it?

BROADDUS: They certainly have. The police department in Newcastle, Oklahoma -- Officer Gary Norman has put his -- the last four years of his life into solving this, as has the OSBI and Phil.

KING: What is the crime, by the way? What is that called, to throw something off an overpass?

BROADDUS: I guess this would be attempt attempted murder, because -- but I don't know.

R. MCGRAW: Because of this -- tell them about your Cindi Broaddus bill in Oklahoma.

KING: Cindi Broaddus bill?

BROADDUS: The Cindi Broaddus Act was passed in the state of Oklahoma making it a felony to throw anything from a bridge or overpass.

KING: A law has now been named in your name.

BROADDUS: It has. I'm very proud of that. I feel from anything negative and tragic, the answer to why something like that would happen comes with a positive outcome like this, and so, I just said, we've got to strengthen the penalties for people doing things like this.

KING: Are you a person of faith?


KING: Did you not question that faith?

BROADDUS: I did not.

KING: Did not.

BROADDUS: I feel it's just say --

KING: No, why me?

BROADDUS: Never once ask, why me. Never. I don't believe in that. If I ask why me, it's almost like saying, I didn't deserve it, and someone else did. Now, that's just my personal opinion, but, no. KING: Quite a sister you have.

R. MCGRAW: Very. Yes. She's amazing.

BROADDUS: Well, me too. I have quite a sister, too.

KING: Now, you -- this says it's an act of choosing to forgive. You forgive the person who threw this?

BROADDUS: Totally.

KING: Totally?

BROADDUS: Totally.

KING: Explain that.

BROADDUS: I feel like forgiveness is a gift I give myself. You know, I could let this turn me bitter and hateful, but that's only affecting me and mine. It's not effecting him and his. So, there was no reason not to forgive him. So I have totally forgiven him.

KING: And that would be the same if he were caught, and you would tell him you forgive him.

BROADDUS: I would. Yes.

KING: Your brother-in-law, as we just saw on the tape, would like to see him fully prosecuted. Would you?

BROADDUS: As would my entire family. But, you know, I would like to see him prosecuted just so he didn't hurt somebody else, but mainly, I would love to see him get help or turn his life around and make something good come of this.

KING: Very little clues, I guess?

BROADDUS: Very little. Small piece of a lid. Some acid. No eyewitnesses, no fingerprints.

KING: How do you deal with the disfiguration, emotionally?

BROADDUS: You know, I have been extremely lucky because I have had my sisters and my family and my daughters. And, so, I don't feel like I have anything to deal with. It's here, and I don't see it unless I look in the mirror. I feel like I'm still me on the inside. I feel like I'm still the same me.

KING: Well, you are. The first time you looked in the mirror?

BROADDUS: Everybody just -- well, I had gotten up, the first time out of bed in the hospital, and I decided, on my own, I would visit the rest room. And on the way back, with the help of my daughters and stuff, and they were trying to shield me from the mirror, I caught a glimpse, and I turned around and looked and I stood there, because I was unrecognizable, and I looked, and the whole room held their breath. Nobody breathed. And I just started laughing.

KING: Laughing?

BROADDUS: It was just too much. I had to laugh. I was so horrible looking

KING: It was so ludicrous.

BROADDUS: It was so ludicrous that you had to laugh. And --

KING: I think I understand that.


KING: We'll take a break and come back. Dr. Phil will be checking in with us, and in a while we'll take your phone calls. The book is "A Random Act." Cindi Broaddus is the author. Don't go away.


BROADDUS: I had to take action. I helped pass a law in my home state. In October of 2003, they passed a law that was named after me. Cindi Broaddus Act is a law that makes throwing anything from a bridge or an overpass a felony.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wow, Kimmidy Brooke (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I always think that when the accident happened, the acid didn't burn her heart. I saw the same wonderful grandma.

I love grandma this much.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Grandma is thumbs up.


KING: Our guest are Cindi Broaddus, Dr. Phil's sister-in-law, author of the new book "A Random Act."

Robin McGraw, Cindi's youngest sister and Dr. Phil's wife.

And joining us now on the phone is Dr. Phil McGraw, host of TV's "Dr. Phil," "New York Times" best selling author, Cindi's brother-in- law, who wrote the forward for her book.

What do you make of this story, Doc?

P. MCGRAW: Larry, it's a tragic story, and I am so proud that Cindi is turning probably the darkest day in her life into something positive for people by writing what I think is a truly inspirational book, because we're all going do face these things.

KING: Yes, but not quite dramatically are we?

P. MCGRAW: Boy, I certainly hope that we don't. But everybody has their own ground zero in their life at one point. You know, whether it's the loss of a loved one or financial set backs or health trauma. Somehow or another, we just don't always have a really good plan about how we're going to navigate that terrain. But you certainly lose a lot -- learn a lot about yourself when you lose something like that. And I think then, Cindi, has really helped us all.

KING: What do you make of the concept of not wanting revenge at all?

P. MCGRAW: She's a bigger person than I, because I didn't get the acid thrown on me, and I still want revenge. I still want to find these people, and I still want to bring them to justice. I mean, there needs to be a reckoning here. And I admire the fact that she can move on past that. And I mean, I really do admire that. I just -- I don't think I'm quite that big a person

KING: Did you -- you were the one who pushed her into writing this, into telling this story?

P. MCGRAW: Well, I wouldn't say pushed, I'd say, more I cornered her one day and stayed just stayed after her. Because really, you know, I talk to people a lot about dealing with crisis. And I do try to give them a plan. But as I watched Cindi deal with her priorities in the face of this tragedy, I truly did believe it was inspirational. And I said, Cindi, I don't want you to try to preach to people. I don't want you to try to teach people. I don't want you to try to give advice. What I wish you would do is sit down and chronicle your journey along the way, the choices that you've made, the challenges that you have faced, because I think just your example is very inspirational.

And for example, there's one place in Cindi's book when she says, I had to decide what kind of survivor I would be. Most of us think about at the level of will I survive. And she took to the next level, saying, OK, I'm going to make it threw this, but what's going to be left when I do. What kind of survivor am I going to be. And I thought that was very insightful and very true about the choices we have to make.

KING: Are you scared, Cindi, when you drive under underpasses?

BROADDUS: My heart does a flip-flop.

KING: Can't avoid them?

BROADDUS: Can't avoid them, got to go on.

KING: Doctor, you're going say something, Phi.

P. MCGRAW: Well, I think it does leave you. There's that little kind of Pavlov's dog in us, where we see those conditions that it brought the tragedy to begin with. But she really was back to work in virtually no time, again, way before I would have been. You know, she and Robin are very close. You know, Robin, I know you talked to her every step of the way. I don't think she ever faltered from day one, did she?

R. MCGRAW: Never. Never, not for a second.

KING: So she entitled if you have a little phobia every once and a while about an underpass, right -- or an overpass..

P. MCGRAW: I would certainly think so. The thing is, the purpose of the book "A Random Act" is not only for people to say, gosh, do I have a strategy when I face these things. But also to say, you know what, maybe I don't have it quite so bad. I know when I first sat down and read the raw manual script, I had been belly aching to Robin all day, about how my back was hurting and my knee was hurting as I was dressing to go play tennis. And you know, I sat down and read that, and I thought, man, you are a whiner. I mean, here's somebody that peeled their face off in their hands that has a better attitude than you do. And all you've got's is a knee that's a little gimpy. So, you know, I think it kind of gives us a little wake-up call so we don't take things for granted quite so much.

KING: Why are we that way, that when we face -- you know, I saw someone with -- I cried when I had a broken toe and I saw someone with no leg.

P. MCGRAW: Well, it's all a point of view and the relevancy. You know, if someone breaks my leg and then as the story goes, you see a man with no feet, I truly have compassion for him, but my leg is still broken. And I still deal with that sixty seconds, a minute, 60 minutes an hour, and so it's the relevance. And it's how much it impacts our lives. And I think the admirable thing about Cindi is she said, you can change the wrapper, but you can't change what's in it. And I think that she did that for a good reason.

KING: We'll take a break and be right back, spend more moments with Dr. Phil and then take phone calls for Cindi and Robin. Don't go away.


BROADDUS: A year after the attack, I shared my story on the "Dr. Phil Show."

P. MCGRAW: Please welcome, Cindi.

How do you get your mind around such a random act?

BROADDUS: Some of the best advice Phil has ever given me is everything in life is a choice. The attacker hurt me once. But then after that, I had the choice whether I was going to hurt, over and over and over again. I could wake up every day and be bitter and angry or -- but I could wake up and see these three beautiful people and my grandkids, and I was OK with that then.



KING: We'll be taking calls in a little while. Dr. Phil, people in your business have to study the whys. You're into whys every day. Why people do what they do? Why do you think someone would do something like this to a stranger?

P. MCGRAW: Larry, the truth is, as much as we don't want to think about it, there are people in this world with so much rage, so much anger and so much frustration that -- and I have had them tell me this -- that they will get up and leave their house on a given day, and they're not happy until they have inflicted pain on someone, until they have destroyed something or someone, whether it's a drive-by shooting in the inner city, or a random act like this on a country road in Oklahoma. There are people who are so tormented inside that they just have to vent that and inflict pain on other people.

And I don't say that in an understanding way, because that doesn't make it OK. But that's what drives people to do that sort of thing. And of course, those sort of people are not deep thinkers, and they don't have the insight to understand the impact this will have on a mother, a grandmother, a woman that for the rest of her life will be managing and dealing with these physical, mental and emotional compromises. It's just a stupid and random act, and I'm not going to rest until I find who did this.

KING: Cindi, does it bother you not knowing why they did it? You know they weren't after you.

BROADDUS: I haven't spent a whole lot of time wondering that, because I didn't want that to control my life. And I think the why comes when you have a positive outcome to something like this, that maybe it gives a purpose to life. And helping change the law and showing random acts of kindness every day and becoming a better person.

KING: Phil, did you give advice to Cindi about dealing with scars?

P. MCGRAW: Well, I did, you know, and Robin did as well. And I guess living with me all of these years and...

KING: Scar enough.

P. MCGRAW: Oh, thank you for that.

KING: No joke, Phil.

P. MCGRAW: But no, I did, I talked to Cindi about it, and because she was really worried about how people would react to her. Am I going to scare my grandchildren? My daughters are going to freak out over this. And just the unknowns of what was coming in the future.

And you know, I told Cindi that she really sold herself short in what kind of legacy she had created in the minds and hearts of those people in her life. Because they didn't love Cindi because of how she looked on the outside. They loved her because she was there when they needed her, because they had shared so much of their life with her. And I said, you're going to have to redefine how you look at beauty. And I think she did a great job of doing that.

And you know, Robin, you'll remember, when we were driving to the hospital in Oklahoma City from the airport, you said, watch what happens here, Cindi will rise to this occasion. Robin said she is the last person in the world to deserve this, and probably the only person I know that could handle it. Do you remember that?

R. MCGRAW: Yes, I do. I do. And she not only proved me right, but has gone far and above anything I thought anyone was capable of doing. So she's certainly been amazing throughout this.

KING: What was it like for you, first for you Robin and Phil, when you first saw her? When you, Robin, first saw her?

R. MCGRAW: Well, when I first saw her, truly, it was to see her living, breathing, talking.

KING: You weren't -- was it scary, though?

R. MCGRAW: No, no.


R. MCGRAW: My first fear was the pain that she was going through. I didn't -- I could not stand that she was in pain. But I have to say the fact that she was awake and talking to me, and alive, was the most important thing.

KING: What were your impressions, Phil?

P. MCGRAW: Well, like Robin, I could only imagine. Because, Larry, you have to understand that at the time that we saw her, which was just a matter of hours after the ridiculous act had been afflicted on her, the acid had not deactivated. It was still as we lay there -- as we talked to her, she was laying there in the bed, the acid was still invading her body and going deeper and deeper. Because you know, a flame you can take away. If you impale on something, you can take it out. But this is a liquid knife that cuts through your skin and then the tissue and the muscle and the bone. And so she was still being attacked by the acid as she lay there in bed. And that was something that left me feeling really helpless and really enraged.

KING: Phil, before you leave us, I know you're busy, what are people going to take away from this book? P. MCGRAW: I think the main thing, Larry, is to take time out, and appreciate the wonderful blessings that we all enjoy in our lives, but that we just really kind of take for granted. I mean, just the ability to see and walk and feel and be free of so much of the pain and hurt that can be visited upon someone.

I think it will give people a reminder that, hey, I need to give thanks for who I am and where I am. And secondly, I hope it will tell people that we have an amazing depth, an amazing resiliency as human beings to snap back from adversity in our lives. And I think it has a very calming and a very inspiration effect on people that lets them know, you now what, the human experience is a deep one, and I will find things about myself when I need to know them in my life. And I think it's a big inspiration in that regard.

KING: Thanks for joining us, Phil. Be well.

P. MCGRAW: All right, Larry, I'll see you soon.

KING: You bet you.

P. MCGRAW: OK, bye, Robin.


P. MCGRAW: Bye, Cindi.

BROADDUS: Bye, Phil.

KING: Dr. Phil. He wrote the foreword to "A Random Act."

We'll take your calls for Cindi and Robin right after this.


BROADDUS: I got the pink circle.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's more comfortable in her skin today than five years ago.

BROADDUS: My scars are only skin-deep. I think I'm extremely lucky that I didn't get burned on the inside.

I made a choice not to be bitter. I did not want to leave a legacy of bitterness to my grandchildren, my daughters, to anybody.

I think many victims of crimes choose to shut down. I'm so glad I didn't make that choice.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was screaming, she was asking for her family. She was telling me she was dying.

BROADDUS: I had a message that Jim had to take to my daughters. I needed them to know one more time how much I loved them, and that I was OK.

AMY HAWLEY: Very hard here both to recover physically and emotionally.

BROADDUS: I remember having my hands on my face and thinking I was bleeding, and then realizing that was my skin in my hand.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Doctors say, had she not been wearing eyeglasses, she may have been left blind.


KING: You mentioned during the break that you would like the person who perpetrated this to spend six months in a burn center. Not as a victim, but listening.

BROADDUS: Exactly. Working with burn victims and letting -- and just getting a feel as to what he did this, and how much excruciating pain he put me through. I would like him to see that, and maybe that would change the outcome of the next...

KING: Is it a pain like -- how would you describe it?

BROADDUS: It's just -- I can't describe it. There's so many different levels of the pain, when it first happened and stuff. Then skin grafts are just -- especially the donor sites -- they are just the most painful thing, and I didn't think I would live through those. I woke up screaming in pain. But I got to tell you one thing, right now: if I ever see a burn victim, ever, I look at them and think, you're one of the most courageous people to walked the face of the earth.

KING: Just to live?

BROADDUS: Just to live.

KING: Let's take a call. Largo, Florida, hello.

CALLER: Cindi...

KING: Hello?

CALLER: Are you still in pain...

KING: Hello?

CALLER: ...number one, and number two...

KING: I'm sorry, we have a bad connection. Can you hear me?

CALLER: Yes. Hello? I'm here.

KING: All right. Go ahead, that's better.

CALLER: Cindi, I have two questions. Are you in pain still? And, did your religion -- my religion teaches us to offer up our pain, did you do that?

BROADDUS: I did do that. I am not still in pain. I'm doing very well, thank you.

KING: Up your pain, did she say?

BROADDUS: Did my religion -- did I send my pain up to God to get rid of it.

KING: Oh, send the pain up to God.

BROADDUS: Yes. My religion has played a very important part in this.

KING: Melton (ph), Michigan, hello.

CALLER: Hi. Cindi, I was wondering how you feel about the fact that this person has never been caught. And, also, what kind of punishment do you feel would be appropriate for something like this, other than the six months that you spoke about. And also, you're very beautiful.

BROADDUS: Well, thank you very much. I don't think of any other punishment, other than I would like to see him have to spend time in a burn center and just see what he has done, the results of what he has done. I wonder if he realizes what happened. I sometimes think that maybe he just thought he would urn the car or ruin the paint on the car, so...

KING: You were asking her if she thought about him at all?

R. MCGRAW: I often wonder if he's watching her survive so beautifully. I would hope that -- I would like to think that he feels remorse for it. And I hope that -- I really hope that he sees her doing so beautifully.

KING: But you don't hate, do you?

BROADDUS: I don't hate.

KING: You don't hate him.

BROADDUS: I don't hate him. I have totally forgiven him.

KING: Peoria, Illinois, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry, hello, Cindi...


CALLER: ...and hello, Robin.

R. MCGRAW: Hello.

CALLER: I'm inspired by listening to you and watching you. I thank you for sharing your blessings, and I'm grateful that you're healing. Could you just share with me and the rest of the audience your day-to-day activities? You know, it's one thing to have it be a year later or two years later, but as one goes through the pain on a day-to-day basis, just maybe share some of your daily activities that allowed you to heal in the way you have.

BROADDUS: Well, first, I accepted the help of many people. I accepted my limitations, and that was one of the hardest things to do, was to go ahead and let people do things for me. I'm not in pain anymore. I have -- if it's very cold, my scars hurt a little. It's not what I would consider pain.

KING: You dealt with -- you used humor, too?

BROADDUS: Oh, we're a pretty funny family. We just laugh a lot. I truly, truly believe in the healing touch of a human, and so we hug, and I get my strength from my three daughters, my grandchildren, and my sisters.

KING: You work at Cable One.

BROADDUS: I do work at Cable One.

KING: That's a cable company in Oklahoma City.

BROADDUS: Yes. They have been so good.

KING: They deliver CNN to the homes.

BROADDUS: They do.

KING: Is it true that a co-working planned to have a Cable One truck waiting at every overpass -- it would have been 30 trucks in all -- but you got out a day early.

BROADDUS: That's exactly right. And it's one of the most touching parts of this story.

KING: They were going to have a Cable phone truck -- Cable One truck.

BROADDUS: They were going to have a Cable One truck parked under each underpass, and as we came up on it, that truck was going to go under as a symbolic gesture that I would be OK.

KING: We'll be right back with more. Don't go away.


BROADDUS: Phil was a tremendous help. He has worked hard to find the person who committed this crime.

P. MCGRAW: I'm offering a substantial cash reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of these people.

BROADDUS: From the moment of the attack, I decided it was up to me, and I was going to live. Initially, I spent three weeks in the hospital. I underwent the first of many surgeries to repair my skin. The surgeries were not for vanity. They were for survival. It was baby steps. I returned home, and I went back to work six weeks after the accident.



KING: Book is "A Random Act," the author is Cindi Broaddus. With Cindi is Robin McGraw. Portland, Oregon, hello.

CALLER: Oh, hi, everyone. Well, Larry, you asked Cindi my question regarding the fear of overpasses, so I just have a quick statement. My son driver an 18-wheeler, and last Thursday night at midnight, a passenger in an oncoming car threw something and busted his windshield in his truck. At first they thought he had been shot at, but the police found the top to a bottle of cologne instead of a shell, so they think that's what it was. Now, my son's a Texas boy, and had he found the car, someone would have been boot kicked. He was shaken and very angry, and even though he wasn't hurt, it was very scary for my son and his wife. And after listening to your story, I feel very lucky.

KING: It's a gutless thing to do. There's no doubt about that -- the word chicken applies. That's chicken. Grass Valley, California, hello.



CALLER: I wanted to say, first of all, God keep blessing you, Cindi. You're amazing. And this happened to me as well, and it's the worst thing -- I couldn't explain it. This was a boulder, but is there a way we can get this message out to the kids, because it mainly the kids that are doing it, because they just think it's a game. They don't realize the consequences, and can we get stronger law passed, and, or, even encage those overpasses, so that this cannot happen anymore.

KING: Maybe that could work.

BROADDUS: Actually, that's what I started out -- that was my mission -- to get the overpasses, at least lit, where you could see somebody up there, or covered. What we did, toughening the penalty, was the first step in that.

KING: Did you put, like, cages on top where you could...

BROADDUS: Yes, some states have those cages already. When I've driven in Texas and Louisiana, I've seen that. As far as your other question, I -- my mission now is to go into the schools and show them what can happen when people do things like this. And just try to teach them at a young age.

KING: Is it thought that it's children, mostly?

BROADDUS: Just because the original suspect they told me was 17 years old.

KING: There was a suspect?

BROADDUS: There was a suspect.

KING: Chanute, Kansas, hello.

CALLER: Hello?

KING: Yes.

CALLER: I wanted to say, Larry, I enjoy your show every night.

KING: Thank you.

CALLER: I wanted to tell Cindi, I just glory in her attitude, and I plan on calling my library tomorrow and see if I can get her book. My question is, I have seen the beautiful pictures of you with your grandchildren. How many do you have and what are their ages?

BROADDUS: Oh, thank you so much. Great question. I have Kennedy (ph), who is 7, Carson (ph) who is 4, and Emma (ph), who will turn 2 at the end of this month. The lights of my life.

KING: And you are a doting grandmother?

BROADDUS: I am. Very proud grandmother.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with more to go and more phone calls for Cindi Broaddus and Robin McGraw. Don't go away.



BROADDUS: This experience has brought out a person in me that I didn't think I could ever be. I can't say that I'm glad that I was attacked. But if you ask me would I would go through the journey again to come out on the other end and see the kindness that I have seen, I would do it in a heartbeat.


KING: Newcastle, California, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. Thank you for taking my call.

KING: Sure. CALLER: Robin, love you, love Dr. Phil, and what a blessing to have a sister that you have sitting next to you. Cindi, you are an inspiration for everyone who's watching this program.

BROADDUS: Thank you.

CALLER: I want to thank you for putting this book out. It is going to touch everybody's lives that ends up reading this. You are beautiful from the inside to the out. And I want to...

BROADDUS: Thank you.

CALLER: I just have to ask you one thing. What gave you the strength to get through this nightmare? And I am like Dr. Phil. I want this person to be brought to justice, but I love you for what you feel.

BROADDUS: Well, thank you.

KING: By the way, Newcastle, Oklahoma is where this happened, right?

BROADDUS: Newcastle, Oklahoma is where this happened. And what gave me the strength was just my faith and my family and my friends. And just -- just making choices. I think that's the one thing Phil has impressed upon me more than anything. We all have a choice every day in everything. And I chose, I just chose not to be bitter. I chose to live life.

KING: Did you ever think of giving up?


KING: Never at all?


KING: To -- I think we lost -- is this Westfield, Indiana?

CALLER: Hi, no, this is Mary Haethy (ph) from Westport, Connecticut.

KING: OK, go ahead, you're on.

CALLER: I just -- words cannot express how beautiful you are inside and out. You make me want to be a better human being. And God bless you. And tomorrow, I will be out there and buy that book. I'm 39 years...

BROADDUS: Thank you.

CALLER: ... old sitting here looking at you, and you are absolutely gorgeous.

BROADDUS: Thank you very much.

CALLER: Inside and out. You make me want to be a better person. You have touched my heart completely. God bless you and your family.

BROADDUS: God bless you and thank you for the kind words.

KING: What a wonderful call. Pikeville, Kentucky, hello.

CALLER: Yes, hi, Cindi. I was wondering where your donor sites were from your grafts.

BROADDUS: My donor sites were from my knees to my thighs, all the way up.

KING: Did you have that done, ma'am?

CALLER: Yes, sir, I've had 21 skin grafts and reconstructive surgeries from my third-degree burn over 80 percent of my body.

KING: What was the pain like?

CALLER: Excuse my French, but it was pure hell.

BROADDUS: That's right. But you know what? I now -- I now think of you as one of the most courageous people that ever walked, and your bravery inspires me.

CALLER: Thank you, but lady, you need to inspire other people as you are and continue to do so.

BROADDUS: Thank you for your call.

KING: What hurts in the graft? They take the skin off -- let's say the knee, right, somewhere around the knee?

BROADDUS: They took it from the knee to the thigh. They take very thin layers, and so they leave exposed nerve endings. And they tell you that the pain will be -- will last seven to 10 days, and mine lasted every bit of 10 days. And...

KING: Oh, boy. And the skin grows back.

BROADDUS: The skin eventually grows back, but it's an unbelievable process.

KING: So when they take -- you're laying there with a never ending exposed.


KING: So like a whisper could have -- bring pain, right?

BROADDUS: When I came out of surgery, I was screaming. And you asked me if I ever wanted to give up, there was a time, right then, when I visited that possibility, that maybe I might have to give up. Because that -- my daughters could hold their hands over my thighs and they could feel the heat from my thighs through thicknesses of bandages. It is the most painful procedure that I have ever gone through and ever will go through. KING: Robin, how do you explain your sister?

R. MCGRAW: Oh, you know, I have to say, she has been a true hero all of her life. All of her life. So it doesn't surprise me that she has handled this horrible tragedy like she has, because she's always been there for everyone else. And so, you know, she's just a -- she's just a real hero.

KING: Are you saying of all the members of the family, she would have been the best equipped to handle this?

R. MCGRAW: Absolutely. Absolutely. I don't think I could have done it. I don't think -- oh, I don't think I could have done it. But you know, she's always stepped up. She's always done what she had to do. She's raised three children, all on her own, put them all through school, gave them all weddings. Worked three jobs to do it. One of them was throwing papers. This woman is unbelievable.

KING: How is Jim doing?

BROADDUS: Jim is doing really well. He was blessed with a grandchild a couple of years ago, which has tickled him to death. And he, like I said, in my opinion, Jim is the true hero in all of this.

KING: Did he have some grafting done, too?

BROADDUS: He did not have to have grafting done. Unfortunately for Jim, he got shingles shortly after we got out of the hospital.

KING: That's painful.

BROADDUS: That's very painful, and he's suffered with those.

KING: Thank you both. What a delight meeting you, Cindi.

BROADDUS: Thank you. Thank you very much.

KING: Thank you.

Wow, Cindi Broaddus, Dr. Phil's sister-in-law, author of a new book, "A Random Act." It's available everywhere books are sold. The foreword is by Dr. Phil McGraw. And Robin McGraw, Cindi's younger sister, Dr. Phil's wife. They are the guests tonight on LARRY KING LIVE.

Tomorrow night, we'll look at the -- there is a hearing scheduled in the accused BTK killer, or serial killer. That hearing is tomorrow during the day, and we'll talk about it tomorrow night. And of course, if a new pope is selected, we'll get into that too.

Right now, "NEWSNIGHT" is next, and Aaron Brown is in Oklahoma City. Don't go away.


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