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Shooter's Brother Speaks Out; $540,000,000 and Counting; French Raids Nab 20 Suspected Militants; Spike Lee Does The "Right Thing"

Aired March 30, 2012 - 05:00   ET


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

ALINA CHO, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Alina Cho. Zoraida Sambolin is off today.

We're bring you the news from to --


CHO: Today. That's right.

Five a.m. in the East.

We begin with your top stories.

CNN exclusive: George Zimmerman's brother speaks out.


ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, JR., GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S BROTHER: He's a neighbor that everybody would want to have.


CHO: Stunning details about what happened the night Trayvon Martin died and how George Zimmerman is handling all of the questions and controversies right now. That's as a new witness comes forward, claiming to have seen the deadly shooting and the aftermath.

BANFIELD: And chilling new video of those deadly tornados that flattened Henryville, Indiana. Take a look at your screen. Powerful pictures and sound from that school bus that was thrown through a restaurant window just minutes after children and diners escaped.

CHO: Unbelievable.

Horrific pictures of a 12-year-old girl being brutally beaten. Look at this. This morning, new developments involving four of the Rhode Island teenagers behind the attack.

BANFIELD: And are you feeling lucky this morning? Because millions of other folks like you are lining up for a world record lotto jackpot. The mega millions is now staggering. It's staggering $540 million, folks, that jackpot. And it could go up by more today as we continue to watch this story.

This morning, we've also got your odds of winning and some really good advice on how to play the very best numbers.

CHO: We're also asking the question, would you come back to work the next day?

BANFIELD: Heck, yes. I'm not so sure.

CHO: And a smaller jackpot on this highway. A crane with a huge magnet attached picking up millions of coins after a Brink's 18- wheeler leaves the road. We're going to tell you where it happened and how.

BANFIELD: Now, one minute past 5:00 a.m.

And we want to begin this morning with some new voices in this extraordinarily highly-charged debate over the death of Trayvon Martin and whether the man who shot him, George Zimmerman, acted in self- defense or not. We're hearing now from the first time from someone who claims to have witnessed this shooting and its aftermath. That person is speaking exclusively with CNN's "A.C. 360."


WITNESS: It was dark, but after the shots, obviously someone, a man, got up. And it was kind of like that period of him, I can't say I watched him get up, but maybe only within only like a couple seconds or so, then he was walking towards where I was watching. And I could see him a little bit clearer. I could see it was a Hispanic man, and he was, you know, didn't appear hurt or anything else.


BANFIELD: CNN has altered the voice of that witness and we are not disclosing whether it is a male or female.

And in the meantime, we have yet another exclusive for you at CNN. George Zimmerman's own brother coming to his defense here on our air.

CNN's Martin Savidge live in Sanford, Florida.

Martin, run through the things Zimmerman's brother said and whether there was anything really significant regarding details to this crime that he was able to fill us in on.


As you say, the family of George Zimmerman continues to stand behind him and more of them continue to speak out. The latest is now the brother, the older brother, that is Robert Zimmerman, Jr. He was on "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" last night.

And, first of all, he launched into more detail as to the actual struggle and how this life and death situation played out. Listen.


ZIMMERMAN: The gun, I believe, was in his inside -- tucked inside his pant waist.

PIERS MORGAN, HOST, CNN'S PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT: Right. So he has pulled it out and fired it.

ZIMMERMAN: Well, he has taken control of his firearm. He prevented his firearm from being taken from him and used against him. And that's called saving your life.

What Trayvon said was either to the effect of, I believe, you -- this is going to be easy, you die tonight or you have a piece, you die tonight -- and then attempted to disarm him. So, when you say have a bag of Skittles and an ice tea, nobody just stood there with a bag of Skittles and an ice tea. You return force with force when somebody assaults you.


SAVIDGE: The other thing that the Zimmerman family talked about when they referred to George is the emotional toll, the impact all of this has had. They say that George Zimmerman is not the person he was prior to the shooting. Again, the brother.


ZIMMERMAN: He has very severe emotional injuries. He has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. He was not right from the moment it happened. He didn't call his family and express anything but, you know, sadness.

It was just a darkness. He had changed. He wasn't the same. He would never be the same.

He was very disappointed that none of the neighbors had come out and helped. That the whole situation potentially could have been avoided by just someone coming out and saying, hey, what's going on out there?


SAVIDGE: That is an interesting point. There were a lot of people who were on the telephone to the police department. Many of them said they heard cries of help. And that those cries of help went on for some time. But apparently nobody went outside, nobody intervened, and the Zimmerman family says perhaps if they had, this whole tragedy could have been averted.

We should point out, of course, that Robert, just like his father, George Zimmerman's father yesterday, was not an eyewitness to this. What he is retelling is what George Zimmerman told them -- Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: All right. Martin Savidge, live for us this morning in Sanford, Florida -- thank you.

CHO: Out west, firefighters say they are finally gaining a little bit of ground on a deadly wildfire in the foothills west of Denver, Colorado. The fire has already killed an elderly couple. More than 4,000 acres have burned. At least 27 homes are confirmed destroyed so far.

And at this hour, one woman is missing inside the fire zone. In fact, a team of 32 people, six dogs, have covered some 200 acres so far, but so far no luck.

BANFIED: Just awful.

CHO: Yes.

BANFIELD: You see those pictures and you think how quickly that probably happened and how fast those people have to leave. And at last count, we know that the blaze was 45 percent contained. That's what officials said as far late yesterday.

Rob Marciano, live in the CNN weather center.

Weather always plays in so heavily as to what's going to happen in the future of these fires. What's going on?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, they had good weather yesterday. That's one of the reasons they got a handle on this thing. Plus, extra manpower.

Today, the weather will be good, but going forward not so much.

Here's the weather forecast for the fire zone in Colorado. Relatively light winds, but low levels of humidity once again today, between 11 percent and 17 percent. We could see winds gust in the afternoon to about 20 miles an hour. That's about as best as you could hope for.

As we get to tomorrow though, there's a very potent system coming through the West Coast, for this time of year certainly. Gusts 40 miles to 60 miles an hour across parts of Nevada and the sierras. This piece of wind energy will be getting into the fire zone tomorrow.

Look at this complex coming through just south of the border of Mexico. This is what it looked like yesterday afternoon in Monterey, Mexico. Two women driving down the road there saw this.

They are saying things like, well, we're scared, but we're OK, it doesn't go up mountains. They got closer and said let's pick our seat belts up in case it picks us up. Unbelievable how close they got there.

I guess ignorance is bliss there. There's not many tornados that come through this part of the world for sure. My goodness, that one is vivid. There was one tractor trailer that was turned over the side of the road that those ladies passed as this storm and tornado passed over the road that they were driving down.

All right. Another little complex running through Louisiana right now, pretty tame, but later on today, we'll likely see thunderstorms that may bring damaging winds and isolated tornadoes across the Ohio River Valley, stretching up towards western Pennsylvania as these two complexes move this way.

Decent day for New York City, but the potential, at least across parts of northern New England and the Northeast of maybe seeing some snow during the day tomorrow.

BANFIELD: Rob, I just have to reiterate. As you were showing that video and those ladies were watching that tornado get bigger and bigger, I notice they went right under an underpass and kept on going.

Please give our viewers advice if you are driving, you don't go away from an underpass. You stay under the underpass. It's your only hope of survival.

MARCIANO: Yes. Underpasses, get in a ditch. You may want to get out of the car at some point, but that was after this -- the tornado itself passed the road.

Earlier in this video, you can actually see it on the left side of the road. They're barreling right towards it. They slow down, stop, wait for it to pass, and then this is on the right side. Anyway.

BANFIELD: There's the safety of the underpass, the trucker knew to stop and stay under the underpass. Oh, Lord.

CHO: Not sure how the seat belts would have helped this that situation.

MARCIANO: Always buckle up.

CHO: Yes, exactly.

BANFIELD: Rob, thanks.

CHO: Rob Marciano, thank you very much.

MARCIANO: All right, guys.

CHO: We got a lotto going on.

BANFIELD: Oh, do we? Really? You wouldn't know from the cover of the "New York Post." It's unbelievable, folks -- "Fortune Hunters".

CHO: Did you buy a ticket?

BANFIELD: Heck, yes. I was on the whole office pool.

CHO: You know, originally I was going to cover this story today and I say, great, I'm going to a convenience store and buy a ticket, or maybe five or maybe a hundred.

BANFIELD: You're not in the office pool?

CHO: I got to get in.

BANFIELD: I got a guy.

CHO: You know, the question, of course, everyone is asking is, what would I do with all of that money? A record $540 million and counting -- the largest lotto jackpot in history. It is absolute mega millions madness.

Forty-two states, D.C., the Virgin Islands, people like me dreaming of what they will spend it on as they line up for a shot of the jackpot?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We made it, finally.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were in line from the desert. I'm going to take care of my family, and friends, we are doing a dog sanctuary, animal sanctuary, and then taking care of soldiers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would make a lot of my grand kids happy, a lot of family happy.


CHO: Generous guy.

All right. Alison Kosik is live in Times Square with more on this.

So, Alison, it's so early, 10 minutes after 5:00 on the East Coast. People out there are buying tickets?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they are. They're coming in, Alina. They are buying coffee. They're buying donuts. And they're buying tickets.

They're buying a lot of tickets. Yes, and it's only 5:00 in the morning.

It's amazing. The jackpot right now is sitting at $540 million. And you're wondering, how did it get this high?

Well, what happened was the last time someone won the jackpot with the mega millions was back on January 24th. A woman in Georgia took home the $72 million jackpot there. But since then, the jackpot literally rolled over 18 times, Alina, 18 times. No one has won it.

So today, tonight could be the night. You want to play?

All right. Let's throw up that map and see if you fit into this situation where you can buy mega million tickets. It's played in 42 states including the U.S. Virgin Islands and Washington, D.C. But it's not played in places like Alaska, Florida and Hawaii.

So what do you do? Send some money to some of your friends in states where it is played.

But this is a record jackpot. Lottery officials say that this is the biggest ever. You want some proof? The last time we saw jackpots anywhere coming close, back in 2007, 2009, even last year, but none come close to $540 million.

And you know what I'm seeing as people funnel through here and buy their breakfast and their lottery tickets? A lot of people are buying lottery tickets and they never played before. They say, you know what, I got that lotto fever. I'm buying in today -- Alina.

CHO: All right. Alison Kosik, thank you very much. We'll check in with you all morning long.

BANFIELD: Eleven minutes past 5:00. Lots of tickets still to be sold. And you don't need to live in New York to know about this lottery institution. Have a listen.


YOLANDA VEGA, NEW YORK STATE LOTTERY EMPLOYEE: Good evening, everyone. For the New York Lottery, I'm Yolanda Vega.


BANFIELD: You betcha, Yolanda Vega, the boys of the New York State Lottery. She's going to join us to talk about not only this record breaker, but the last time she was in on calling the numbers for the record breaker. What's the secret?

CHO: I just met her this morning. It was like the most exciting part of my morning.

Incredible video. Take a look at this a tornado picking up a school bus and tearing it to shreds. Kids were inside that bus just minutes before, and they had the bus driver to thank for saving their lives. If you are heading out the door, you will want to set the DVR for this one.

BANFIELD: And you will not believe how close it came. But take a look at these pictures, video -- a motorcycle dodging a car that spins out of control. There's the motorcycle, and you're going to find out how this things ends -- in just a moment.


BANFIELD: Your odds of winning are 176 million to one. Who cares, right? It's $540 million we're talking about here. It's the jackpot.

And you have to be in it to win it, right? That's what they always say. It's mega millions, folks. Lottery fever hitting much of the country.

And at 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time tonight, the numbers will be announced.

Forty-two states in our Union, as well as the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands are in this game, including New York state.

And who better to talk than the queen of lottery herself? No one can quite say her name the way she can. Have a listen.


VEGA: Good evening, everyone. For the New York lottery, I'm Yolanda Vega.


BANFIELD: For more than 22 years, Yolanda Vega has been calling the New York lottery number winners, and she's become something of an icon.

And joining us live in the studio today is -- I'm not even going to say your name, because I do not do it justice. You have to give me your name the way you do it best.

VEGA: Good morning, Ashleigh. I'm Yolanda Vega.


BANFIELD: You know, it's funny. You talk to people who are not even from New York and they know you.

VEGA: Yes.

BANFIELD: You've been doing this for 22 years now.

VEGA: Over 22 years, yes.

BANFIELD: So, when a story like this breaks, all of a sudden you become this massive presence in New York City. You can't even walk down the street right now, I'm sure without people saying touch me, give me some kind of luck. Tell me what I need to know.

What do people need to know?

VEGA: Well, what they need to know is a ticket basically is the ticket just costs $1. There are a lot of people playing that have never played before because of the enormous jackpot. And that's wonderful, everyone's got this mega millions fever, and I'd just tell them, go in and by $1 of quick pick.

BANFIELD: Just $1.

VEGA: One dollar. Let the machine select your random winning numbers, hopefully. And take another dollar and think about -- you know, everybody plays the birthdays, anniversaries, kids' ages. That's all good. Maybe a dollar on that.

But put a dollar down on whatever five numbers, six numbers come to you. Maybe those are the ones that win.

BANFIELD: So, I guess that the strategy here would be that if you pick birthdays and anniversaries, you're always going to have low numbers, right?

VEGA: Well, absolutely. If the numbers come in between one and 31, you're going to share. And that's all good, because $540 million is a lot of money, so why not share?

But if you get in on a random quick pick, and you get these really bizarre numbers, you get it all by yourself.

BANFIELD: At this point I don't know that anyone is strategizing about, you know, I really just want to win this by myself. I don't want to have to share. So, I'm going to choose accordingly.

I just want to go over some statistics on your chances of winning because I think, look, we all love to jump in on it. We know we're probably not going to win, likely more than anything, we're not going to win.

But when you see the actual numbers, it's remarkable. The big number is that you have one in 175 -- almost 176 million to one.

VEGA: Correct.

BANFIELD: That's your odds right there.

VEGA: Correct.

BANFIELD: That's a lot of numbers. And if people can't really think about what that really means, here's what it really means according to the Harvard University Center for Risk Analysis.

Your odds of being killed by lightning are 3 million to one. Your odds from dying from flesh-eating bacteria, a million to 1. And your odds of dying from a bee sting, 6.1 million to one.

So, I mean, it is really remarkable. I mean, you just -- I think if anything, is your dollar a chance to win or is your dollar a bit of camaraderie getting in on the social fun that everyone is thrilled about?

VEGA: It is a chance to win. And a lot of people are thinking about the big jackpot. But you know what? If you get the five number then you don't get the mega millions number, you still win in the state of New York, $250,000, actually throughout all 42 states, you still win $250,000.

BANFIELD: Quarter mil. Quarter mil.

VEGA: A quarter million dollars. There is a chance to win any price, one in 34, those are odds.

BANFIELD: Did you buy a ticket?

VEGA: We can't play at the New York lottery.

BANFIELD: You can't?


BANFIELD: I tell you what, if I win, I'll take you to breakfast.

VEGA: That will be awesome. A lot of friends are playing. We encourage groups to play. We just recently had a big winner. We had a group in Albany, the Albany seven last year, seven people pooled their money together and won $319 million.

BANFIELD: We are already way ahead of you, this whole group has done.

Yolanda Vega, nice to meet you.

VEGA: Thank you. Good luck to you guys.

BANFIELD: Feel the presence of that incredible voice. Thanks so much.

VEGA: Thank you. Good luck.

BANFIELD: Alina, back to you.

CHO: Best part of the day, meeting Yolanda Vega. Thanks so much, Ashleigh.

Still ahead, change for change. Our neighbors to the north getting rid of the penny, could we be next?

And your morning just got a little bit more expensive. We'll have a check of the gas prices and the unbelievable rise just since the start of the year. That's next.


CHO: Just in this morning, gas rising four-tenths this morning, almost half a penny. This is the 21st day in a row that it's gone up. Gas prices now are averaging $3.93 for a gallon of regular self serve. We're close to that $4 mark.

BANFIELD: We are it's up 65 cents, too, from the beginning of the year.

Christina Romans is minding your business today.

You know, you keep saying, guys, it's not going to go back down. But why is it going to keep going up?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's going to keep going up, but it's going to keep going up probably through mid-April to May. A lot of the people who follow this say it's going to be a few more weeks of this.

And you got gas prices are already up some 20 percent from the start of the year. I mean, take a look at how prices have seesawed just during the Obama presidency. You can see that it's been a slow and steady advance. And, you know, prices go up and down. But we're trying to show you kind of the longer term here.

When the president took office in late January of 2009, gas prices were about $1.80 a gallon. Why were they so low? Because we were actually, remember, in the middle of a very terrible recession.

Since then prices have gone up and down, and then gone up again to right around where they are now, almost $4 a gallon. The highest since back in 2008, that's when George W. Bush was still president.

And higher gas prices hit American families hard. That's why every day you are complaining about gas prices. They're so dependent on our cars to get around. This is something you feel every week.

Take a look at these numbers. Let's assume for argument sake that gas prices stay static over year's time. Look at how much American families can expect to pay at current prices at the pump. When you are talking about $2 -- you know, when you're talking about gas prices at this level, you are talking about $4,300 a year in costs to your family. That compares with, if you're talking about $1.85 a gallon, more like $2,000.

So, people are seeing big increases on what they're paying out of pocket. Now, gas doesn't stay at the same price, they go up and they go down. And they go up and they go down.

But, basically, families are paying a couple thousand dollars more than they were even a couple of years ago for gas. That's why this is such a political story. That's why on the campaign trail, people want to blame someone or the other, and there's a lot of misinformation about what makes gas prices go up and down.

One last point I will say, this is one of the reasons why the White House was so keen on the payroll tax holiday and keeping it going, that's another $1,000. That takes some of the sting out. You get a little more money in your paycheck even though you're paying more at the tank. These are the kinds of things that we're talking about.

CHO: It was so shocking. I was just looking at this poll that came out yesterday that we conducted saying that the number of Americans who say that gas prices are the most important economic problem facing the country has more than tripled since December. I was really surprised by that.

BANFIELD: That's because they feel it every day.

CHO: You know what? I was still surprised. You know, with everything else going on, I was surprised by that.

ROMANS: You know, the thing is, this might be one of the thing that's president has the least control over. He can tap the strategic petroleum reserve. He can make sure he manages what's happening in Iran as carefully as possible.

The rest of the world is gobbling up oil. We are using more oil than ever before, and that's not going to change. And that means that U.S. is not necessarily moving the needle anymore.

BANFIELD: As you like to put it, drinking up the dead dinosaurs.

ROMANS: Yes, burning dead dinosaurs.

BANFIELD: Christine Romans, I guess, thank you.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

CHO: Thanks, Christine.

Ahead on EARLY START, never before seen video of a school bus driver with 11 children on board -- just look at this -- face to face with a tornado. We're talking about 175-mile-an-hour winds. So what happens next? We're going to tell you about that.

BANFIELD: And former President George H.W. Bush endorsing Mitt Romney and then asks him a question that makes for an awkward moment. We'll bring it to you in just a moment.

You're watching EARLY START.


BANFIELD: It is 30 minutes past the hour on the east coast, 5:30. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

CHO: Good morning, everybody. I'm Alina Cho in for Zoraida this morning. It's time to check the stories making news this morning.


CHO (voice-over): $540 million and counting. Millions lining up for a world record lottery jackpot. The mega millions now, a staggering $540 million, and it's expected to shoot up again this afternoon. That's because so many people buying tickets. The big drawing, tonight at 11:00.

BANFIELD (voice-over): Wow. Yes, and we're on it, in case you're wondering.

Also happening overseas, a massive raid in France today. Twenty suspected Islamic militants taken into custody. Most of the arrests happening in Toulouse. And if that sounds familiar, that's where a gunman killed seven people, including three young children earlier this month. It is not clear if there is any connection between that case and today's raid.

CHO: Filmmaker, Spike Lee, doing the right thing for a mistake he made after re-tweeting an address claiming to be the home of Trayvon Martin's shooter, George Zimmerman. Lee has agreed to pay for the couple's expenses after they had to move out. Can you believe this? Elaine and David McClain's attorney says they received hate mail and feared for their lives. Lee is paying them an undisclosed amount of money.

BANFIELD: And take a very close look at this. A motorcycle dodging a car that's spinning out of control. Look. Whoa. Imagine this? He makes it. He makes it. This is a highway in San Antonio. It basically looks like he went right through the car.

CHO: That is unbelievable.

BANFIELD: Yes, but you look close and that guy has nine lives. The video was posted on YouTube. It is not clear why anybody was actually rolling on this. But the car missed the bike by just a few inches, it looks like, and kept on going. So, if you're out there, buddy, please buy a mega millions ticket today.

CHO: Unbelievable. You're Canadian, explain this to me. So, they're ditching the penny in Canada.

BANFIELD: Are they?

CHO: Did you know this?

BANFIELD: I didn't know this.


CHO (on-camera): The government says it's going to save $11 million a year, because it costs more than a cent to produce one. Yes. Just like it does right here --


CHO: Pennies will now be rounded up or down. People are being urged to donate the pennies they have to charity. I don't know. I hold on to mine, wouldn't you? For just a (INAUDIBLE)

BANFIELD (on-camera): You know, I cannot stand the bulk in my wallet.

CHO: Really?

BANFIELD: I'm a little torn on this, because --

CHO: Anyway, there's already a movement here to follow Canada and get rid of the U.S. penny. So, wait and see whether that happens.

BANFIELD: And you know, for retailers who like that, you know, $1.99, that sort of thing, it's tricky. It's a sticky wicket, but it is a pain in the butt for women who carry purses and wallets and really can't stand this stuff.

CHO: That is true.

BANFIELD: So, enough talk about the chump change. We're just hours away from being billionaires, because we really feel we're going to win. Can you believe it? We're in the office pool, and the mega millions is a record $540 million. So, it well over a half billion now.

CHO: It's unbelievable. It's rolled over 18 times over the past nine weeks, hasn't been a winner since January 24th, right? So, Alison Kosik is our girl who's following this. She's live in Times Square. The ticket buying has already started, hasn't it, Alison?

KOSIK: It has. Right now, it's a little quiet. We've hit a little bit of a lull. But, you know, as people have been buying their coffee and their doughnuts this morning, they're also buying those lotto tickets, and you know what, they may not be here now, but they've been dreaming, there's been a lot of dreaming over here about, if they won, what would they do with the money? And we actually talked to some people yesterday and listen to what they had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: First of all, I have to go to church (INAUDIBLE) and I told my son that I was going to buy a block in Brooklyn to open up a school and a community center.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. I'd try to help people. I'd be getting a lot of phone calls.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Day dream is to help a lot of people that could use it, because if you win that much money, there's plenty for everybody.


KOSIK: See, so New Yorkers, you know what, they get a bad rap for being rude and nasty, but come on. There are a lot of people who say, you know what, I'll give away the money. I want to help others. I want to give to family members. All right. But if you're of the selfish type, here are some things that you can do, as well.

You and 29 million of your favorite friends can go see "The Hunger Games." Check out how many rings you can buy. So, you know, that beautiful sapphire ring. Yes, that. Yes, you can buy a lot of things for $540 million, but it would actually wind up being 389 million, Alina, because yes, that is after taxes.

CHO: You can buy a half million 4G iPads.

KOSIK: I know. I was just looking --

(CROSSTALK) BANFIELD: I want to test you on this one. If you stack the iPads up, Alina, how high would they go? I'm kidding.


BANFIELD: That would be so unfair. All right. Keep an eye out for crazy people going crazy in line today. Alison Kosik for us.

KOSIK: You got it.

BANFIELD: It's 35 minutes now past 5:00, and we have some unbelievable video. You really got to watch this. So, if you're brushing your teeth, put down the toothbrush, come to your TV. This is what happened when those deadly tornadoes tore through the Midwest earlier on this month.

Storms that actually ended up killing 14 people in the state of Indiana. The number could have been a lot higher if not for a very fast-thinking school bus driver in the city of Henryville. So, we'll show you the picture of her bus.

BANFIELD: This is the video that she had -- well, this is the video first of the tornado itself, which is absolutely remarkable in its own right. This is a massive F4 tornado that struck on March 2nd at 3:00 p.m. Angel Perry (ph) was driving 11 of her students home from school when she radioed dispatch. Listen to what she said about what she saw.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm about a minute and half from the school.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is 210, I am on (INAUDIBLE) and I see a tornado touchdown about one mile from me.



BANFIELD: Yes. Oh, my gosh is right. Angel had to make a very quick decision, and she made that decision to turn around, head back to the school, get there and get those kids off the bus fast.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody stay together. The group together right now. Go. Go, go, go, go. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine. Come on. Come on. Ten, eleven, go. Go, go.


BANFIELD: Calm and cool. Look at the video from her school bus security camera three minutes after the kids got off the bus.

CHO: Oh, man.

BANFIELD: Look at this. Hail and 175-mile-an-hour winds ripping through that bus. The kids are inside the school at this point, and they're safe. But that 18-ton bus wounded up being launched across the street. Look where it ended up. Right across the street, stabbing into a local diner. Our Soledad O'Brien had a chance to talk to the owner of that restaurant a little earlier on this month.


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN HOST, "STARTING POINT": Behind you, I see this big giant bus going through the window of your brand new restaurant, which, my understanding is, you put $100,000 in to build it and you are not insured. What's the plan now?

MAUREEN WILLIAMS, OWNED BUDROE'S RESTAURANT: Don't know. I know we have to go forward. And wherever that road takes, we'll soon find out. But, like he said, it's these people that have lost their homes, you know? They have nothing.


BANFIELD: And ultimately, people who lost their lives. So, it's a miracle those kids are OK. And we thank that bus driver.

CHO: Yes, and it's incredible. We didn't know the back story at the time of what happened inside that bus, but when you hear the driver counting, one, two, three, I mean, the kids --

BANFIELD: The calm, too.

CHO: Unbelievable.

BANFIELD: Critical calm. There's that story again, Alina. She saw a tornado touching down, and she run for it. She went for the safety. Other people watch, and they film it, and they keep on driving.

CHO: Right, right.

BANFIELD: You got to get to safety.

CHO: She had 11 kids on the board that bus, so --

BANFIELD: Big difference.

CHO: That's right.

All right. Moving on now, we want to move on to the campaign trail. CNN has confirmed a meeting between presidential candidates, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.

Not clear what they discussed or whether they cut any deals, but sources do tell CNN that it happened last weekend in Louisiana, taking place right before that state's primary, which, by the way, Rick Santorum won. Sources told CNN's John King that the meeting was, quote, "productive and pleasant."

BANFIELD: Thirty-eight minutes past 5:00 now. A bit of an awkward moment on the campaign trail for Mitt Romney. GOP frontrunner picked up an endorsement in Houston yesterday from former President George H. Walker Bush. But afterwards, reporters wanted to know if Mitt Romney had heard from George W. Bush in town.

And listen to what Romney's answer was, and then, listen carefully as George Bush's dad leans in and asks Romney a question.


MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, I haven't met with President George W. Bush. We speak from time to time.


ROMNEY: Uh, no, no.

BARBARA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY: We'll talk about that.


CHO: That's right. Bush, 43, has not yet endorsed Mitt Romney. So, did you hear what Barbara Bush said? She said, you know, always a mom. She said, we're going to have to talk about that.


BANFIELD: We'll have to talk about that, dear. Yes. I love it.

CHO: We'll she what she tells her son later on --


CHO: Or not.

BANFIELD: And it is 39 minutes now past 5:00. Still ahead, yes, you just got on that flight. Remember those flights that you've been on before where kids are misbehaving so badly?

CHO: Oh, this story.

BANFIELD: Sometimes, kids are so bad it actually effects the actual flight path, and parents who are powerless to stop them struggle to get over this. You won't believe what happened to one set of the parents.

CHO: As our executive producer, Shannon, said imagine being the parents of those kids?

BANFIELD: You're going to hear all about it.

CHO: We're going to tell you about it. Meanwhile, three firefighters in Michigan are in very tight spot. Roof collapses right under them. Look at that dramatic video. We're going to tell you how it all turned out. You are watching EARLY START.


CHO: Shot of the capitol in Washington, D.C., our nation's capitol. It is 44 degrees, going up to a high of a balmy 64. It's 44 minutes after the hour. Checking your top stories now.


CHO (voice-over): $540 million and counting. Millions lining up for a world record lotto jackpot. Expected to shoot up again this afternoon. And the big drawing, at 11:00 p.m. eastern tonight.

A Pennsylvania teacher accused of driving drunk and hitting five high school students. The teacher is facing multiple felony charges. Three of the students had to be hospitalized but are expected to survive.

Thirty itchy kids after a crop duster drops a pesticide on their school bus. Oh, man! This happened in Bakersfield, California. Poor kids. Firefighters said a crop duster slightly over sprayed and hit the bus. Slightly. I see. Asthma teams were at the school waiting for the bus.

Dramatic video of three firefighters in Dearborn, Michigan battling a fire at dry cleaning business and look at what is about to happen. The men were trying to poke a hole in the roof to ventilate the building, and that's when it gave way. Two of the firefighters barely pulled their partner to safety. They were all OK -- Ashleigh.


BANFIELD: Oh, Alina, that video.

CHO: I know.

BANFIELD: It's harrowing. Look at those brave men.

CHO: Wow!

BANFIELD: Good Lord. Thank God they're OK. That tells you, doesn't it, how dangerous their job is. All right. Thanks, Alina.

Another disruption in the sky to tell you about and the troublemakers this time, two kids. Mm-hmm. Two kids. The crew of a Sky West operated Alaska Airlines flight from Long Beach, California to Portland, Oregon, asked police to meet their flight on Tuesday after two young kids refused to stay in their seatbelts and buckle up.

Joining me now is the international president of the Association of Flight Attendants, Veda Shook. It's like deja vu all over again, Veda. This is the second time I'm talking to you now, or at least, we're talking to you in two days. And again, it's about disruptions on flights, but this time, Veda, kids are the culprit.

And I got to say, I'm not exactly clear why police had to be called because kids wouldn't buckle up. Could you help me out with this one?

VEDA SHOOK, INTL. ASSOCIATION OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS: Well, sure. Just to give a background. It was a whole family traveling together. So, it was a family of four. So, I don't know if it's entirely, you know, the children, but it's also about the parents. So, obviously, passengers are required to wear their seatbelts for every takeoff and landing.

And there's a reason why, because that can prevent injury and unfortunate -- very unlikely event of a crash could save your life. It's also an issue in flight that when the seat belt sign is on, you're required to remain seated with your seatbelts fastened, and also, that your keep your seatbelt fastened at all times when you don't, otherwise, need to be up.

It is my understanding that not only was that not happening, but then, there was the refusal to comply with the crew member instructions.

BANFIELD: So, a refusal meaning I don't care that my kids don't have their seatbelt on? It's not a problem? Or a refusal I can't get my three-year-old, because apparently, there's a three-year-old and an eight-year-old, I can't get my three-year-old to stop this tantrum?

SHOOK: Well, I wasn't on the flight. I haven't spoken with any of the crew members or the passengers, just from what reports that I've read. So, I understand as a flight attendant that it can be, you know, challenging for a three-year-old.

Obviously, we wouldn't, you know, believe that they would have that cognitive ability to fully understand the issue of, you know, having to have your seatbelt fastened, but working with the parent to encourage the child to comply or to fasten the seatbelt. And it's about making sure that the parents understand the rules and regulations.

BANFIELD: And we were trying to get to the bottom of it, too, Veda. I got to say. I mean, you know, everybody has been all over Alaska Airlines to try to get some kind of information about just what exactly happen on board of flight that would require you to radio ahead and have police meet the family at the door.

This is all but Alaska Airlines would tell us in the statement. They said, "During the flight, the children became disruptive and wouldn't stay in their seats and wouldn't fasten their seatbelts, which is against federal regulations."

So, here's my thought, if it were the parents -- because, clearly, I don't think they want to arrest a three-year-old nor an eight-year-old, but if it were the parents who were seriously disrupting and endangering lives of other passengers or at least their children's lives or their own lives, wouldn't they have been arrested?

Because as I understand it, they weren't. They were actually just escorted to their connecting flight, and there were no other incidents. SHOOK: So, I've been flying for 23 years, and it's incredibly unlikely that you have to actually call law enforcement.


SHOOK: It's about the escalation of an event. And so, if the flight attendant is letting the passengers know what the rules and regulations are and why, and if there's not follow-through and if it becomes disruptive to the fellow passengers or becomes a safety issue, then the flight attendant called the pilot, and the pilot made reminder announcements, it's my understanding.

And then, when those were still not adhered to, other passengers had described that the parents were not cooperating with the crew member instructions, then they felt compelled, the crew did, to have law enforcement meet the flight on the ground to reinforce the rules and explain those to the parents that they would understand. And they did and took a following flight.

BANFIELD: I'll tell you, it's got every one of us out there who's ever had to fly with a child under the age of five shaking our heads and fearing for our next flight. I'm one of them, I got to be honest.

SHOOK: Well, I want to say -- I can appreciate that as a parent. I'm a parent of two, and I understand the stresses, and all flight attendants do, of traveling with your children. So, we want to make your flight safe and comfortable.

BANFIELD: All right. Veda Shook, it's good to see you. I hope I don't have to see you again. I don't like to say that to a guest, but when it comes to you, I hope we don't meet under these circumstances again.

SHOOK: Not under these circumstances. Thank you.

BANFIELD: And good luck with your mega millions ticket if you bought one.


SHOOK: You, too.

BANFIELD: All right. Have good weekend, Veda Shook. Thanks -- Alina.

CHO: All right. Ashleigh, thanks.

This is a story you don't want to miss. Ahead on EARLY START, it really got our attention here in the newsroom. A new report on Osama Bin Laden's life on the run post 9/11. Just how many times he moved, how many children he fathered. Bin Laden's wife is speaking out.

And what's the big deal about this car and driver? Well, the driver is blind, and the car is driving itself. It's Google's amazing test ride. We're going to show it to you. You're watching EARLY START.


BANFIELD: Is it that time of the morning when we like to take a look at what's trending on the interweb. Google's blind test drive. Have a look.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look, mom, no hands.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No hands anywhere.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No hands, no feet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No hands, no feet, no nothing.



BANFIELD: He said, look, mom, no hands, because he's blind, and he's behind the wheel. Google posting this on YouTube. One of the test drivers -- he's one of the test drivers that's something called a self-driving car. This thing stops at stop signs and using sensors. It even took the guy through -- are you ready? Look closely, it's a taco bell drive through. It took him through a taco bell drive through.

CHO: Does it order for you as well?

BANFIELD: I love this. Imagine the things that it will allow those with certain disabilities to do?

CHO: Oh my, Lord.

BANFIELD: Google's car.

CHO: Or women who need to put their makeup on in the car in the way to work, right?

BANFIELD: Oh, Alina, how about that?

CHO: I'm just saying. Some people need that extra time.


CHO: Calling it drunk karaoke --


CHO: -- in the back of a police cruiser. That's right. Guy was picked up by the royal Canadian mounted police for being intoxicated. After he rants for a while, he goes right into Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody." And sings the entire song. I mean, how do you know all the words, right? Watch the highlight.





CHO: Whoa! So, here's what I'm thinking the Mounty in the front, because I know my Mounty is probably is rocking to it.


CHO: Hold it, right? Well, that straight out on Wayne's (ph) world.


BANFIELD: OK. So, here's something we really loved. Talk about wiping with your words. I hate to say it, but there is a new website out there that wants to print all your Twitter feeds on your toilet paper roll.

CHO: Come on.

BANFIELD: I'm not kidding. Honestly. You can pick your favorite celebrity tweets or you can have your own tweets on a roll. So, look at your screen, because I can't say this. The company's name starts with S-H and rhymes with twitter.

CHO: Well, anyway --

BANFIELD: Yes. You got it. The slogan is social media has never been so disposable, but here's the catch. It's about $9 a roll.

CHO: Yes, we'll see --

BANFIELD: There you go.

CHO: There you go.

BANFIELD: It's kind of a party --

CHO: Yes, I was going to say. The business model not so smart.

BANFIELD: A 130 million tweets a day, I think, we're spitting out these days. Who reads this? Might as well end up in your toilet paper roll.

CHO: That's true.

BANFIELD: I'm just saying.

CHO: Coming up, millions of dollars, millions of dreams. That's right. You're looking at live pictures of a lottery hot spot right in New York City's Times Square. People lining up, taking their shot at the biggest lotto jackpot of all time. A live report is just ahead.

BANFIELD: And also, an exclusive interview with George Zimmerman's brother. He reveals new details about exactly what happened the moments before Trayvon Martin was shot dead according to his brother and what this family is now going through. You're watching EARLY START.