Return to Transcripts main page


Major Flooding in California; Football Tragedy; CNN's Hero of the Year; Egypt's High Court Shut Down; Dolphin Bite at SeaWorld Caught on Video

Aired December 3, 2012 - 05:00   ET


ALINA CHO, CNN ANCHOR: Massive and widespread flooding hits California in a major way. We'll have a live report straight ahead.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: The Kansas City Chiefs pull off a win the day after one of their own commits suicide. New details about his death, the murder of his girlfriend and what happens to their 3-month- old baby.

CHO: And an entire town is evacuated this morning. Find out the unusual reason why in just two minutes.

Good morning, everybody. Welcome to EARLY START for a Monday morning.


CHO: It's hard to get up on a Monday, isn't it?

SAMBOLIN: It sure is.

CHO: Good morning, everybody. I'm Alina Cho. John Berman has the day off.

SAMBOLIN: Nice to have you, Alina.

I'm Zoraida Sambolin. Today is December 3rd. And it is 5:00 a.m. here in the East.

So, the rain keeps coming in northern California. The third Pacific storm in five days, can you believe it, unleashing floodwaters and knocking out power to thousands in San Francisco, Sacramento and several other communities as well.

People who have lived in the region for decades say they have never seen anything quite like it.


REGINA KORNBRUST, FLOOD VICTIM: This thing just went up fast, real fast. We had previously had it gotten up high, but it hasn't gotten this bad.

REPORTER: You live right here in the park?

KORNBRUST: Right there.

REPORTER: Right there.

KORNBRUST: Right there. I got my mom out. I took her down to a friend's house down the street. You never know with water like this, what it will do.

TERRY PHORMAN, WITNESS: People are evacuating out of the park. They are trying to totally get out. And as you can see in the park, you can't get out. I had to park up the hill and walk down the side hill to get in here. So, it's really, really, it's very bad in here.


SAMBOLIN: What a mess. Rob Marciano has been tracking the storms that have been soaking northern California.

Is there more rain on the way, Rob?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: There is. Not today, today we get a break, but in some areas, rivers and small streams are on the rise and another pulse of energy pointing its way right at northern California. So it will be the fourth pulse of heavy wind, rain and snow coming into this area over a five-day period.

Look at some of the damage out of Oakland. We have a number of homes damaged because of flooding and rains there, not only in the Lafayette area. Also, roads damaged in this area as well. So, this is widespread, across the Bay Area, up to Shasta, Eureka, and through the southern parts of Oregon, just the infrastructure just can't handle this moisture and underwashing some of these roadways.

Also, rescues in the Prescott (ph) area, high water rescues yesterday and over the weekend. You can just imagine when some of these small streams come up and over the top of these roadways, if you're driving through them people get stuck. And the crews are brought in to try to get the job done and get these folks to safety.

Across Napa Valley, incredible flooding there. Some of the aerials showing the dramatic rainfall and the after effects at the Napa Valley seeing some of its worst rainfall in years.

Take a look at some of these numbers. Petrolia, California, 17 1/2 inches, Bridgeville, California, over 17 inches. And this is over a five-day period. So, that is just an incredible amount of rain for California. It had a tropical connection, but this is not a tropical area. So, to see that much rainfall is truly remarkable.

We are seeing more in the way of rainfall across Seattle and Portland. Again, it has stopped for today in the San Francisco area. Some of the rainfall yesterday at least fell in the form of snow, snow levels at about 5,000 feet and that helped lock some of it up. So, I suppose it could have been worse.

Elsewhere, looking at a foggy travel across the lower Great Lakes. We'll talk more about that in the next half hour. Guys, back up to you.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Rob Marciano, thank you.

MARCIANO: You got it.

CHO: As each day ticks by, the nation edges closer to going over the so-called fiscal cliff. Democrats and Republicans unable so far to agree on how to raise revenue and cut spending to close that budget gap. On January 1st, of course, as many of you know, taxes go up and deep spending cuts kick in if the two sides can't reach an agreement.

The Sunday talk shows offering an example of just how far apart they are.


TIMOTHY GEITHNER, TREASURY SECRETARY: What we're not going to do is extend those tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Remember, those cost a trillion dollars over 10 years and there's no possibility that we're going to find a way to get our fiscal house in order without those tax rates going back up.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Nobody wants to go over the cliff. That's why the day after the election, I tried to speed this process up by making a concession to put revenues on the table. And it's unfortunate that the White House has spent three weeks doing basically nothing.


CHO: Speaker Boehner added he is flabbergasted by the administration's proposals while Secretary Geithner said he believes a deal can be reached by the end of the year.

SAMBOLIN: W could find out this morning if the Supreme Court will take up the issue of same-sex marriage. At 9:30 Eastern, the court releases its orders list. There's a possibility justices will hear cases that challenge the federal Defense of Marriage Act or California's Proposition 8, which defines marriage as strictly between a man and a woman.

CHO: An evacuation order remains in effect this morning in Louisiana as authorities rush to secure more than 6 million pounds of improperly stored gunpowder. The M6 powder was found in Camp Minden on property leased by Explo Systems. An operation is underway to move that powder to underground storage facilities on the site. So far, workers have safely stored more than 1 million pounds. That's enough, by the way, to fill 27 18-wheelers.

SAMBOLIN: A member of the Coast Guard is dead after a suspicious boat rammed his small boat off the coats of southern California. Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horn (ph) was one of two Coast Guard members thrown off a boat on impact, and suffered a head injury. The Coast Guard was treated at a local hospital. The Coast Guard says the suspicious vessel, a panga work boat, was intercepted, and two people were detained.

CHO: Nine bodies have now been found in a collapsed highway tunnel about 50 miles west of Tokyo. Officials still don't know what caused that 200-foot section of concrete to cave in over the weekend. And now, they're not saying whether there might be more victims under the rubble.

SAMBOLIN: If Army Private Bradley Manning, charged in the largest leak of classified material in history faces trial, it will happen in mid-March. A military judge pushed it back about a month because of extensive pre-trial motions. Manning says he was mistreated and held in extreme confinement for nine months at Quantico. Prosecutors say he missed multiple opportunities to complain about it while he was in custody.

CHO: Federal investigators are waiting for an all-clear to conduct an on-site inspection of a train bridge that collapsed Friday morning in southern New Jersey. Several cars of a train derailed, but it's unclear what happened first, the collapse or the derailment. The cars were carrying hazardous chemicals, and some of it did escape.


DEBBIE HERSMAN, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD: They all said that there was a vapor cloud that was released and was approaching them, but there was inconsistent information in the early minutes in the accident of exactly what that product was.


CHO: Incredibly the NTSB said the bridge was inspected just last month.

SAMBOLIN: The Pakistani school girl activist who was shot in the head by the Taliban is expressing thanks to her many supporters around the world. In a message read by Anderson Cooper at last night's CNN Heroes ceremony in Los Angeles, Malala Yousufzai said, quote, "I thank the people that supported me without distinguishing religion and color."

CHO: And a woman from Nepal who supports children so they don't have to live behind bars when they're in prison is CNN's 2012 hero of the year.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: The 2012 CNN Hero of the Year from Kathmandu is Pushpa Basnet.


PUSHPA BASNET, CNN'S 2012 HERO OF THE YEAR: This is for my children, this is back to my country of Nepal. Thank you to everyone who voted for me and believed in my dream. Thank you.


CHO: How cute is she? She's 29-year-old Pushpa Basnet. She received her award last night, as you saw there, at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, during "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute."

Listen to just why she's extraordinary. Since 2005, she has helped more than 140 children. Basnet will receive $250,000 to continue her work and another $50,000 for being named one of CNN's top ten heroes of 2012.

SAMBOLIN: And the one sure looked happy, don't they?

CHO: Certainly do.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Another NFL football player takes his own life, but not before police say he murdered his girlfriend and the mother of his 3-month-old baby. Up next, find out how he was remembered by his team, the Kansas City Chiefs.


CHO: Twelve minutes after the hour.

The Kansas City Chiefs play as scheduled and muster a win, but they're finding it hard to celebrate. They took to the field a day after police say their teammate, Jovan Belcher, shot and killed his 22-year- old girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins. Belcher then turned the gun on himself outside the Chiefs practice facility in front of his coaches and the general manager. He and Perkins leave behind a 3-month-old daughter.

The Chiefs beat the Panthers 27-21 last night. The struggling team winning only its second game of the season despite this senseless violence and the loss of their teammate.

Coach Romeo Crennel congratulated the team after the win.


ROMEO CRENNEL, KANSAS CITY CHIEF COACH: You stuck together as a team like we talked about, helped each other, all right? Family and friends, you relied on those people, all right? You relied on your faith to help get you through this, all right? And we got through it, all right, in a grand way because everybody made a contribution. Everybody helped, OK? And that's what a team is about.


CHO: Casey Wian has been talking to the Chiefs players and coaches -- all, of course, trying to come to grips with this violent murder/suicide.

Casey, good morning. What's the latest?

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the latest on the investigation, Alina, is it is continuing. Police know what happened. As you mentioned, Jovan Belcher shot his girlfriend multiple times at the home they shared near here. Then he drove to the Chiefs training complex behind me and killed himself in front of several coaches who were trying to talk him out of it.

Police know what happened. Now, they're trying to figure out and investigate why it happened. And that investigation is ongoing. Police aren't saying much else about a potential motive -- Alina.

CHO: I think everyone who has spoken out from family members to friends have all said that they were completely shocked by this. It seems so out of character. Having said that, Casey, as you know, there's been at least six current or former NFL players that have committed suicide in just the past two years, murder-suicide unprecedented.

However, there are some people this morning who are speculating that these tragedies could have been linked to undiagnosed concussion injuries. Any truth to that?

WIAN: Well, we don't know if there's truth to it, but it's certainly a natural area of inquiry. The NFL has been trying in the last couple of years to deal with the issue of concussions. As you mentioned this have been at least five former or current players who have committed suicide in recent years. The league does not know how those things are related or whether they played any role at all in this case with Jovan Belcher, but it's clearly an issue that the league is looking at.

We are just going to have to se how this investigation continues, to see if that has any role in this tragedy, Alina.

CHO: A lot of questions as well just about the relationship, especially of late between Jovan Belcher and his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins. Chiefs called for a moment of silence for the victims of domestic violence before last night's game. But at least six current or former NFL players have been arrested for domestic violence this year alone. I know there's no evidence at least so far of domestic abuse in this case.

But there was at least a recent history of problems between these two, right?

WIAN: Well, police have said that there were arguments between the two, but friends and neighbors have said that there was nothing that rose to the level of anything really bad -- nothing that rose to the level of domestic violence. We talked to some of the Chiefs after the game yesterday. One told us that what needs to happen in the NFL is teammates need to be more supportive and more involved with each other.

Let's listen to what he had to say.


DERRICK JOHNSON, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: We need to talk to each other more as men, not as football players, I mean, in life, because generally men don't really show their feelings. You know, they don't talk about what's going on, they don't cry, or they don't show emotion. I mean, to have an act go on like this yesterday, it's one of those things that could have been avoided. But as a teammate, you know, we have to do more about -- not getting in peoples business, but I mean just -- just, you know, making sure that your teammate is OK.


WIAN: Being in that locker room yesterday after the game, despite the fact that the Chiefs did win was a surreal experience. It was a very subdued, somber mood. Some of these players saying the tragedy spurred them on to the best performance they had all year. We can't forget that the victims here in this case and their 3-month-old daughter, who has now been left without her parents, Alina.

CHO: A lot of players this morning saying that, especially on social media, that Jovan Belcher was one of their favorite teammates.

All right. Casey Wian, live for us with that update -- Casey, thank you.

SAMBOLIN: It is 17 minutes past the hour.

Egypt's top court has shut down indefinitely after supporters of President Mohamed Morsi prevented judges from entering the courthouse yesterday. This is the latest move in a political standoff that started last month when President Morsi issued decrees giving himself sweeping powers and immunity from the Egyptian court.

CHO: A strong warning today from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the Syrian government over the potential use of chemical weapons. One official in the Obama administration told CNN there are worrying signs that Syria may be considering the use of such weapons against rebels.

And new this morning, this mayor of this town along the border with Turkey told CNN that jets dropped two bombs wounding several people.

SAMBOLIN: It is 18 minutes past the hour.

We are getting an early read on your local news that is making national headlines. And this story comes from "The Boston Globe." A year after the paper found that stores and restaurants across Massachusetts were intentionally mislabeling fish. Guess what? The practice continues.

DNA testing shows some business are selling cheaper, lower quality fish instead of what is written on the label. So, in one case, slices of what were supposed to be white tuna at a sushi shop were actually escolar and an oily species of fish that can cause digestive issues.

CHO: Surprise, surprise.

SAMBOLIN: That's terrible.

CHO: Buyer beware.

And "The New York Times," this story got so much attention here locally in New York and around the nation follow up to that story of the homeless man who received a pair of shoes from a selfless police officer. Reporters caught up with him on the Upper West Side and his new boots were nowhere to be seen. Fifty-four-year-old Jeffrey Hillman said the shoes are hidden because they are worth a lot of money and he could lose his life over them. That's what he says.

Hillman said he was honorably discharged after serving five years in the Army in the late 1970s and 1980s.

SAMBOLIN: I guess those are things you don't think about unless you're in a predicament like that, right? That's too bad.

Nineteen minutes past the hour. For an expanded look at all our top stories, head to our blog,

And coming up, a dolphin at SeaWorld bites a girl and the whole terrifying event was caught on camera by her own father. We have that tape for you right after this quick break.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. Twenty-three minutes past the hour.

A family trip to SeaWorld goes from fun to terrifying. And it all happened in an instant. A dolphin lunged and grabbed a girl's hand while she moved an empty tray that had contained fish. Mom and dad were there to see it all happen and have their camera rolling as well.

Here is Evan Lambert of Orlando affiliate WKMG.


EVAN LAMBERT, WKMG REPORTER (voice-over): Eight-year-old Jillian Thomas was living her dream, getting up close and personal with dolphins, her favorite animal, the day before Thanksgiving at SeaWorld. Mom and dad had their camera rolling as Jillian and her brother were feeding dolphins at the popular dolphin cove attraction.

But Jillian ran out of fish. In a split second, her treat to feed the dolphins became a terror.

JILLIAN THOMAS, 8-YEAR-OLD: I'm out of fish.


LAMBERT: One more time. The dolphin lunges out of the pool and goes straight for the tray of fish, taking with it Jillian's arm and dragging her toward the pool.

JAMIE THOMAS, JILLIAN'S FATHER (via telephone): We think that attraction at SeaWorld is dangerous. It was traumatic for us to go through that event. LAMBERT: The Thomases: say the dolphin's bite punctured Jillian's skin in three places and caused minor bleeding, but now, she is doing OK. We asked SeaWorld about the incident and they told us in a statement, "Nothing is more important to us than the health, safety of our guests, employees and animals. Educators and animal care staff are always on-site at this area, monitoring all interactions and are committed to guest safety."

And the Thomases say they were told repeatedly not to pick up the trays. But the 8-year-old just made a mistake.

AMY THOMAS, JILLIAN'S MOTHER (via telephone): She said she just forgot. As you've seen in the video, moved the plate to say she was done.

LAMBERT: Of course, we know the dolphin wasn't. The Thomases say they won't be back at SeaWorld and they hope others will heed their warning.

AMY THOAMS: We're not banking on SeaWorld changing that attraction. I'm sure that's not going to happen. But perhaps we can change the minds of another parent or even an adult.


CHO: Well, that would be going -- and what a lucky girl. She's lucky she didn't get pulled into the water.

SAMBOLIN: Right. And it looked by the force, it was a freeze frame there. But it looked like she would have gone. I guess with a kid, it's hard for them to remember something like that, don't move the tray.

CHO: That's right.

SAMBOLIN: I would not go.

Twenty-five minutes past the hour.

CHO: Minding your business, U.S. stock futures up after positive data overnight on China's manufacturing sector. And take a look at this, all green arrows. S&P 500, the best indicator for the stocks on your 401(k), up more than 12 percent since the start of the year.

SAMBOLIN: And there is a lot of key economic data on top of this week that could move the market -- U.S. auto sales, manufacturing, and construction spending numbers today as well. Plus a crucial update on the health of the labor market on Friday through the big November jobs report. And, of course, investors will be watching fiscal cliff negotiations in Washington all week long.

CHO: Ford is issuing recalls for two of its newest and biggest- selling models, the 2013 Escape crossover and the 2013 Fusion sedan. Ford is urging owners to contact their dealers as soon as possible because the eco boost engines can overheat and catch on fire.


CHO: The recall effects nearly 90,000 vehicles.

Oh, the, quote, "Bible" of psychiatry is getting some upgrade. Listen to this -- they involve autism, binge eating, mood disorders and hoarding. We will dig in to the details and explain all of this, coming up.

SAMBOLIN: Hoarding makes sense, right?