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A Pilot Loses Consciousness in Mid-Flight; Football Safety Examined; American Idol Lies; Remembering Ed Koch

Aired February 1, 2013 - 15:30   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, ANCHOR, "CNN NEWSROOM": A pilot loses consciousness in the middle of a flight. This happened last night on a flight from Los Angeles to Seattle.

The plane actually had to be diverted to Portland, Oregon. And, now, doctors are revealing why.

Rene Marsh joins me now live from D.C. And, Rene, what the heck happened?

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Brooke, this is scary. The flight was actually midair when the pilot passed out.

One-hundred-and-sixteen passengers and five crew members were on board at the time when the plane had to make this emergency landing at Portland International Airport in Oregon.

Now, listen to the passengers that were on that flight when this all happened.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then all of a sudden, the attendant started running up and down the aisle. I had never seen them go so fast.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then the cockpit door opened and they laid the pilot on to the floor. And went and got the defibrillator, I think, that's what it was or some medical equipment.


MARSH: All right, well, the plane took off from LAX airport in Los Angeles. It was bound for Seattle.

The co-pilot had to take over the controls and he alerted air traffic control that they were coming in for that emergency landing.

Listen in to part of that conversation.


AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER: How is your pilot on board?

CO-PILOT: He is sitting in a seat and he's very aware. Last I heard, he's on oxygen. I don't believe this is a crisis.


MARSH: All right, well, an Alaska Airlines spokesperson that we spoke to today, they say the pilot's condition is, quote, "greatly improved" and that doctors believe food poisoning or the flu virus caused the pilot to pass out.

Passengers say everyone remained calm as a doctor, who just happened to be on board, treated the pilot.

We should add, Brooke, that the plane landed safely and medics on the ground rushed that pilot to a local hospital and, the passengers themselves, they were rebooked on other flights.

Thank goodness everyone was safe. Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Yes, indeed. Rene, thank you very much, for me, in Washington.

Bottom of the hour, I'm Brooke Baldwin. Football can be a tough and brutal game. People are talking, of course, about the dangers of the sport.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell responding to President Obama's recent comments about not letting a son, if he were to have a son, thinking twice about having a son to play football.


ROGER GOODELL, NFL COMMISSIONER: I welcome the president's comments because it has been a priority and we want to make sure that people understand what we're doing to make our game safer, not just in the NFL, but throughout sports.

And the changes we're making in the NFL, I think, are changing all of sports. There is a better recognition of head injuries, of treating them conservatively, and that affects every sport.


BALDWIN: Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins me here. And, you know, I know you've been talking about players, the dangers, links to head injuries, et cetera.

What do you make of all of this?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: And you hear from the NFL commissioner because, five years ago, that type of exchange, that type of conversation wouldn't have been had.

There is a lot more data. We know more objectively what the blows to the head, those concussive blows and other blows, to the head do to someone in the longer term.

There is a lot of people who are involved with this, obviously, the players union and the NFL, but also the players themselves and the families of those players.

I had a chance to sit down and talk to the widow of a football player, the football player Shane Dronett. He played for the Broncos and the Falcons.

And she described sort of what happened to him over this period of time, how he turned from this fun loving husband and dad into a totally different person.

I want you to listen to how she put it.


CHRIS DRONETT, WIFE OF SHANE DRONETT: I knew that it wasn't him, even just looking in his eyes, he wasn't there. It was just a blank stare.

GUPTA: Four years after her husband shot himself to death, Chris Dronett can't shake the memory of those last days.

In life, Shane was known as a fierce competitor.

JAMAL ANDERSON, ATLANTA FALCONS TEAMMATE: Shane had like a look about him.

He wasn't like a mean guy, you know, good smile, spoke to people, but you knew not to mess with him.

GUPTA: When I first met Chris and her youngest daughter, Haley, they told me about a side that fans didn't get to see.

Tell me about Shane, what kind of guy was he?

CHRIS DRONETT, WIFE OF SHANE DRONETT: he was a fantastic dad, a great father, wonderful husband.

H. DRONETT: Just the best dad in the world.

GUPTA: Chris believes that Shane was changed by the repeated blows he took on the field. Blows to the head.

C. DRONETT: After every game, Shane would have the most horrible headaches, just awful headaches, and, you know, the light would be so bright for him.

Then he would take aspirin. The headache would go away. But the injury didn't go away.

GUPTA: I went to visit Boston University where they studied the brains of former NFL players, including Dronett's.

In his case, they found evidence of CTE. It's a brain disease that can develop from repeated head injuries. It's been associated with depression and compulsive acts. Those are consistent with the personality changes Chris says she witnessed.

C. DRONETT: He would just become very agitated, very paranoid, very forgetful, distant with the kids, and -- which is very out of character for him because he had always been so full of life, and fun and a prankster.

GUPTA: Now, he's one of more than 4,000 former players and family members who have filed suits against the NFL.

The NFL's asked for that case to be thrown out. It said, "The NFL has long made player safety a priority and continues to do so. Any allegation that the NFL intentionally sought to mislead players has no merit."

As for the Dronetts, they say they're trying to keep his memory alive and move forward.

C. DRONETT: They have gone through high school without their dad, so it's difficult.


BALDWIN: I imagine it's very difficult.

GUPTA: It's the reality because we hear these statistics all the time. You hear about them more and more as we learn about football and these concussions.

But I wanted you to meet somebody who has gone through this. She's helping counsel a lot of other wives of football players.

BALDWIN: Current players?

GUPTA: Current players and even some of the retired players because these are people that are still pretty young and they have no idea sometimes why they're changing so much, developing the depression, developing the memory loss, developing the rage.

So that's part of what she's doing.

BALDWIN: Again, and how old are they when they're developing all of this?

GUPTA: They can be in their 30s or 40s. You think about football players. Retirement comes at a very young age and there wasn't a name for this sort of triad, this chronic traumatic encephalopathy, and so far it's only been able to be diagnosed after someone has died.

There's been some new studies now looking at maybe doing this while people are alive still to figure out if you can diagnose it earlier, maybe treat it earlier, but again, this is just the reality for someone like Chris and her family.

BALDWIN: Unreal. Sanjay, thank you very much.

GUPTA: Thank you.

And don't forget, Sanjay Gupta here, tune in, "Sanjay Gupta MD," Sunday morning at 7:30 Eastern for a sneak peek of Sanjay's new primetime drama -- congratulations, my friend -- Monday morning.

This is based upon his book. It's premiering on TNT Monday night, 10:00 p.m. Eastern. We're talking about that Monday, I think. You and I have a date next week, I believe, so it's on.

I'm getting some new information here about the standoff now under way involving the child being held hostage in a bunker in Alabama. Police say they're about to make a major revelation.

Be right back.


BALDWIN: An American soldier hoping to become an "American Idol."


MATT FARMER, AMERICAN IDOL CONTESTANT: Long time coming, but I know change is going to come Oh, yes, it is.


BALDWIN: Matt Farmer auditioning here. He tells judges about a brain injury he sustained after an IED hit him while he was serving in Iraq.

He says there were fears his medication might have made him sterile and then his little girl joins him on stage. There she is. And he gets a four-way yes from the judges.

Pretty inspiring, right? Well, guess what. Turns out this story was a lie.

Today, he issued this statement. This is what he said. "It was all lies. To think that I would go on a national TV show and get away with continuing a lie so big, and so deeply imbedded in my life and brain is ridiculous."

Goes on, "I was told to keep quiet and not talk to anyone and I have decided that what's best for me and my family is to come out and end the insanity."

Martin Savidge following this one for us. This guy has been e-mailing you. What is he telling you?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was such a made for TV moment. Precious little girl, and he has talent.


SAVIDGE: But he also has a talent for lying. He's been e-mailing me. We have been pushing him to get an interview. If you feel sincere, talk to us.

He said, well, it was in my post. I want to come clean regardless of what I was being told to, quote/unquote, "stay hushed." Doesn't explain that. He says, "At this time I'm not in the best of mental states to call and talk, a bit scattered, but would like to call and let people hear to set the record straight as soon as I can and as soon as I get checked out I will make sure I am OK."

That's what he's saying right now.

BALDWIN: OK. What about the mother of this child, on stage with him?

SAVIDGE: That's his ex-wife. They were married for about a year. That is their little girl. And she says, look, she did not have any idea that this little girl was going to make an appearance on "American Idol."

She gave no permission for her ex-husband to take her on the program there. And then on top of that, she says she knows that he was using their daughter in order to gain sympathy. She looks beautiful.

And then on top of that, she thinks perhaps to try and ingratiate himself with the judges or maybe to earn more votes from the audience

Now that little girl is looking at her mother and saying, why did daddy lie? It is heartbreaking for the mom.

BALDWIN: Was daddy's lie all a lie?

SAVIDGE: It was.

BALDWIN: The whole thing?

SAVIDGE: No, not all of it. That is the thing that is sad. He did go to Iraq. He was in the military. He was in harm's way.


SAVIDGE: No IED, yes. And he didn't do the other things that he said.

He's claimed in other cases he was in Afghanistan. This was a man that did risk his life, did dedicate himself to the country.

He does have problems. He does need help. Maybe he needs some time and space to get this worked out.

BALDWIN: Martin Savidge, what a story. That's exactly what it is. Martin, thank you very much.

Got an update on the story we've been following, the hostage situation in Alabama unfolding really since Tuesday. This five-year-old boy being held by this 65-year-old. Let me get a sneak peek. His name, Jimmy Lee Dykes.

So, apparently, this sheriff in Dale County in Alabama is now saying this major development in this case is the fact that they're going to release his -- the suspect's photo. And to quote, the sheriff, he said, "He can't hide forever." He's in this underground bunker, this child is a special needs child, needs medication. Apparently, police are in constant -- I shouldn't say constant communication.

They're in communication because this child is getting his medication, getting crayons, getting coloring books, so they are talking, but can you imagine, the family here waiting with bated breath to find out if their little one is A-OK.

Now, I'm hearing in my ear. Just like that, here he is. This is the suspect here that has been building this underground bunker, some eight feet underground in this rural area of Alabama. This is Jimmy Lee Dykes and the sheriff in Dale County has just released this.

Back in just a moment.


BALDWIN: If you think Steven Tyler is just kicking back, relaxing since he left the judge's throne at "American Idol," think again. The lead singer of Aerosmith now has some legislation named after him in Hawaii.

Yep. It's called the Steven Tyler Act. It is a bill that would do more to stop the paparazzi from stalking and invading the privacy of celebrities.

And our political reporter in the studio with me at the table, special day ...

SHANNON TRAVIS, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: What are we doing wrong? We can't get a piece of legislation named after us?

BALDWIN: ... face to face.

What's going on? Why Steven Tyler? Who is backing this bill, by the way?

TRAVIS: So, basically, it's in Hawaii, right? We're talking about a 17 state legislatures and the senate basically saying we have a lot of celebrities coming here to Hawaii and they're getting stalked.

They're coming to escape the paparazzi, cameras and fans or whatever on the main land, coming here to relax. They're getting stalked and their private space. This bill doesn't involve the public spaces, if you go to the beach or ...

BALDWIN: This is private.

TRAVIS: This is private, so a lot of times, these celebs, they're in their houses someone with a huge mega-photo, telephoto lens is peering through the window or whatever, so this addresses that.

I'm going to read just a little bit from it, some of the reasoning or rational. I have the actual bill right here in my hand. Quote, "Although their celebrity status may justify a lower expectation of privacy, the legislature finds that sometimes the paparazzi goes too far to disturb the peace and tranquility afforded celebrities who escape to Hawaii for a quiet life."

One other little thing, many celebrities are deterred from buying property or vacationing in Hawaii because the same paparazzi that harass them on the mainland are more likely to follow them to Hawaii.

So, there's a little bit of an economic component to this, also.

So, this bill basically says, you know what? We want to put a stop to that for these people who are coming over here, paparazzi, photographers, or whatever, for commercial gain to capture some of these celebrities.

BALDWIN: So hang on. Are all of these paparazzi -- paparazzo -- coming over to Hawaii to try to catch a glimpse of Steven Tyler?

TRAVIS: Good question. Why Steven Tyler, right? OK, crack reporter that I am, I did some digging.

I actually called up one of the state senators who's behind this, State Senator J. Kalani English. He said, you know what? Steven Tyler owns a house here in Maui. We confirmed that, that he does, in fact, own a house there.

He's one of my constituents and he came to me, according to the state senator and said, you know what? This is a problem and that Steven Tyler is the one who was advocating for this bill, Brooke.

Now, we have reached out to Steven Tyler's reps to try and get a confirmation that he is, in fact, supportive and wanted this. We have not yet heard back.

But this is what the state senator behind this bill has told me, that Steven Tyler has said, you know what? Enough, let's do something about this.

BALDWIN: One of his constituents.

TRAVIS: That's right.

BALDWIN: Shannon Travis, thank you, my friend.

TRAVIS: Loved being here.

BALDWIN: "Political Pop,: we'll do it again.

And, as we are trying to do more often now, as we try to do every Friday here at this time, I want to give you a little look behind the scenes here on our show.

So, I asked you to ask me questions on Twitter. We call it the "Week Wind-down." Here's a piece.


BALDWIN: Who is the funnest co-anchor to work with?

Well, you know, I have TV crushes and I think it's sort of mutual, Wolf and Piers Morgan.

But my eclipsing both of those is my man, Berman, John Berman, who I've been lucky enough to get to work with on very early mornings.

Here he is. This is some behind-the-scenes picture during inauguration weekend. This dude is hilarious.


BALDWIN: The shine on the Big Apple is a little dimmer today. Former New York Mayor Ed Koch has died from heart failure.

He led the city for 12 year, bringing it back from the financial brink. Outspoken, unforgettable and unusual, Koch, just last month talked to Piers Morgan about his gravestone.


PIERS MORGAN, HOST, "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT": You've made it. You've got the tombstone. We have a picture, I think, of it here.

There it is. "Here lies Ed Koch." So, you're in a unique position of writing or verbally espousing your own obituary. What was your thinking behind that?

ED KOCH, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: It's on a subway stop, too.

MORGAN: Is it really?

KOCH: It is the ...

MORGAN: What was the thinking behind that?

KOCH: It is the only operating cemetery in Manhattan. I wanted to be buried in Manhattan and the Trinity Church has a nondenominational cemetery, which is what this is, and it's the only functioning one.

The one down at Wall Street, you have to be incinerated. I don't want to be incinerated.

MORGAN: When you look at your own grave, something that very, very few people ever do, Mr. Mayor, what do you think when you look?

KOCH: Well, I want to tell you. I'm secular, but I believe in God. I believe in the hereafter. I believe in reward and punishment and I expect to be rewarded.

God gave me a very good hand to play over my 88 years. I have no regrets.

MORGAN: What have been your greatest achievements and your ... KOCH: Being mayor of the city of New York.

You know, here I am 22 years out of office. I walk down the streets. People who were eight-years-old when I was mayor know me.

The motto that I had, "how am I doing," everybody knows that. I first uttered it in 1969.

New York, the people have given me so much.

On my gravestone I say, I fiercely love the people of the city of New York.


BALDWIN: Koch said his motto was the question he constantly asked his constituents, how am I doing?

But the inscription on his tombstone quotes slain journalist Daniel Pearl, quote, "My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish."

Ed Koch, 88-years-old.



KATIE COURIC, TALK SHOW HOST: Larry, where are we going? He goes, my place. And I was like, oh, mother of god.

So, we go to his apartment in (INAUDIBLE), right? We walk in. It's covered with "Proclamation, Larry King Day," keys to every city in the country. You know, like all over his apartment? That was sexy.


BALDWIN: Katie Couric dishing about a date she had with Larry King. She was 30. He was in his 50s. We know they went out. Obviously, we know nothing happened.

That's it for me. Hope you have a great weekend. I'm Brooke Baldwin at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.

Check out the Brooke Blog,, for our interviews.

Wolf Blitzer is up next. Hey, Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Brooke.