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Soccer Ref Loses Life Over Foul Call; Bachelorette Party Tragedies; Interview with Shug McGaughey, Trainer of Derby Winner Orb; Can't Get to the Prom?

Aired May 6, 2013 - 08:30   ET



ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christine Romans in for John Berman this Monday morning.

A heartbreaking update to the story we've been following. Forty-six- year-old Ricardo Portillo is a soccer referee, a father of three, loses his fight for life after calling a foul on a player. Here's Stephanie Elam.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At a vigil Sunday evening in Salt Lake City, members of the community came together to remember a dedicated family man.

JOHANA PORTILLO, RICARDO PORTILLO'S DAUGHTER: He took a part of me with him. He took my daddy away from me.

ELAM: Police say soccer referee, Ricardo Portillo, probably never saw the blow coming, the blow that would ultimately end his life.

MARIO VASQUEZ, SOCCER LEAGUE PRESIDENT: I'm in shock, because besides a ref, he's a friend of mine.

ELAM: It happened during an April 27th match for a recreational soccer league just outside Salt Lake City after Portillo called a foul on a 17-year-old goalie.

VASQUEZ: The goalie pushed one of the forwards from the back.

ELAM: The goalie retaliated by punching the 46-year-old referee in the head.

PORTILLO: When he was writing down his notes, he just came out of nowhere and punched him.

ELAM: Portillo was taken to the hospital with what was believed to be a minor injury, but doctors found that he had suffered serious internal head injuries, police said, and lapsed into a coma. After a week in that condition, he died Saturday night. Johana Portillo, the referee's eldest daughter, had spoken with CNN's Jake Tapper the day before he died. She told him her father had lived for his three daughters and for soccer.

PORTILLO: His passion was, you know, being there the whole weekend, just refereeing. He loved soccer. And it was just really bad. We never thought that this was going to happen. He loved what he did and it was his passion.

ELAM: The family knew the chance of recovery was slim.

PORTILLO: The doctor says only a miracle will bring my daddy back.

ELAM (on-camera): The teen who's not being identified because of his age was arrested two days after the soccer field incident on preliminary charges of aggravated assault, charges that will likely be upgraded now that Portillo has died.

Stephanie Elam, CNN, Los Angeles.


SAMBOLIN: Our thanks to Stephanie. And Johana Portillo is the oldest of Ricardo Portillo's three daughters, and she joins us now from Salt Lake City, Utah. Johana, I cannot tell you how sorry we are for your loss. We've been hearing a lot about how your father died, and I want to give you an opportunity to talk about how he lived. So can you tell us a little bit about your dad?

JOHANA PORTILLO, DAUGHTER OF DECEASED YOUTH SOCCER REFEREE: Yes. My dad was a really happy person. Anybody that knew him can tell you that he loves to make everybody laugh. He always had something good to say to everybody. We could be, like, in a serious conversation and I don't know where he will like pop out and say something funny just to make you laugh. And that's what I'm going to miss about him.

SAMBOLIN: Now, he came here from Mexico 16 years ago. And I was reading that there are also some grandchildren. Is this a very large family?

PORTILLO: He left his three daughters behind, three grandchildren and a whole family and a lot of friends.

SAMBOLIN: I was also reading, Johana, that this is not the first time your father has been attacked. And this really surprised me that, at the end of the day, this has happened to him repeatedly. Were you guys worried about him? And could you tell me about some of those other attacks that occurred?

PORTILLO: The first time he got attacked was like ten years ago. He was a player; he wasn't a referee yet. He got a broken leg. Then the next time it was about like five years ago, I think. He had a broken rib being attacked by a player, too. We asked him -- I asked him, I was like why do you keep doing it? You just keep getting -- you know, just hurting yourself. He said that that was his risk because that was his passion so we all talked to him and he didn't want to leave it and there was nothing I couldn't do. I was worried the whole time. And this last Saturday when they called me, I never thought it was going to be this serious.

SAMBOLIN: And did you witness what happened?

PORTILLO: No, I didn't.

SAMBOLIN: And so was any of your family present at that particular game?

PORTILLO: No, nobody was present.

SAMBOLIN: So the first time you saw him was at the hospital?


SAMBOLIN: You can talk to me about that? I'm sorry.

PORTILLO: I got a call from my uncle saying that my daddy was in the hospital again, that I needed to go down there. I was like, oh my god, what did they do to him again. It never crossed my mind that it was going to be this serious.

When I got to the hospital, I saw everybody's faces, the doctor's faces, and just get this really, you know, bad feeling. I walked in, I saw my dad laying in the bed and I got close, I grab his hand. He pressed my hand really hard. I saw him, I was like, "Daddy, we're going to be OK." And then he said -- he looked at me and he went like that and he started crying. He was like, "No."

After that, he started going into shock. They pulled me out of the room and that's the last time I saw my dad conscious.

SAMBOLIN: I'm very sorry, Johana. I know I also read that somehow you were going to find forgiveness in your heart for this teenager. Maybe not now, but maybe in the future. How can you go there?

PORTILLO: I just need time to heal. It's a lot of pain that this kid caused my whole family, especially my sisters and I. My youngest sister, she's like in shock. She can't believe it. She still doesn't think that this is going on. She's just like, it's just like a normal day for her. She talks about my dad like nothing happened.

My other sister, she's like in shock. She won't talk about it. She won't cry about it. It's just really hard. I will forgive this kid because it's only in God's hands, you know, for him to have his punishment, not in mine. But right now, it's too soon to forgive.

SAMBOLIN: All right, Johana Portillo, we wish you all the best to you and your family. Know that our thoughts and prayers are with you as well. And we pray for your healing and hopefully, at the end of the day, this will show people to stop the violence in sports. So thank you so much for your time this morning.

PORTILLO: All right, thank you, guys.

ROMANS: And she's talking about forgiveness, you know, Zoraida, but that 17-year-old -- they haven't released his name because he is a minor -- but the 17-year-old has been charged initially with aggravated assault. Now that the referee has passed away, there could be more charges. So she says it's in God's hands; it 's also in the court's hands.

SAMBOLIN: Oh yes, yes.

ROMANS: All right, best of luck to them, that family, as they try to heal.

No official word yet on what caused a deadly limousine fire over the weekend, but California highway authorities say it may have started underneath the vehicle, perhaps started in the trunk. New video shows the limo engulfed. Five women died in that fire. Four others and the driver and the driver somehow managed to escape.

Reports say the women were all nurses. They were headed to a bachelorette party. They were just four minutes from their destination when the limo burst into flames. The bride-to-be one of the five who died. The groom said to be waiting at the hotel for her to arrive. Police say the bodies were so badly burned it could take them days to positively identify them.

SAMBOLIN: And believe it or not, another bachelorette party tragedy to tell you about. This one was in Kansas City. An investigation underway this morning into a woman's fatal fall off a party bus. Twenty-six-year-old Jamie Frecks was helping celebrate a friend's upcoming wedding Saturday night when she actually fell through the emergency door and onto Interstate 35. Police say three vehicles hit her. Frecks died at the scene and she leaves behind a six-week-old baby, a fiance, and a devastated family.


CYNTHIA MATTESON, VICTIM'S AUNT: Always had a smile. She was a great, wonderful girl. She loved everybody, didn't care who it was, Jamie loved everybody.


SAMBOLIN: No one else on that bus was hurt.

ROMANS: High honors today for the educators killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. The Congressional Medal of Honor Society will be in Newtown, Connecticut, to honor the six victims with its highest civilian award, the Citizen Honors Medal. The victims' families will accept the awards. The society will also give commendation to the other Sandy Hook teachers and staff.

SAMBOLIN: Could campaign 2016 be a showdown between Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination? Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson thinks Biden would accept the challenge.


BILL RICHARDSON, FORMER NEW MEXICO GOVERNOR: I think Joe Biden would not defer. I think he would run. Hillary Clinton would be formidable, no question about it. But I've known Biden over the years. He is somebody that has always wanted to be president. He's got the eye of the tiger. I mean, he's going to all of these events. You've seen in his speeches, I was with him Friday morning. I think there could be a faceoff.


SAMBOLIN: Richardson also says part of Hillary Clinton's strength is her appeal to both the Democratic and Republican base.

ROMANS: Lindsay Lohan coming clean to CNN's Piers Morgan before her court ordered rehab. She told him she's smoked pot, she's taken ecstasy, but she only tried cocaine a few times. I think she said four or five times.

Here are a few other quotes in her interview with Piers. "I've never been a huge drinker..." "Constantly sending me to rehab is pointless." " I've never been a junkie and never will be." And "Everyone thinks I'm a crazy drug addict who shows up late to everything and behaves so badly, but I'm not. I'm bad with timing."

She started her 90 day rehab last week at the Betty Ford Clinic.

SAMBOLIN: I wrote for you here "denial."

ROMANS: I mean, she's in rehab instead of going to jail. If she says rehab doesn't work, is she raising her hand to say, "Judge, send me to jail?"

SAMBOLIN: They could play that for the judge.

All right, a goatnapping victim back home with her kids this morning.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Got to be a first goat abduction.


SAMBOLIN: Police outside New York City think a group of teens stole a nursing pet goat and then abandoned her in a park. A goat friendly family took care of her over the weekend, if you can believe that. A TV station did a story about the mystery goat. The owner saw the story, made a phone call. You guessed it. They got her back.

ROMANS: Is this some kind of senior prank? I mean, why would a bunch of kids...

SAMBOLIN: Crazy kids.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, it was an emotional victory at the Kentucky Derby when Orb crossed the finish line. Trainer Shug McGaughey, he's going to join us to talk about this very first victory and if he thinks this horse can go all the way. There he is. Good morning, sunshine! Well, like I said, he's had a wonderful weekend. We're going to talk to him this morning.

You're watching STARTING POINT.


ROMANS: All right, let the speculation begin. On a rainy Saturday, Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey's horse Orb gave him the best gift -- his first Kentucky Derby win.

SAMBOLIN: I'd say so. With the first of the three races that comprise the coveted Triple Crown udner his belt, could he take a shot at the first Triple Crown title in 35 years? Shug sure thinks so.

He joins us from Belmont Park in Long Island. Shug, congratulations on your first Derby win. I've been watching all of the interviews all weekend long. It rained almost all day. Extremely sloppy track. Were you concerned?

SHUG MCGAUGHEY, TRAINER, ORB, KENTUCKY DERBY WINNER: Well, I really wasn't that concerned about the sloppy track. He had trained on it while we were at Churchill and trained good. We all know that morning mud is a little bit different than afternoon mud but I really had a lot of -- quietly I was very, very confident all week, that Orb was going to run his race. Whether that was going to be good enough or not, we never know until it's over with. But we were awfully proud of him and he ran a great race.

ROMANS: And after the first turn on the way to the back stretch, Orb was third last and this was a very, very fast start to the race. What was going through your mind?

MCGAUGHEY: Well, I knew they were really going fast up front because I had seen the fractions. I thought he was in a very good spot on the racetrack. I thought the flow of the race, he was really into the flow of the race very well. But, you know, you always -- when you're back that far, you wonder, well, are we back too far? Are we going to be able to we catch up?

But I did think when he pushed the button that we would be a big factor in it.

SAMBOLIN: So the Triple Crown series moves on the May 18th Preakness in Baltimore followed by the June 8th Belmont Stakes in New York. Orb I understand arrived at Belmont Park yesterday. What's your plan until Preakness and how is Orb doing?

MCGAUGHEY: Seemed to ship up here really well and came out of this really well. I was able to see him yesterday afternoon and this morning. And you know I'm just going to try to keep him happy and let him get over his race and then first of the week probably breeze him and take him on to -- take him on to Pimlico maybe Monday or Tuesday.

ROMANS: You think this horse you and jockey Joel Rosario you think this horse has more go -- this horse has more magic?

MCGAUGHEY: I don't think we've gotten to the bottom of him yet. He's coming out of his races too well to have been you know getting too tired. And you know I think he still has got some things to learn. And you know the derby was by far his best race, but if you see all his races this year when he's trying to make -- when he make the lead, he's try to kind of turn it off a little bit. He did again on Saturday.

And Joel was able to sort of let him see the horse coming that finished second and he went on to finished up well. But I think -- I think there's more to come. And you know we're really, really looking forward to getting to Pimlico.

SAMBOLIN: So these three races have very different strategies. How are you preparing him? Because most horses can win the Derby and the Preakness, but they get a little tripped up by the Belmont.

MCGAUGHEY: Well, you know I'm not going to do much different. You know I think that you know pretty much our game plan is to let him run his race. The only thing I told Joel in the (inaudible) is just ride him with confidence and I thought he did a good job in that. You know Pimlico is a bit different, but we'll be fine.

ROMANS: Tell me what it felt like when the announcer all of a sudden said Orb. He was talking about the other horses and suddenly Orb comes around. How did that feel?

MCGAUGHEY: Well, you know, with me, I kind of knew what was going to happen so --

ROMANS: You knew at that point that that horse could win that race, you knew at that point that that horse could win that race when he started to break away.

MCGAUGHEY: What? You have to repeat yourself.

ROMANS: Sorry. I'm just so excited about that moment when you came around. So you knew, you say you knew what was going to happen.

MCGAUGHEY: Yes, I mean I knew we were letting him run his race. And you know when he -- when he asked him to run, you know, when he made that big move, I knew we were going to be a factor. Whether we would get there or not, I didn't know. But then when we got to the eight and the quarter pole, I thought -- I thought we were going to have a really big chance. And then when he made the lead, you know I was, I don't show a lot of emotion, but believe me I was really excited and thrilled on the inside.

SAMBOLIN: I would say that that is true. I have one final question for you. How do you celebrate with Orb? What do you do for Orb?

MCGAUGHEY: Well, we just try to keep him happy. We got him -- we flew him back up here. He'd probably like that better than riding on a truck. And like I say, this week we're just going to try to keep him happy and we've got to get him back on his feet, not do anything special. Just kind of enjoy the next few days and start tightening the screws on him again. SAMBOLIN: Well, it certainly works. So we wish you all the luck in the world. Shug McGaughey, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

MCGAUGHEY: Well thank you for having me. It's been -- this whole thing has been big for us.

SAMBOLIN: Anytime.

ROMANS: And when you can see the picture of him when he was in the clubhouse or whatever, his face never changed even after he won and then he started to get really excited. My kids were running around the house yesterday "Orb".

SAMBOLIN: It was a cool moment.

All right, ahead on STARTING POINT.

A mom arrested after police say she left her four children alone in a car. And you won't believe where they say she was.

ROMANS: Plus the top places in the U.S. to retire. Guess what, Florida doesn't even crack the top ten.


ROMANS: Where should you retire? I'm going to tell you. You're watching STARTING POINT.


ROMANS: That's a pretty shot of New York City.

"Smart is the New Rich" this morning stock futures have turned mixed. The Dow is just down fractionally, NASDAQ still higher, S&P 500 lower as well.

Sam Stovall from S&P Capital IQ telling -- telling people today even with the S&P 500 up 140 percent in this bull market, its valuation is below average. So there could be more gains ahead.

The Senate is expected to vote on an Internet sales tax law that would allow states to require online retailers to collect sales tax on purchases made by their residents. A poll from Quinnipiac University finds most people are not in favor of it; could be especially structure difference for Congress today. 56 percent say they oppose new sales tax laws for online purchases; 37 percent support it.

Forget the beaches, forget the golf courses in Florida. Tennessee is the best state in the U.S. for retirees. says Tennessee is the top state based on cost of living, taxes, health care, crime and climate. Louisiana comes in second. South Dakota is third. Kentucky is fourth. Florida finished number 19.

This year's Fortune 500 list is out and there are new players on the top of the list. Most of them are oil companies. Wal-Mart is number one. Fortune 500 top company -- Wal-Mart. ExxonMobile, number 2. Those two companies switched spots from last year's list. Chevron is third. Phillips 66, fourth. And Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway is number five; its first time in the top five. Apple jumped to 6 -- it was 17th last year. General Motors and Ford also made the top 10.

There you go.

SAMBOLIN: All right, 54 past the hour. Another day of testimony ahead in the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial -- the toxicologist from the L.A. coroner's office is expected to be the first witness that is called today. Dan Anderson also took the stand in Dr. Conrad Murray's criminal trial. He testified about lab results on the singer's blood and urine samples.

A long island mom arrested and accused of leaving her four kids in the car while she was at a bar drinking. Police say 40-year-old Maria Cepparo She parked in a fire zone and left her children in an unlocked unheated car around 12:15 in the morning. The youngest child is six, the oldest 13 and autistic. They're in their grandmother's care this morning.

A Florida teenager who was too sick to get to her high school prom had the prom come to her. Favorite story of the day: 18-year-old Taylor Haberman of Jacksonville suffers from a rare heart disorder and has been waiting in the hospital for months for a transplant. When a patient support group called "Street Light" heard her story, they stepped in, they set up a make shift prom in one of the hospital's conference rooms.


ADAM HABERMAN, TAYLOR'S FATHER: She missed Grad Bash. She missed all other the functions at school, so prom was one of the two things we were shooting for.

TAYLOR HABERMAN, HEAR PATIENT: I'm very excited. I can't wait. It's going to be a good night.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is. Going to be the best night.

HABERMAN: Best night.

ADAM HABERMAN: Priceless -- just to see her smile and be happy and her spirits to be so up.


SAMBOLIN: And she looked fantastic. Taylor says even the boy she has a crush on showed up with flowers for her.

Next up, graduation day June 1 and Taylor says that she plans to be there. Good luck to you, young lady.

ROMANS: STARTING POINT back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ROMANS: Could gray hair be gone for good one day?

SAMBOLIN: I hope so.

ROMANS: We could be close, folks, to a day when you can rub something on your head and watch the gray fade away. A new research report published in the online journal, FASEA, Federation of American Society for Experimental Allergy --

SAMBOLIN: That's a mouthful.

ROMANS: It shows people who've gone gray accumulate hydrogen peroxide in their hair follicles. That makes hair bleach itself from the inside out, but they say it should be able to be treated with a simple topical cream that will return to its normal original color. No word on when this would be available -- sort of a fountain of youth.

SAMBOLIN: Apparently works with the sun. I don't know that I'd try it out, but --

ROMANS: And you have to assume you want your original hair color.


ROMANS: Whole industry built around making us look like somebody we're not.


ROMANS: That's it for STARTING POINT. I'm Christine Romans.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. Tomorrow on STARTING POINT, former astronaut Buzz Aldrin; he has a new book about the space program and will talk with singer Cyndi Lauper and actor Billy Porter. They were both just nominated for Tony Awards for the hit Broadway show "Kinky Boots". I'm looking forward to that.

ROMANS: "CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello begins right now.