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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Police Officers Involved in Cleveland Rescue Tell Their Stories; Tornado in Alabama
Aired May 17, 2013 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.
Tonight, details you haven't heard about the rescue of the Cleveland women held captive for close to a decade. The police officers who were first inside the house are telling their stories for the first time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Within moments, she came charging at me. She jumped on to me, she's like you saved us, you saved us, and I'm holding on to her so tight. And then within a few seconds, I see another girl come out of the bedroom. I just look at her. You can immediately tell who it is, just thinner, and again, I just needed confirmation, and I asked her, what's your name? She said my name is Georgina DeJesus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: We are going to play more of that interview for you tonight.
Also, an American aid worker captured, held hostage by pirates in Somalia describes her three-month nightmare in Somalia's desert and her dramatic rescue by U.S. Navy SEAL team 6. Jessica Buchanan has an incredible story to tell. And you will hear it tonight.
We begin though with breaking news and a warning.
Several major cities are in the path of some very dangerous storms. An estimated 35 million people across the United States could see some of the most volatile and potentially the most dangerous storm systems so far this season, one that far eclipses the one that unleashed 16 twisters across Texas on Wednesday that killed six people.
The breaking news tonight, the national weather service is now confirming another tornado touched down in Alabama just a few hours ago. We just got this video from outside the town of Athens in northern Alabama. Meteorologist Chad Myers is live with the latest.
Chad, what's going on?
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, it's a central park and also, central plains storm here, all the way from Minnesota back on down even into the parts of Wichita and into Amarillo.
Here's the deal, Anderson. We have all of this weather. We have warm air on one side, we have cold air on the other, and we haven't had tornadoes this year. We literally had less than half of the tornadoes that we should have had so far this year.
So, what does that mean? That tells us that all of a sudden, we are about to catch up. The warm and the cold aren't gone. Summer and spring are still around the corner. That spring weather has to happen sometime, and it will happen this weekend. That weather will be Saturday for parts of Nebraska, Kansas into Iowa, into Oklahoma. And then Sunday, all the way from Ohio back into Wichita. And then Monday, probably the bigger cities, that will be Chicago into St. Louis all the way back into Oklahoma city and little rock into Arkansas.
It is a big event that we haven't seen yet this year. I think people's guards are down and I think we have to worry about this. You have to make sure you have the NOAA weather radios and assume that some of these storms will happen at night and you are not going to be able to see them because they are going to be violent and they are also going to be quick. They might only start five minutes earlier and the warning might come and it could be a very quick event for you where you don't get the 15, 20 minutes warning that usually get.
COOPER: And despite what we've seen just this week, there's actually been a tornado drought, as you mentioned.
MYERS: Yes. This is an interesting graphic. From where we were in 2011 to where we are today, 2011, the April event of 2011, we talked in Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, Anderson. There were a lot of trails of those, 758 tornadoes touched down in April 2011. This year, only 83. So yes, that is certainly a drought. And over the average, we should be well over 500 by this time of year and we only have about 150 to 200 confirmed tornadoes.
There's the one that touched down in Athens. That was Athens, just to the west of Huntsville, Alabama. Literally, those people did not have any warning because the warning said, Anderson, police confirm a tornado on the ground. When you read that warning; that means the warning didn't get it in time. The warning is in time if it says radar indicated could be to you in ten minutes or so.
COOPER: So folks this weekend in that area should expect what?
MYERS: Hail the size of baseballs. Probably, at least a dozen tornadoes a day, maybe more. And winds probably at least 80 to 90 miles per hour. It is a normal spring event. We just haven't had them. And so, now, this is a wake-up call for those people.
COOPER: Chad, good information. Thank you.
Now to the tornado recovery effort in north Texas. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dude, look at that! Look, it's right above us! Right above us! Film right above us! Literally, like look straight up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Holy crap.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Unbelievable. That was the scene two days ago when a pair of storm chasers got too close to one of the 16 tornadoes that swept through Texas. They escaped the worst of it but we're now hearing from one family who survived a direct strike. They sought shelter in their bathtub. They lost their home. They said they are lucky to still have their lives.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is it. I just said it, this is it. We're gone. We thought we were gone. I thought, I just seen myself just, I don't know, I just came into that point. I just gave up. I couldn't hold no more, you know. It was that much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Incredible. Granbury, Texas took one of the hardest hits from the tornado. Entire neighborhoods leveled. Those who survived are just really starting the process of picking up the pieces.
Randi Kaye joins us live from Granbury.
Randi, how is it?
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, tonight the cleanup continues. The hardest hit areas are still closed. Texas governor Rick Perry came by the area today. He actually used to represent this area back in the late 1980s as a legislator so it's close to his heart. And he described the destruction as incomprehensible.
But there is some good news to report tonight. The seven missing that we told you about last night have all been found. They have all been located which is great news. Also, the sheriff says that on a limited basis, he is going to open that hardest hit area tomorrow morning. The residents will be able to go in, take a look at their homes. They won't be able to stay there. Media is certainly not allowed. They have to be out of there by 8:00 p.m. tomorrow night.
Also, some great stories, some dramatic stories of survival and some unexpected reunions, and we had the chance to witness one of those today.
KAYE (voice-over): When the winds picked up, Granbury resident Jerry Shuttlesworth knew he was in trouble.
JERRY SHUTTLESWORTH, GRANBURY RESIDENT: And I was watching trees start to buckle over. I said oh, God, please, don't let this happen. The wind got so strong, at that point I said junior, we're in trouble.
KAYE: Junior is Jerry's 6-year-old pit bull. His baby. Jerry grabbed him and ran for cover in his mobile home's laundry room.
SHUTTLESWORTH: I was praying, I said junior, it will be OK, it will be OK. I was praying and the house went together, and then blew out and I don't think I figured out, I went upside down holding on to him and he was no more.
KAYE: So, he was just sucked out of your arms?
SHUTTLESWORTH: Right. I never felt him leave my arms. I never felt nothing. All I know, I was over him like this and next thing I know I'm upside down and he's nowhere to be found.
KAYE: Jerry was thrown to the ground about 20 feet from his home.
SHUTTLESWORTH: And for five minutes, that tornado was over me going counterclockwise. It was literally setting over me.
KAYE: Oh, my goodness. What did it look like?
SHUTTLESWORTH: You can't explain it. Let's put it this way, slow motion, everything, all the trash, everything just moving continuously, and I just laid there and prayed for junior and I prayed God, please protect my puppy.
KAYE: When he managed to get up, he was in too much pain to look for his dog.
Were you in any shape to go look for junior?
SHUTTLESWORTH: No, no. Because my foot was broke.
KAYE: And Jerry's dog wasn't the only one lost. As many as 200 dogs were left homeless after this storm. Most were brought here to this animal shelter, where volunteers are working hard to try and reunite them with their owners. But without cell phone service or access to the devastated areas, that is no easy task.
Jerry got lucky, though. When a shelter employee recognized Junior as one of the dogs whose pictures were posted on this facebook page set up for Granbury's missing pets. Jerry got the call Friday morning and rushed right over.
SHUTTLESWORTH: Hey, buddy! Hey! Junior.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's daddy! SHUTTLESWORTH: Hey, hey. You are going to have to have a bath. What happened? You fly through the air?
KAYE: Finally, the dog ripped from his arms was back in them.
SHUTTLESWORTH: Come here, buddy. Come here. Look what daddy's got.
KAYE: Jerry isn't sure where the storm took junior, but he wants his pup to know he's sorry.
SHUTTLESWORTH: Nothing I could do, baby. It jerked you out of my arms. I think you flew through the air. You know, dogs weren't meant to fly. But I bet he had an angel with him.
KAYE: Junior was a bit banged up from it all. He has a few cuts and bruises, just like Jerry, who has a broken foot, a bruised skull and a face fit for a Boxer.
SHUTTLESWORTH: You got scratched up, too, huh? Daddy got scratched up, too. Yes.
KAYE: But none of that matters now.
SHUTTLESWORTH: We're back together. We're back together. It's OK now. It's OK now.
COOPER: Jerry and Junior. That is so great. I'm so happy they found each other. Was he able to salvage anything else?
KAYE: No. He lost his home, as I said, and he also lost 41 trees. But he actually kept his truck. His truck survived it and so did junior. For now, they are going to live at a motel in the area, Anderson. And yes, it is pet-friendly. The first order of business tonight at that motel is a bath for junior. And then, Jerry says he still hopes that he can spoil him rotten just like he always has. He plans to bring him his favorite meal which is Kentucky Fried Chicken.
COOPER: I love pit bulls. Great to see.
All right, thanks so much. Jerry and junior back together.
Let us know what you think. Follow us on twitter @anderson cooper.
Just ahead tonight, the riveting accounts of the police officers who found Michelle Knight and Gina Dejesus inside Ariel Castro's house. Now, this is the first time you are going to hear what those moments were actually like for those officers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At that point, all I remember is when he put her down, she jumped up into my arms and held on to me and screamed please don't let me go, please don't let me go. I said honey, don't worry, I'm not letting you go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: New details in the death of a well-respected doctor, just 41-years-old. She was poisoned with cyanide. The question is was she a victim of homicide. The FBI is joining the investigation.
COOPER: Tonight, a perspective you have not heard on the rescue of the three missing Cleveland women found alive last week in west Cleveland. Now, the perspective of the police rescuers themselves.
As you know, Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight and Gina Dejesus were freed from Ariel Castro's house where he allegedly held them captive for close to a decade. He was accused of kidnapping them over the span of three years starting in 2002. He is also charged with three counts of rape. Amanda Berry gave birth to a daughter in that house.
You have heard from the neighbors who came to Amanda Berry's aid after hearing her cries for help. Here's what Charles Ramsey told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLES RAMSEY, HELPED AMANDA BERRY ESCAPE: I'm trying to get the door open and can't because he torture chambered it some kind of way and locked it up, right. So I did what I had to do and kicked the bottom of the door and she crawled out of it. She grabbed her baby. It threw me off. OK, fine, I got some girl and her kid.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, the child he is talking about is Amanda Berry's 6- year-old daughter fathered by Ariel Castro. Cleveland police arrived within minutes. And until tonight, we have not heard from those first responders, the officers who broke into the house and freed the two other women who were still inside.
Now for the first time, you are going to hear their stories. In an interview they did with the city itself, published on its Web site, they reveal just how emotional those moments were for them. Officers Anthony Espada, Barbara Johnson and Michael Tracy say they do not consider themselves heroes. Here's their account of how the rescue went down.
OFFICER ANTHONY ESPADA, CLEVELAND POLICE: She called her car, you know, two, Adam, 23 for a code one. I responded, go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have a subject on the phone with a female, says her name is Amanda Berry.
AMANDA BERRY, ESCAPED FROM KIDNAP: Help me, I'm Amanda Berry.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you need police, fire or ambulance? BERRY: I need police.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. And what's going on there?
BERRY: I've been kidnapped and I've been missing for ten years. And I'm here. I'm free now.
ESPADA: We pull up, we see a crowd like on the porch. We see this girl, she's like raising her hand, holding a child. I'm looking at my partner, you know, is it her.
OFFICER MICHAEL TRACY, CLEVELAND POLICE: You're thinking it's got to be her. Even before I can stop the vehicle, came up close to the vehicle, carrying a small child waving at us. Before the vehicle could stop she's at the window and I looked up at her, and we look at each other and I go I think that's Amanda Berry. I think that's Amanda Berry.
OFFICER BARBARA JOHNSON, CLEVELAND POLICE: When I pulled up, I didn't see Amanda. I just saw officer Espada and officer Tracy running across the street toward the house. And I got out of my car and ran over there right behind them. And officer Espada kept yelling out Cleveland police. And kind of seems like an eternity but it was so quick at the same time.
TRACY: I'm like is that you, and just like on the tape, she's frantic. She's frantic with us, it's pretty chaotic. She's telling us who she is, she has been captive. The little child at the time, we didn't know was hers, is screaming and crying. So it was just crazy what was going on.
ESPADA: Just the emotion from that point of him confirming it was Amanda, it was overwhelming.
TRACY: I'm looking at her face and I can't believe what I'm seeing right in front of me. Nervous, the child she's holding is screaming. I'm thinking wow, we got her, we got her right here. She saved -- her child is safe. We don't know what's going on in the house. We don't know who's in the house, the suspect or something. So, I just asked her is there anybody else in the house. She goes yes, Gina Dejesus and another girl. I was like what?
ESPADA: It was like another bombshell, just with overwhelming force just hitting me. I believe I broadcasted that Gina might still be in the house.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Adam 23, you got a box coming? It might be for real. There might be others in the house. Georgina Dejesus might be in this house also.
ESPADA: Possibly she'll be in the house and we immediately started running towards the house. As we were going up the steps, it was so quiet, like peaceful, almost as if, you know, I started thinking OK, all we are going to do is clear this top floor. Nobody's going to be there, and just leave. And then you hear this scuffling, you know, something going on in this room. And you know, I'm looking that way just waiting to see what, you know, what's going to happen, and it was Michelle. She kind of popped out into the doorway and paused there for a second. Within moments she came charging at me, she jumped on to me, she's like you saved us, you saved us, and I'm holding on to her so tight. And then within a few seconds, I see another girl come out of the bedroom. I just look at her. You can immediately tell who it is, just thinner, and again, I just needed confirmation. And I asked her, what's your name? She said my name is Georgina Dejesus.
JOHNSON: You didn't hear anything, then all of a sudden, it was almost like the pitter-patter of feet running towards you. And next thing I know, someone is in officer Espada's arms. At that point, all I remember is when he put her down, she jumped up into my arms and held on to me and screamed please don't let me go, please don't let me go. I said honey, don't worry, I'm not letting you go.
ESPADA: Very overwhelming. I mean, it took everything to hold myself together. You know, I have Michelle in my arms and then you have Gina coming out, and it was like one bombshell after another. That's when I broadcasted, two-Adam-23, we found them. We found them.
JOHNSON: I can't even tell you the emotions that we felt. They were just unbelievable. And everything else was just a blur. It was just surreal. It was just unbelievable. Just the feeling of the heaviness in the heart just lifted, and then the next array of emotions, of -- I don't know, it was relief and then you just don't want to think of what happened to them so you just keep thinking positive and wanting to just encourage them that everything, that they're safe now and everything is OK.
TRACY: Words can't explain what was going through our minds that day. Just an overload of information and happiness. To find those two girls, those three girls, and the daughter alive was just unbelievable.
ESPADA: Like everybody was in the right place. It couldn't have got any better than that that day. I don't feel like a hero. I'm just glad I was there. You know, just making sure they were safe. I feel so happy for them. It was just unbelievable. It goes through my mind every day, I couldn't imagine the past 10, 12 years what they went through.
JOHNSON: The girls are the heroes in this story. They really did fought every day. They were the true heroes.
Joining me now is Scott Taylor, the investigative reporter for CNN affiliate WOIO.
Scott, you are finding us new information about the days surrounding when Ariel Castro allegedly kidnapped Gina Dejesus. What have you learned? SCOTT TAYLOR, WOIO INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: We started taking a look, Anderson, at his attendance records at the school. I just got a-hold of 2004, when Gina, the year Gina disappeared, just earlier today, and on April 2nd, you know, everybody knows now across the world that she disappeared on a Friday walking home from school, and I found out that Ariel Castro didn't show up for work that day. He also, Anders, didn't show up for work the day before, and the weekend passed. And police believe Gina was in that basement chained and gagged, and then he didn't show up for work the following Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. And the district has told me, Scott, that he didn't call in, in a timely fashion, so I think that they had no idea where he was, and he's going to really have to explain that to the police.
COOPER: And you've also been able to see Castro's most recent jail logs. What do they say about him?
TAYLOR: Yes. Well, he is still depressed, according to my sources. His attorneys really confirmed that when they started talking to the media yesterday. He is starting to talk to the people who are his jailors. He's saying thank you, he's being polite, he's saying have a good day. He really hasn't requested for a lot except he asked for -- to call his attorneys. His attorneys visit him at least once. He has a psychologist who comes in to take a look at him. He also has a nurse. He had a problem with his blood sugar last week, that looks like it's under control. He asked for a second blanket. But he spends a lot of time looking out a window on to the outside but that is really glassed over. He can't really see other than if it's night or day. Then he turns around and looks out into the pod. It looks like he's trying to find some human contact. He spends a lot of time lying in his bunk and looking up at the top bunk, just staring.
COOPER: And you have got also some information, I understand, about a retirement fund of him?
TAYLOR: Yes. Everybody is wondering in Cleveland how is he paying for these two defense lawyers, they have a really good history of taking care of their clients. They have actually gotten charges, an acquittal on murder charges and other sex crimes and we were wondering if he was taking his retirement fund that he built up over 21 years as that school bus driver for the Cleveland municipal school district. And right now, the people who run that, Anderson, tell me that he hasn't touched a dime of it. He can go in and take one lump sum out but he can't cherry pick what he wants to take out and so far, he hasn't touched a penny.
COOPER: Interesting. All right.
Scott Taylor, appreciate the reporting. Thank you.
Still ahead, new information about the mysterious death of a popular doctor and mom. A lethal dose of cyanide was found in her system. Question is, who gave it to her. The FBI is now joining the search for answers.
Also ahead, my interview with Jessica Buchanan, an American aid worker who was kidnapped by Somali pirates, held for 93 days and rescued by SEAL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Next thing I know they're pounding the windshield and windows with ak-47s and screaming and we're completely surrounded, and they yank the doors open and climb in and stick a gun to my head.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: In crime and punishment tonight, the mysterious death of a popular young doctor in Pittsburgh stunned her colleagues and her patients. Investigators know exactly what killed the doctor, his name is Autumn Klein, cyanide poisoning. The mystery is how did the well- respected neurologist end up with so much of the cyanide in her body? Investigators have not ruled out homicide.
Here's CNN's Martin Savidge.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Debbie Cassini was stunned when she read the letter from her physician's office.
DEBBI CASSINI, DOCTOR KLEIN'S PATIENT: When I read that she suddenly passed away, I just couldn't believe it.
SAVIDGE: It wasn't some serious diagnosis, but a notice to say her doctor was dead.
CASSINI: I can't say enough about how kind she was, and that's why I was just so shocked to hear what happened to her.
SAVIDGE: Many people were impressed with the doctor Autumn Klein and it's easy to see why. At just 41, she was one of the top experts in her field. Chief of the division of women's neurology at the prestigious University of Pittsburgh medical center. She was married to another successful neurologist and together, they had a 6-year-old daughter.
By most measures, Dr. Klein had it all. But on a recent Friday night, there were investigators searching her beautiful home, carrying out items like computers and vacuum cleaners, even taking the family cars, all in an effort to solve a tragic mystery.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This doesn't happen. This is like -- somebody said it's like a movie.
SAVIDGE: It all began on the night of April 17th on this street at the home of Dr. Klein. When according to authorities, her husband, 64-year-old Dr. Robert Ferante, called 911 to say that he thought his wife was having a stroke.
Dr. Klein was rushed to her own hospital, where she died three days later. But early test results suggest it was no stroke or heart attack or aneurysm. It was poison. The preliminary autopsy revealed she died of cyanide poisoning. The source close to the investigation says the levels in her system were enough to make her collapse in 30 seconds. But how did she get it?
Police looked at three possibilities, suicide, accident, or murder. Dr. Klein's parents say their daughter would never have killed herself. She had too much to live for. There was even talk of having another child. So I picked up the phone and called Deborah Bloom. She wrote the book on poison, the "Poisoner's Handbook." How likely is it to be an accident?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via telephone): I'd say extremely rare.
SAVIDGE: Cyanide is so deadly, Bloom says, an amount the size of a baby aspirin can kill, but it's not supposed to be easy to get.
(on camera): The most likely place that you would find cyanide would be --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In pharmaceutical laboratories and university laboratories.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): That could explain why authorities used search warrants and subpoenas to search the lab where Klein's husband works. A source close to the investigation confirms cyanide was found in his lab, but neighbors say there was no indication of trouble in the home.
BLITHE RUNSDORF, NEIGHBOR: She was very happy. She was very relaxed.
SAVIDGE: Dr. Ferante's attorney says authorities are looking at his client.
BILL DIFENDERFER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I'm sure what do they call it, person of interest or suspect. I don't think there's any doubt about that.
SAVIDGE: But Pittsburgh authorities would not comment about whether Ferante is the primary focus of suspicion, saying the investigation's being handled by homicide detectives, but no suspect has been named.
Lieutenant Kevin Krause, the commander in charge of the major crimes unit for the Pittsburgh Police told us that Dr. Klein's death is being treated as a suspicious death investigation. Renowned forensic pathologist, Dr. Cyril Wecht says in his long career, he can count the number of cyanide murders he's seen on one hand.
DR. CYRIL WECHT, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: About 70 percent or more are suicides, and the vast majority of the remaining percentage are accidents.
SAVIDGE: Those who knew her say Dr. Autumn Klein never liked to waste a moment. She got married on the same weekend she graduated from med school. As if knowing there was so much good she could do for her patients as long as she had the time. Martin Savidge, CNN, Pittsburgh.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Such a mysterious story. We'll continue to follow it.
There's a lot more happening tonight. Isha is here with the "360 Bulletin" -- Isha.
ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a gay rights march marred by violence. We're getting word thousands of people attacked in the Georgian capital. There are reports of at least 12 people injured.
A federal judge rejecting a request from lawyers for Boston marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to take periodic photos of their client. They say they want to document their client's injuries while in custody.
British police say they have identified a number of suspects in the 2007 kidnapping of Madeline McCann. She was 3 years old when she disappeared while on a family trip to Portugal. This comes as police launch a new investigation into the case.
More than $1 million worth of jewelry stolen from a hotel in Cannes, France. It comes on the second day of the famed film festival there. By coincidence, the same day aired the premier of "The Bling Ring," a movie about teens stealing from celebrities.
Anderson, the rush is on to pick up tickets for tomorrow's big Powerball lottery. The top jackpot is now worth more than $600 million. That is the second largest in U.S. history. We have a pool going. Are you in or are you out?
COOPER: No one told me about the pool?
SESAY: You want me to lend you a ten so you can be in?
COOPER: Yes, please.
SESAY: All right, I'll send you the IOU.
COOPER: Thank you. Isha, thanks very much.
Coming up, an American aid worker who was kidnapped in Somalia, held for 93 days, incredibly harrowing ordeal. She tells me about what happened, the conditions she endured and the night she was rescued by Navy SEAL Team 6 in fact.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The next thing I know, the pirates are up and they're alert and they're aiming their guns and then just this massive gunfire begins. (END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Tonight, incredible story of rescue and survival. In October of 2011, an American aid worker named Jessica Buchanan was in Somalia teaching children how to avoid land mines when she and her Danish colleague were kidnapped by Somali pirates and held hostage for a grueling 93 days.
Her ransom was initially set at $45 million and as her captors starved her day in and day out, she had no idea that anyone was thinking about her or coming for her. After more than three months in the desert with negotiations failing and Jessica's health declining President Obama gave the go ahead for U.S. forces to enter Somalia and bring Jessica's long nightmare to an end.
She describes her ordeal in a new book out called "Impossible Odds, The Kidnapping Of Jessica Buchanan and Her Dramatic Rescue By SEAL Team 6." I spoke with Jessica and her husband, Eric.
COOPER: Tell me what happened when you were kidnapped. You were driving down a road. How quickly did it all take place?
JESSICA BUCHANAN, AMERICAN AID WORKER KIDNAPPED IN SOMALIA: I mean, it was just a split second. We were in our three vehicle caravan with SPU, the Security Police Unit, in front of us and behind us, and then the ex-pats were in the middle. We were in our way back across the green line to the north office, where it was a bit safer.
We had been driving for 7 to 10 minutes and then all of a sudden, we get cut off from the right side by another vehicle, and they splash mud up over the windshield and I think, you know, what kind of idiotic driver is this who just completely cut us off.
Next thing I know they're pounding the windshield and the windows with AK-47s and screaming and we're completely surrounded and they yanked the doors open and climbed in and stuck a gun to my head and just take off. I mean, we just barrel down these camel tracks out of town into the desert, and I mean, that's how it continued for hour after hour after hour.
COOPER: Was there any explanation about who these people were, why they wanted you?
BUCHANAN: No, nothing. The initial like act of being abducted was terrifying enough, but it became heightened because we didn't know and we didn't understand who it was who had taken us, because from appearance sake, they looked like they could be Al Shabaab. They were --
COOPER: Al Shabaab is the Islamic militants, which that would be the worst case scenario. BUCHANAN: That would mean the worst case scenario because I'm American and I'm a woman. And I knew that if this indeed was Al Shabaab, then my hopes of survival were -- they were nil. So you know, there hadn't been very many kidnappings taking place on land or taking place in this particular area, so there wasn't any precedent set to know what was going to happen.
COOPER: When did you realize that she had been kidnapped?
ERIK LANDEMALM, JESSICA BUCHANAN'S HUSBAND: Just roughly a half hour or hour after it actually happened.
COOPER: So that quick.
COOPER: Which is good.
LANDEMALM: Yes, it was good. I got a phone call from her organization and told me that jess and her colleague had been kidnapped, didn't know who the kidnapper were. We didn't know where they were going. We had hardly any idea at all. Shortly after that, I also got a phone call from FBI telling me that they were on it and that was kind of some sort of relief in the midst of it.
COOPER: You were sleeping outside all the time.
BUCHANAN: We were outside the entire time.
COOPER: It rains a lot so you're getting wet.
COOPER: You've not much food.
BUCHANAN: Not much food. Not much clean water. Nothing really to wash with, you know. Hygiene was a real issue especially as a woman. They didn't understand my needs nor did they really care.
LANDEMALM: We had proof of life calls six or seven times during the kidnapping with Jess and her colleague, and at the end, on 16th of January, we received a phone call from Jess where she said that more or less I'm not going to make it. I think I'm going to die here.
COOPER: It was that phone call which really unknown to you, spurred the U.S. into actually pulling the trigger, literally.
COOPER: Did you think this was something that U.S. officials were aware of, that President Obama was aware of?
BUCHANAN: No. I mean, it's so humbling now on the other side of it to see what, you know, what the government will do for their citizens. I mean, I had no idea, no idea that anybody knew I was out there. COOPER: Because that's got to add to this feeling of complete misery, to feel -- it's one thing to feel like the world is paying attention and people know about it, but to feel like no one's paying attention.
BUCHANAN: No, absolutely. I mean, that's why I feel like the title of the book "Impossible Odds" is so perfect because I felt like I was in the most impossible situation I could ever face because the only way out, I saw, was paying ransom and $45 million was never going to happen, even it went down to 18 but millions of dollars, it wasn't going to happen. I didn't know how we were actually going to get out.
COOPER: In the phone call you made, you really had reached a point physically where you had serious medical problems. You were feeling you weren't going to make it.
BUCHANAN: Yes. Yes. I had developed a terrible urinary tract infection because of the unsanitary conditions and I knew it was heading into a kidney infection. And they were withholding any kind of antibiotics or medication from me as a form of punishment because the negotiations weren't going well.
And I knew that if I didn't get to help soon, some medication or something, I wasn't going to make it. So that's what I told them on my last proof of life call that, I was afraid I was going to die out there in the desert, and they needed to do something fast.
COOPER: Did you hear the helicopter come in at all?
BUCHANAN: No. No, absolutely not. I mean, it was as much a surprise to me as it was to everybody else. The night of the rescue, all I heard was scratching noises in the grass and I thought they were these large beetles coming out that always came out at night, and I'm looking, trying to slap away these beetles and can't find them so I tried to go back to sleep.
And the next thing I know, the pirates are up and they're alert and they're aiming their guns and then just this massive gunfire begins and all I can think is I'm being re-kidnapped, we're being taken by Al Shabaab, I'm not going to survive this. I'm sick, you know, I don't know who's coming after me. I don't know who's going to come and get me now, what am I going to have to face like I don't have the energy to do this anymore.
I am so tired, I am so exhausted and I am so -- I just, I don't have anything left and the next thing I know, I feel all these men's hands on me and I'm thinking, you know, trying to fight back and I hear a man say my name and he says Jessica, and all I can think is, you know, it's such a different sounding voice, it's a voice with an American accent and he pulls the blankets away from my face and I can't see anything.
It's just very dark. Everything is very dark and he says we're the American military and we're here to save you, we're here to take you home. And all I can say at that point is you're Americans, like how did Americans get here, because you know, I didn't hear anything, I just had no idea, just in complete shock.
COOPER: And there was a time as they're bringing you out where they thought more people were coming and they actually all piled on top of you.
BUCHANAN: Yes. They formed a human shield, a ring around both my colleague and I, and they asked me to lie down in the grass or in the scrub, and three of them laid down on top of me to protect me until the helicopters got there.
COOPER: When you heard those helicopters coming, what did that sound like?
BUCHANAN: Freedom. And they were so kind and chivalrous and trying to guide me. You know, something took over me even though I was very ill and I had even been having trouble walking and stuff, I just thought like I need to get on to this helicopter as quickly as possible, and so I just ran.
Like with everything I had in me, I ran and I threw myself on to that helicopter, and then I just crawled on my belly all the way to the other side against the wall, and I really, I don't think I started breathing until we were hundreds of feet up in the air.
And I knew they couldn't get me anymore, which seems ridiculous given the fact that who had come to save me, but I hadn't realized the magnitude of who these men were at that point until later on.
COOPER: They took a different chopper than you, right? So did you ever get a chance to meet them and thank them?
BUCHANAN: No. They just vanished.
COOPER: Is that something you would like to?
BUCHANAN: Yes. Yes, absolutely. I mean, I know that they know how grateful I am to them for what they've done, and they have given me my life back. But of course, you know, I think everybody who has gone through something like this would love to have the opportunity and the closure to just say how grateful I am.
COOPER: Thank you very much for talking to us.
BUCHANAN: Thank you for having us.
COOPER: Amazing story of survival and rescue.
Up next, the new food revolution going on in Libya, Anthony Bourdain stops by to tell us what he faced when he went there. He says it was by far the most difficult trip ever. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
COOPER: When you think about all that's happened in Libya recently, a culinary revolution is probably not the first thing that comes to mind, but now the Libyan people are getting their first taste of freedom and Anthony Bourdain traveled there for this week's parts unknown. I sat down for a meal with him recently to find out more about the trip.
COOPER: I remember you have been in war zones before. You were in Beirut when the war between Hezbollah and Israel broke out. What was it like going to post-Gadhafi Libya?
ANTHONY BOURDAIN, HOST, CNN'S "PARTS UNKNOWN": Libya was far and away the most difficult show I have ever done to date, to operate, to get the footage we needed and to do the things that we expected to do in a very fluid, ever-changing situation, every day the security briefing was pretty unpleasant, where we had to change our behavior. We like the restaurant or people we're going to visit to know we're coming. We couldn't do that. We had to really change our whole style.
COOPER: Because if you alert them in advance, there's potential for kidnapping or something like that?
BOURDAIN: We ended up essentially hiring a militia from Misrata as both our subjects and our protectors. Kentucky Fried Chicken -- Uncle Kentucky Fried Chicken, OK, we went to a chicken restaurant. It was like a Uncle Kentucky fried chicken, with a young kid who helped liberate the Gadhafi compound, who fought and killed people, he was so happy to be eating American style fried chicken in this garish little fast food restaurant.
He told us this is the taste of freedom. People showed things about themselves that you would not expect of people who had done the things that they had done and endured what they had endured. These are kids calling in air strikes, kids who on Thursday thought we're going to be living with Gadhafi for the rest of our lives. There is no option for us but the army or escape.
And on Friday they're looking at wow, we might actually have a chance. It was a thrilling, alternately frightening, grinding, ultimately inspiring and thrilling experience and there's going to be a turbulent situation for a long time, but anybody who says you know, the world is better off with Gadhafi, my blood will boil forever.
COOPER: If you haven't watched Anthony Bourdain "PARTS UNKNOWN," you should. It's a really good show. Even if you don't care about food like me, it's really fun to watch, Sunday, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, this Sunday.
Coming up, we can't seem to remember to change your baby's diapers? Is that an actual problem? There's app for that. The "Ridiculist" is next.
COOPER: Time now for the "Ridiculist." I got to ask you, how many times has this happened to you. You have a baby, everything is going great, you never realize your own capacity for love, et cetera, blah, blah, blah, but there's one problem. You just can't seem to remember to change the little one's diapers because you're always busy playing with your phone. If only there was some way that your urine- soaked baby could contact you via social media. The following video is in Portuguese, but I think you'll get the idea.
Huggies Tweet Pee, isn't technology great? Loosely translated, a sensor detects humidity inside the diaper and sends a message to mom and dad, or mom or dad, that it's time to change said diaper. Now, the humidity thing I get. It's moisture related but my question is, if it tweets for pee, what does it do when the baby drops a deuce? Does it post a picture on Instagram?
So when the Tweet Pee video leaked online, there was obviously a diaper rash of mockery and Huggies released a statement that reads in part quote, in the promotional video, the clip on humidity sensor is intended merely as a concept device. Nor are we suggesting parents are unable or too busy to notice when their baby's diapers need changing.
You can tell they mean it by the exclamation point there. P.R. notwithstanding, Tweet Pee is indeed a real thing. Huggies says it is being launched in Brazil in July. Ladies and gentlemen, mark down that date because we have officially bridged a gap between real commercials and "Saturday Night Live" parodies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Introducing chewable pampers. It's all the convenience of a disposable diaper in an eco-friendly package. You see chewable pampers are 100 percent edible. They're made from easily digestible vegetable fibers. Chewable pampers are super absorbent and super delicious. You can smell when it's working almost ready.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: See, that used to be a totally absurd concept. No way, right? But to borrow from the poet Shelley, when Tweet Pee comes can eat pee be that far behind? I would say more, but my dog just posted on Facebook that she needs to go out. Look, nature calls. I guess now, it also tweets.
By the way, check out "Saturday Night Live" this weekend. There's something on that's very, very funny. I'm sure there are many things but one that I know about. That does it for this edition of 360. We'll see you again one hour from now at 10 p.m. Eastern. Thanks for watching. "PIERS MORGAN LIVE" starts now.