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Washington Bridge Was "Functionally Obsolete"; A Very Personal Decision; Preview of Zimmerman Defense; All Gassed Up, Ready To Go

Aired May 24, 2013 - 06:30   ET



ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news, a frightening scene this morning when a Washington state bridge collapses, sending cars plunging into the icy water below, people inside those cars.


And new information in the Trayvon Martin murder case. Recent released clues could show how George Zimmerman's defense will play out.

SAMBOLIN: And Jodi Arias sentencing, it was declared a mistrial.

Will a new jury give her life or death?

BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. Great to see you. A lot going on this morning. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. Twenty-nine minutes past the hour.

We're going to begin this morning with breaking news. A bridge collapsed, sending cars and passengers plunging 40 feet down into the frigid river 60 miles north of Seattle.

Take a look at those pictures. Three people are in the hospital this morning. Incredibly there, nobody was killed. The bridge gave way last night along Interstate 5 in the rural town of Mount Vernon, Washington.

CNN has also learned the span was rated functionally obsolete, that bridge was, by state transportation officials before this incident. That does not mean the bridge was structurally unsafe. Investigators are also looking into the possibility that a bridge was struck by an oversized vehicle.

BERMAN: New developments this morning in the Trayvon Martin case. Just released court evidence may be a preview of how George Zimmerman's lawyers plan to defend their client, including text and images portraying the teenager in perhaps images that are not so flattering.

CNN's David Mattingly has the story.


DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Are these the photographs of a troubled and violent teen? Pictures and text messages from Trayvon Martin's phone, made public by George Zimmerman's defense attorney, suggest the 17-year-old was no stranger to pot, to guns, and to fighting.

MARK O'MARA, ZIMMERMAN DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I'm not sure if it's recreation or whatever, but he is very used to fighting. That he has used drugs in the past, and, again, many 17-year-olds have, but that he has as well.

MATTINGLY: Three months before he encountered George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin sends text messages about a fight, saying his opponent didn't bled enough, only his nose.

Less than a week before the fatal encounter, Martin texted, "I hid my weed," "It's wrapped," and "I got weed and I get money Friday."

The attorney for Martin's family says the messages, images, and their implications are irrelevant.

BENJAMIN CRUMP, MARTIN FAMILY ATTORNEY: Are they saying George Zimmerman was justified in killing Trayvon Martin because of the way he looked. It's the same stereotypical mindset that caused George Zimmerman to get out of the car and chase Trayvon Martin. And that's just unacceptable in America.

MATTINGLY: Trayvon Martin was unarmed the night he was shot and killed by George Zimmerman. But a week before, he seems to be trying to sell an automatic pistol and apparently turns down an offer of $150.

(on camera): It's possible a jury may never see the texts or photos, but his attorneys are making it clear, if prosecutors try to attack George Zimmerman's character, then they're prepared to do the same to Trayvon Martin.

David Mattingly, CNN, Atlanta.


SAMBOLIN: Thirty-two minutes past the hour.

New developments this morning, the British soldier murdered on a London street has been identified. He's 25-year-old Lee Rigby. There's a picture of him. He was struck by a car and then hacked to death by two men. This was Wednesday after.

The two men accused of killing Rigby claimed he was targeted because British troops have attacked Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A man who knows the suspect, Michael Adebolajo, had this to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ABU BARRA, FRIEND OF SUSPECT: He has always been very vocal and concerned about the affairs of Muslims and people being oppressed. And he could never tolerate anybody to really be oppressed without to do or to say anything.


SAMBOLIN: Two other people were arrested yesterday in connection with Rigby's murder.

BERMAN: A 7-year-old girl who lost part of her leg in the Boston marathon bombings is now out of the hospital this morning. Jane Richard has been moved to a rehabilitation facility after spending 39 days in the intensive care unit at Boston's Children's Hospital. She is the sister of 8-year-old Martin Richard, of course, who was killed by the second explosion near the Boston marathon finish line. That family has been through an awful lot.

SAMBOLIN: They have endured so much.

BERMAN: They're so happy that she's healing.

SAMBOLIN: And they say that she was in really good spirits also, that it was tough for the nurses to let her.

All right. Thirty-three minutes past the hour. They tried, but jurors in Jodi Arias' murder trial could reach unanimous agreement on life or death for the woman convicted of murdering her ex-boyfriend. A new jury will be seated for the new punishment of the trial. That is set to begin in July.

BERMAN: Carrie Underwood is so moved by the tragedy of the Oklahoma tornados that she's donating $1 million to the Red Cross for disaster relief. That's wonderful. In a statement, the Oklahoma native said, "I've watched the devastation in my home state of Oklahoma over the last several with great sadness."

SAMBOLIN: And one star we can't barely recognize lately and another who says he can't recognize anyone at all. That's coming up on EARLY START.


BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone.

Angelina Jolie had a double mastectomy because she carried a gene mutation that can often lead to breast cancer. But there are some women without that gene who go ahead that same decision.

SAMBOLIN: I'm going to share a very personal story here. I did announce it, I'm having a double mastectomy, I have diagnosed cancer in my left breast. The right one is kind of unusual.

But there's a lot of controversy these days about women who decide to go ahead and have a double mastectomy when they don't have the BRCA gene, or only cancer in one breast. So, I'm sharing my personal story so that folks can see how I made the decision and also a very young girl who also had to make the same decision that Angelina Jolie made.


SAMBOLIN (voice-over): It often started with a lump or a shadowy figure on a black and white screen. Then, suddenly, your life unwinds.

DR. PETER JOKICH, RADIOLOGIST: This we know is cancer.

SAMBOLIN: That's how it happened to me.

JOKICH: Any of these other spots in either breast can be the same thing. They can be benign. They can be malignant. We really don't know.

SAMBOLIN: All the doctors know for sure is that this one dot in my left breast has encapsulated cancerous sales. It's called ductal carcinoma in Situ, the most common form of non-invasive breast cancer. All those white bloods and blue blips captured in dense breast tissue, could very well signal more cancel, or be nothing at all.

JOKICH: You have a four to five times greater risk to develop breast cancer than the average woman.

SAMBOLIN: It's that uncertainty that's led me to choose a procedure increasingly done by women fearful of getting invasive breast cancer. I will soon undergo a double mastectomy, choosing to remove not only the cancerous tissue in my left breast, but the tissue my doctors say look suspicious in my right breast.

JOKICH: You're whole thing is you don't want to die of breast cancer.

SAMBOLIN (on camera): No.

JOKICH: And so, that's like that's the bottom line of all this.

LINDSAY AVNER, BRIGHT PINK: So, this is my great grandmother Lillian and grandmother Sandra.

SAMBOLIN: And they both die.

AVNER: Both died a week apart on breast cancer.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Lindsay Avner had no signs of breast cancer when she underwent a preventive double mastectomy at 23, but she did have fear.

AVNER: When I was 12, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Ten months later with ovarian cancer. So, these diseases have stalked my family for years.

SAMBOLIN: Those fears were confirmed by genetic testing that says she had the same mutation predisposes women to breast cancer, the one discovered in Angelina Jolie.

AVNER: The anxiety of just waiting to get cancer versus doing something to actually reduce my risk of developing it is what prompted me to make the decision to have the double mastectomy.

SAMBOLIN: Lindsay's organization Bright Pink advocates aggressive risk action, that makes sense in women with a gene mutation, say many doctors. But deciding to remove healthy breast tissue and a woman without a gene is more complicated.

DR. SEEMA KAHN, BREAST SURGEON: We really don't have any good evidence that removing a healthy breast will help women prolong her life or live a better. So, a lot of what drives those decisions is related to anxiety about a new tumor on the other side.

SAMBOLIN: A lumpectomy followed by radiation is the most common way to treat my type of breast cancer. The survival rates are similar to those who chose mastectomy. But I was not comfortable with so many suspicious areas on my scans.

(on camera): I want to show everybody the MRIs.

(voice-over): I didn't want more biopsies, potentially missed cancers and years of anxiety and screenings.

(on camera): Would you recommend for me to have a double mastectomy?

DR. THOMAS WHITT: Zoraida, I would recommend it to you only because that was your choice upon your looking it all of the information that you looked at.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Dr. Thomas Whitt counsels patients to make decisions based on facts, not fear. But that doesn't mean personal considerations won't play a role.

(on camera): So, the fear factor.

WHITT: One is the fear of having a cancer. Then there is the fear of the intervention itself. There's the fear of losing your breast. What will my husband or boyfriend think about me, what will I think about myself, how will my sexuality be affected?

And women that have a strong fear in that direction are more inclined to want to save their breast unless they actually have a diagnosed cancer.


SAMBOLIN: So that breast surgeon who actually raised the concerns, Dr. Seema Khan, she is actually going to be performing my double mastectomy a week from now, on Tuesday. And another surgeon will be performing reconstructive surgery that same day.

So, when you hear from me next, I'll show you how those procedures went and I'm going to give you a window into what women face once they have gone up against breast cancer surgery and once they've had a double mastectomy.

BERMAN: So, I just want to say one thing here, because I have been in awe of you over the last several weeks as you've gone through this. Simply in awe of your strength.

The only time I saw you waver is all is when I suggested that I might come hang out with you a little bit while you were recovering. You were really upset about that. So, I'm not going to bug you.

But I did want you to know that even though I won't bug, that I will certainly be with you in spirit as the founding member of Team Z, not just Z, but super Z. We're all with you. All part of team Z right here, the entire staff.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, sweet. My goodness.

BERMAN: We're all part of team Z right here, the entire staff, with you through this whole thing.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you. These are all of the folks that work tirelessly on our show and have supported me. I'm sorry.

I know, I know, I know. This is my strength.

BERMAN: You are our strength and we're all here for you. You know that we're all behind you, everyone is here.

SAMBOLIN: That is the sweetest thing ever. Thank you.

Can I say one more thing because it's really important?

BERMAN: Please?

SAMBOLIN: The young girl that you saw in that piece, she has a Bright Pink organization that I absolutely love and this is why. As I look at my beautiful young women here, because what she does is makes sure that young women know how to do a breast exam. We're told to do this so often in our lives, yet we don't know exactly thousand do it.

So, go to her website and down load all of this information because her goal is to save lives. And she is going to do it and hopefully, we will part of that message as well.

BERMAN: You will part of that message. Team z, wear it strong, wear it proud.

SAMBOLIN: This is my family.

BERMAN: We'll be right.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you. That is so sweet!


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. Forty-seven minutes past the hour. This is brand-new video into CNN of a British Airways flight emergency landing. This was at Heathrow Airport early this morning. The Oslo bound (ph) flight turned back shortly after takeoff due to a technical fault.

All crew and passengers were evacuated safely. Three people, however, were treated for minor injuries.


SAMBOLIN: Incredible video. Somebody has their cell phone going, apparently, right --

BERMAN: Not supposed to look like that.

SAMBOLIN: -- during an emergency landing. Yes.

BERMAN: Millions of Americans ready to hit the road for the big Memorial Day weekend. AAA expects some 35 million people will travel at least some 50 miles from home for the holiday travel that kicks off the summer season. Most people will be driving. Alina Machado is live at a highway overpass in Atlanta to tell us how it's going so far and what it looks like for the next several hours.

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, right now, it looks like what it would typically look like for a rush hour traffic here in Atlanta. Things are moving relatively smoothly, but I think it's safe to say that we can expect things to pick up as the day goes on. Now, this, despite the fact that AAA says fewer people will be traveling this Memorial Day holiday compared to last year.

Fewer people will also be flying. Most people, as you mentioned, will be driving, 89 percent or 31.2 million people will be getting in their cars today and heading out for the holiday weekend. Most people will be heading out to see family. We also know some people will be going to amusement parks or theme parks. And we want to take you to Orlando where Disney is open.

They opened at 6:00 a.m. in Orlando. They're going to remain open for a 24-hour period. We know that they're going to do the same thing with their theme parks in California just to jump start this summer travel season. Now, there are several apps available, several tools to help you navigate through traffic situations if you plan to head out today. And some good news we want to share with you.

We know that several states have temporarily suspended their construction projects for this weekend to make it easier for people to get around -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Alina Machado, thank you so much in Atlanta today.

Of course, the weather could be another major part of this getting around for some people here this morning, heading into the holiday weekend. Indra Petersons is here with the Memorial Day forecast. Hey, Indra.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Well, if you're going to be driving, flying, I have the direction for you -- south, unfortunately. Look at the (INAUDIBLE) bringing all this cold air into the northeast. We already felt the rain yesterday. More of it on the way, and temperatures 15 to 20 degrees below normal. And I want to show you something so atypical for this time of year.

Notice the pink, that would be snow washes (INAUDIBLE) through Memorial Day weekend. And we're going to start to see a little bit of snow at the highest peaks -- playing in snow by any means. I'm just saying the air is really cold out there and that's kind of a chill we're going to be seeing out towards the northeast.

Now, the farther south you go, watch the rain. Notice as we go through the weekend, it will start to see lift up from the south and eventually make it's way all up the eastern sea board. So, of course, every day, we'll get a little bit better for us. And by Monday, most of us should be enjoying the sunshine (ph) we want to see. We're just not going to see it that whole weekend through.

Hamptons, a lot of rain in the forecast except for Monday, itself, but we talked about the south, so beautiful. If you can make up the Hilton advertising, about 80, 70 of sunshine. The whole package, right, exactly what you're looking for. Nashville, we'll start to see some showers there by Sunday and also Chicago, see some showers by Sunday. But overall, the moral of the story --

SAMBOLIN: Go south.


BERMAN: Such a shame to see the people on the Hamptons suffering.


BERMAN: We wish them all the best.


SAMBOLIN: Thank you, Indra. I know, you must have mad Memorial Day --


BERMAN: I don't want it to rain.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Actress Amanda Bynes is now facing felony charges after allegedly throwing a bong out the window of her 36th floor New York City apartment. Police got a call last night from the building manager who claimed that Bynes was smoking an illegal substance in the hotel lobby as well.

Bynes is accused of tampering with evidence, a felony, along with reckless endangerment and marijuana possession, which are both misdemeanors. She's wearing a wig there.

BERMAN: Apparently, no charges surrounding the wig as far as we know.



SAMBOLIN: But there should be.

BERMAN: Brad Pitt, Brad Pitt may have a medical condition of his own. A brand-new interview in "Esquire," the actor says he has so much trouble recognizing the people he meets that he may be suffering from an illness known as face blindness. Pitt says he's never been actually diagnosed with having a condition which is, gosh, officially called prosopagnosia.

SAMBOLIN: Which we both suffer from.

BERMAN: Exactly.




SAMBOLIN: President Obama and Governor Chris Christie have an upcoming date. Why the president is traveling to the Garden State next week?

BERMAN: Reunited.

SAMBOLIN: A bromance again.


BERMAN: So, President Obama hits the New Jersey shore next week. He and New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, will visit communities rebuilding from hurricane Sandy. Of course, that storm back in October destroyed thousands of homes, cost billions of dollars in damages. neighborhoods destroyed by hurricane sandy. You'll remember that the president and the governor surveyed the destruction right after the storm hit. Christie, a Republican, has praised the president's, a Democrat, handling of the recovery efforts.

SAMBOLIN: Well, Memorial Day brings the unofficial start to summer, and many business on the Sandy battered east coast are still recovering. But in a new AAA poll, 79 percent of travelers say the storm has not changed their summer plans. Sixty-nine percent say they will spend the same or more time at the Jersey shore. As CNNs Poppy Harlow reports, the race is on to turn the former disaster zone into a summer paradise.


POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM: The iconic boardwalk in Seaside Heights, New Jersey coming to life again after Sandy.

MAYOR BILL AKERS, SEASIDE HEIGHTS, NJ: We said it would be done by Memorial Day weekend, and it's going to be done. HARLOW: Mayor Bill Akers said 85 percent of the boardwalk's businesses will be open by this weekend. All they need now?

AKERS: People. I mean, you need good weather and you need people.

HARLOW: The owner of Lucky Leo's is depending on it.

STEVE WHALEN, OWNER, LUCKY LEO'S: This is where I make 100 percent of my money is right here on this boardwalk.

HARLOW: But the problem is many of the people have no homes to come back to. Just down Ocean Avenue in Mantoloking not one house spared.

MAYOR GEORGE NEBEL, MANTOLOKING NJ: Just tears come to my eyes every time I drive up and down 35 and look at those houses.

HARLOW: Famous for images like this. Bill and Louie Mettler lost the home they've lived in for decades.

BILL METTLE, FORMER MANTOLOKING RESIDENT: The supports gave way. The porch dropped down -- the house toward the ocean.

HARLOW: This week, they watched that home come down.

LOUIE METTLER, FORMER MANTOLOKING RESIDENT: It's so sad. It's being destroyed. That we couldn't save it.

HARLOW (on-camera): Of the 520 homes here in Mantoloking, 56 of them washed away the night Sandy struck. Many, many more are so damaged their uninhabitable, being torn down one after the next after the next. All in, Sandy took about 40 percent of the homes in this town. Now, a beach so eroded it offers little protection from future storms.

NEBEL: Most people will want to rebuild and will rebuild. I think the reluctance will exist until we can guarantee them safety from the similar storm.

HARLOW (voice-over): Mayor George Nebel fighting for 20-foot high dunes, a protective wall beneath them and quadrupling the wits (ph) of the beach. But even with those improvement --

LOUIE METTLER: Oh, God. We look young there.

HARLOW: -- the Mettlers are leaving with the few momentos --

LOUIE METTLER: Oh, that's always been one of my favorite pictures of you.

HARLOW: -- saved from the rubble.

Poppy Harlow, CNN, Mantoloking, New Jersey.


SAMBOLIN: Such a tough decision. The town mayor also says that many homes were destroyed in Mantoloking, that it's tax base has fallen half a billion dollars. Sandy brought $37 billion of damage to New Jersey alone. The state is set to get nearly $25 billion in federal recovery funds. And on Monday, Poppy will be live in Seaside Heights with the result from this critical Memorial Day weekend. We certainly wish them a lot of luck, and hopefully, a lot of folks will show up.

That is it for EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin. "STARTING POINT" starts right now.