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Bridge Collapse In Washington State; Trashing Trayvon?; Remembering Antonia; Oregon's Public Safety Issues; Holiday Rush; Clinically Dead Mom Gives Birth; Brad Pitt's Face Blindness?; Out Of The Hospital; Birmingham Bombing Victims To Be Honored; Amanda Bynes Arrested; "Now You See Me" Nodding

Aired May 24, 2013 - 07:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, everyone. I'm John Berman.


BERMAN: These are live pictures we're going to show you right now of a bridge collapse in Mount Vernon, Washington. This is about 60 miles from Seattle. It happened late last night. Cars and passengers went plunging into the frigid water. No one died. Three people were rescued there, now in the hospital, incredible that all they suffered were injuries right there. No deaths.

We have since learned that the bridge along Interstate-5, which is a major thoroughfare there. It had been rated functionally obsolete. That means it had not been updated in a long time. Officials say it gave way when an 18-wheeler with a wide load crossed and apparently struck part of that bridge.

ROMANS: New developments in the Trayvon Martin case, just released court evidence maybe a preview of how George Zimmerman's lawyers plan to defend their client, texts and images portraying the teenager as a thug. CNN's David Mattingly joins us live from CNN Center in Atlanta. Good morning.

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine. Looking at this new evidence, it's possible that Trayvon Martin may have actually helped George Zimmerman trying to convince a jury that he is not a murderer.


MATTINGLY (voice-over): Are these the photographs of a troubled and violent teen, pictures and texts message from Trayvon Martin's phone made public by George Zimmerman's defense attorney suggests the 17- year-old was no strange to pot, to guns, and to fighting.

MARK O'MARA, ZIMMERMAN DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I'm not sure if he is recreational or whatever, but he is very used to fighting that he has used some drugs in the past and again, many 17-year-olds have, but then 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 bleed 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, the images and their implications are irrelevant.

BENJAMIN CRUMP, MARTIN FAMILY ATTORNEY: Are they trying to say George Zimmerman was justified in killing Trayvon Martin because of the way he looked? It's that same stereo typical mindset that caused George Zimmerman to get out of the car and chase Trayvon Martin and that is just not acceptable 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.


MATTINGLY: If they stick to the facts of just what happened that night when this fight took place and Trayvon Martin was killed then it is possible the jury may never even hear about these text messages or even see these photographs, but it's clear that the defense attorneys for George Zimmerman are saying that if the prosecutors attack George Zimmerman's character, they're prepared to do the same thing to Trayvon Martin -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right, David Mattingly in Atlanta. Thank you, David.

BERMAN: It's 33 minutes after the hour right now. We'll have the latest on the tornado that caused so much destruction and heartache earlier this week in Oklahoma. The first of 24 funerals for the storm victims took place Thursday honoring the all too brief life of 9-year- old Antonia Candelaria who died at Plaza Towers Elementary School.

Antonia known as Toni and Lady Bug, she loved to dance. She loved to sing. She did most of the words of the song on country music radio. She loved to draw, paint, make crafts, and she leaves behind her mother and two sisters.

Amidst the grief, there are so many tails of heroism and heart warming moments. Alex Barnett nearly died in the rubble of his home until two people heard his screams and dug him out. Alex got to meet the man who saved him last night on CNN's "PIERS MORGAN LIVE."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, how are you doing?

ALEX BARNETT, TORNADO SURVIVOR: Thank you very much. Thank you. God bless you.



BERMAN: That's wonderful. He says he plans to take the two men that saved him to lunch to properly thank them.

ROMANS: The state of Oregon considering legislation that would declare a public safety emergency in cash strapped counties where there is a dangerous shortage of police. In some cases, law enforcement agencies have stopped sending officers. A situation evidenced by this stunning 911 call.


UNIDENTIFIED DISPATCH: You know, obviously if he comes inside the residence and assaults you, can you ask him to go away or do you know if he is intoxicated or anything?

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: I've already asked him. I've already told him I was calling you. He's broken in before, busted down my door, assaulted me.


ROMANS: The woman was allegedly raped by her ex-boyfriend who had just broken into her home.

BERMAN: The IRS official overseeing the unit that targeted conservative groups has been placed on leave. Lois Lerner admitted to the practice two weeks ago, but at a House hearing earlier this week, she declined to testify. She took the Fifth. In 2010, Tea Party applications for tax exemption were singled out for scrutiny. Last week, the acting head of the IRS, Steven T. Miller, resigned over the scandal.

ROMANS: Another internet oops for Anthony Weiner, the former congressman's bid to become mayor of New York have to assemble (ph). When Weiner's new web site first launched on Wednesday, it featured a skyline of Pittsburgh instead of The Big Apple.

BERMAN: Pittsburgh is not New York.

ROMANS: No, 24 hours later, the wrong images replaced by shots of New York. The marketing firm that handled the web site is apologizing for the error and taking full responsibility. We should say usually they outsource these sorts of things, right. You hire a marketing firm to market you and then they marketed Pittsburgh.

BERMAN: Most marketing firms should know that (inaudible) Pittsburgh and New York. All right, whether you're traveling on the road or in the air, you're going to have plenty of company this weekend, maybe too much. AAA estimates 35 million people will go at least 50 miles from home during this holiday weekend. Most people will be driving. So how is it going to go? CNN Alina Machado is live for us in Atlanta this morning. How is it looking?

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, it's actually not looking too bad right now. We're in the middle of rush hour. Traffic here in Atlanta as you can see behind me traffic is moving steadily. They're expecting a lot of people to be hitting the roads even though AAA says fewer people will be traveling this year for Memorial Day when you compare to last year.

Fewer people will also be flying for the holiday. Most people as you mentioned about 89 percent of all travelers will be driving. That's about 31.2 million people. Now Memorial Day, traditionally, is a big road trip holiday. Most people will be going to visit their family and friends.

There's also a few of them who will be going to amusement parks, the theme parks. We want to take you to Disney in Orlando for a live picture there. We know that they opened at 6:00 a.m. Eastern today. They are going to be open for a 24-hour period. Disney will be doing the same thing. Remain open for 24 hours at their theme parks in California.

Now if you're going to be heading out today, be prepared to deal with some traffic. There are some tools available for you to be able to navigate around those hot spots. If you go online or download some apps and it's worth noting some good news. Several states are cancelling, temporarily suspending some of their construction projects this weekend to make it easier for people get around -- John.

BERMAN: Anything that they can do to keep these cars moving simply wonderful. Alina Machado in Atlanta this morning where the cars are moving. We'll see how it looks in about 3:00 or 4:00 this afternoon. Thanks, Alina.

Now we want to tell you an amazing story, the eight-pound miracle that everyone is talking about in Missouri City, Texas. Back in February, English teacher, Erica Nigrelli, was nine months pregnant and still hard at work when she suddenly collapsed. What happened next really it still has people shaking their heads.


BERMAN (voice-over): Three-month old Alana Nigrelly may have redefined what it means to be a miracle baby. She was born while her mother was technically dead. Her mother, Erica, was 36 weeks pregnant and teaching at a Texas high school when suddenly she felt different.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Apparently I told her I feel very faint.

BERMAN: Moments later she passed out. Her heart stopped beating. That's when three of her co-workers sprang into action performing CPR and using a defibrillator until paramedics arrived. Erica's husband, also a teacher at the same school, just two doors down called 911.

UNIDENTIFIED DISPATCH: Missouri City 911, what is your emergency?

HUSBAND: My wife is pregnant. She is having a seizure. The baby is due in three weeks, my God.

BERMAN: Doctors performed an emergency C-section to save her baby. They say technically it was a post-mortem delivery since her heart was not beating and there was no sign of a pulse. With Baby Alana delivered successfully, doctors turned their attention to Erica and something amazing happened. She was brought back to life. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were two lives hanging in the balance the whole time.


BERMAN: Really, almost beyond belief. But we have proof for you, Erica Nigrelli, Nathan Nigrelli, and Baby Alana join us right now. Boy, are we so happy to see you this morning. Alana seems to be loving this already. Let me ask you, guys, how are you doing and how are you feeling?

NATHAN NIGRELLI, HUSBAND, ERIC NEGRILLI: Well, we couldn't be better. You know, we have the Lord to thank for all of this, and he has been watching us constantly this whole time. We also have what we call our angels to thank. And of course, the kids have been yelling at me for a couple of days because we forget to mention them.

It all happened in a classroom and there were students there and they ran for help. So the kids, we're sorry we keep forgetting about you, but we feel wonderful. Everything is taking on a sense of normalcy. We have a wonderful baby right here. My wife is back to 100 percent, and it's truly a miracle.

ROMANS: Let me tell you when I was learning about your story, every person that came into contact with you from that moment, Erica, when you felt faint, everybody did the right thing, the students, running to get the school nurse, running to get you. The people every single person seemed to just go into overdrive to get you where you are. What happened? Do you remember much about what happened? You felt faint. You put your head down. Why did you pass out?

ERICA NIGRELLI, MOM WHO DELIVERED BABY WHILE CLINICALLY DEAD: Well, technically I passed out because my heart stopped. I have a heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. It's that is HCM for short. It's technically a thickening of the heart lining. It's also coined as the term Athletes heart. So when you see 15 and 16-year-old kids essentially playing basketball, they will pass out.

And when they pass out it's because of this, and if they don't get help in time, their heart stops too long and they die. That's why they put defibrillators in the school in the first place. So I'm a lucky recipient of that defibrillator for sure.

BERMAN: Lucky doesn't begin to cover it. I don't think. You know, a lot of parents, a lot of moms -- I don't make light of this, but you know, when Alana grows up, are you going to say I died to deliver you? It's crazy.

ERICA NIGRELLI: I have like the best ammunition for the rest of her life. She can never do anything wrong, ever.

NATHAN NIGRELLI: And if she does, do you know what we went through to bring you into this world and hopefully that will give her a guilt trip to sort of listen to us.

ROMANS: How is her health? I know she was on oxygen for awhile, feeding issues, but she looks vibrant and healthy and strong.

ERICA NIGRELLI: Thank you. Thank you. She is very strong. She is probably stronger than a lot of us actually, but she is still on oxygen. She is on a feeding tube still, but the doctors think she may be off of the oxygen early next week, and if not the next week. Her feeding tube, we'll start her occupational therapy and physical therapy. That has already started, so we go to infant PT and OT.

NATHAN NIGRELLI: And we don't see any of those things. We see just a regular, I mean, I guess, you know, in quotation marks, a regular little baby, and my wife isn't any different and just to think about to the 15th of February and the weeks that followed, nobody knew what the new normal would be.

What stage would she get to, would Erica stop making progress, would we have to get used to a new Erica, but thank God, here she is. And people and myself, we look at her, and I don't see anything different whatsoever.

BERMAN: Erica, you look great. Alana is beautiful. We got official comment from her. Thank you so much for that, guys. We are so happy you're doing well. Thank you so much for being with us this morning. We really appreciate it.

ROMANS: Every couple has a labor story. That is the labor story to end all labor stories. It's nice to meet all three of you.

Ahead on STARTING POINT," he is one of the most recognizable people in the world, but he may have trouble remembering everyone else's face. Does mega star Brad Pitt suffer from face blindness? Well, that explains why he never remembers me. You're watching STARTING POINT.


ROMANS: Carnegie Melon University has extended an invitation to actor, Brad Pitt, to come in for an examination. It's because Pitt believes he suffers from a frustrating medical condition.


ROMANS (voice-over): He has one of the most celebrated and recognizable faces in Hollywood, but if you're ever fortunate enough to meet Brad Pitt not once, but twice, don't be offended if the 49- year-old star doesn't recognize you.

In an interview with "Esquire" magazine, Pitt reveals that he constantly struggles with remembering faces of people he's met. Pitt says he is convinced he suffers from face blindness. The condition is called "prosopagnosia," an inability to recognize the faces of familiar people.

Pitt tells "Esquire," quote, "So many people hate me because they think I'm disrespecting them. You get things like you're being egotistical. You're being conceded. I took one year where I just said this year I'm just going to cop to it and say to people, OK, where do we meet, but it just got worse." Brad says he's going to get tested to see what's going on. It's a mystery to me, man. I can't grasp a face. CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta spoke to famed neurologist, Oliver Sacks, who suffers from facial blindness and wrote a book on the condition.

OLIVER SACKS, NEUROLOGIST: Sometimes I fail to recognize myself. Yes, I have occasionally started apologizing to a clumsy bearded man. Only to realize that this is a mirror and this is my reflection.

ROMANS: Now one of the world's most well-known stars is putting a face to the name of a condition that still remains a medical mystery.


ROMANS: Joining me now from Atlanta to explain a little more about the strange medical condition face blindness, CNN's senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen. Elizabeth, sometimes you can't place it or you meet a lot of people you don't know, but this is something specific. When someone has face blindness and they see your face, what do they see?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: What they see is kind of what a dyslexic sees when they read. They may be able to identify individual letters, but when you put it together, they just don't grasp what the word is. So I'm going to give you an example and this is from one of the doctors that we talked to about this.

You can see this, Christine. You know that's a face, right? You see there are two eyes, a nose, and a mouth. You know it's a face, but if you're like me, you probably can't figure out who is that? Because it's upside down, right. So you know it's a face, you see the features. But when we turn it right side up, you can see, Lindsay Lohan.

Like it's pretty quickly apparent and that's what people with face blindness see. They see individual features, but they can't put it together to grasp the face as Brad Pitt put it.

ROMANS: So Brad Pitt says he is going to get testing for this. What will they do?

COHEN: Yes, Carnegie Mellon, as you mentioned, has invited him to test. So we asked the folks at Carnegie Mellon, all right, so what would you do if Brad Pitt walked into your office tomorrow. They said the first thing is they would show him a series of famous faces, Bill Clinton or Tom Cruise to see if he could recognize --

ROMANS: Or Brad Pitt.

COHEN: Brad Pitt is in the series of faces. I don't know if they would take it out or leave it in to see how bad the disorder might be. But here's what they would do next, Christine, is they would show him two faces that are very similar and see if he could make a distinction between them.

So if you take a look at these two faces, you know, you and I don't have this disorder. You can probably tell one is wider than the other. They have different noses like they are different. People with face blindness cannot make a distinction between these two faces.

ROMANS: Interesting. All right, Elizabeth Cohen, thanks so much, Elizabeth.

BERMAN: What is the first thing you would do if Brad Pitt walked into your office?

ROMANS: Examine him just like Carnegie Mellon.

BERMAN: All right, it's 51 minutes after the hour right now. Ahead on STARTING POINT, Michael Cane's voice is apparently enough to make Morgan Freeman fall asleep on live TV. We'll have details on this amazing video, next.


ROMANS: A 7-year-old girl who lost part of her leg in the Boston marathon bombing is out of the hospital this morning. Jane Richard has been moved to a rehabilitation facility after spending 39 days in an intensive care unit. She's the sister of 8-year-old Martin Richard. Of course, the little boy was killed in the attack.

BERMAN: This afternoon, President Obama will posthumously honor the four girls murdered in 1963 at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. They're being awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. That attack, of course, a key event in the civil rights movement.

ROMANS: New this morning, actress, Amanda Bynes arrested and taken to the police station after wearing a big blond wig. Bynes is accused of tampering with evidence after allegedly throwing a bong out of the window of her 36th floor apartment. That's a felony charge. Officers were called to Bynes' apartment last night by the building manager who claimed that the actress was smoking an illegal substance in the lobby. Bynes is also charged with criminal possession of marijuana and reckless endangerment for throwing out things of a 36th floor window.

BERMAN: So look at this, promoting a movie maybe harder than it looks.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Show you how it was done without CGI.


BERMAN: So Morgan Freeman didn't seem particularly fond of that story. He appeared to doze off while co-star Michael Caine talked about their new movie called "Now You See Me." Freeman later issued a tongue and cheek statement claiming he was a beta tester for Google eyelids, updating my Facebook page. I would never do that to you?

ROMANS: What were you saying? BERMAN: You don't have to fall asleep.

ROMANS: He already knew that story.

BERMAN: Ahead on STARTING POINT, a bridge collapse in Washington State sends three people into the river below. We have the latest developments and amazing pictures at the top of the hour.

ROMANS: Then Jodi Arias will have to wait to learn her fate with a mistrial declared in the penalty phase of her case. What happens in the never-ending drama of Jodi Arias? You're watching STARTING POINT.