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Two Missing in New York Boat Accident; Miami Hostage Standoff; Weiner's Sexting Impacts Race; San Diego Mayor Seeking Treatment; NSA Leaker Remains in Russia; A Mother's Journey with ALS

Aired July 27, 2013 - 13:00   ET


PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Thanks so much for letting us into your living room on this Saturday. I'm Pamela Brown in for Fredricka Whitfield. And here are the top stories we're following in the CNN NEWSROOM.

A bride is missing after what was supposed to be a fun night of boating ended violently in New York. Her wedding is just two weeks away and her family, as you can imagine, is devastated. We are live from the scene up next.

And in Russia Edward Snowden sits and waits, still stuck inside an airport terminal. But outside the politics heat up as the country considers his asylum request. So what could this mean for the U.S. and Russia?

And a mayor accused of sexual harassment, a mayoral hopeful admits to sexting. We ask a sex therapist what's really going on here and do these guys think they can get away with it.

A pre-wedding joyride on a boat ends in a horrifying accident in New York. Two people including the bride-to-be are missing. Four others are injured. And as you can just imagine, the bride's mother is devastated by this news. Take a listen to what she has to say.


CAROL STEWART, LINDSAY STEWART'S MOTHER: What we understand from her fiance, they hit something. He called 911. He was unconscious, reached for his phone when he came to. There were three people in the boat with him out cold. And Lindsay and Mark Lennon, who is their best man, are missing. She's supposed to be married two weeks from today, yes. It just can't end like this.


BROWN: You just cannot even imagine what that mother is feeling. It's just agonizing to hear her.

Alina Cho on the phone with us now.

You've been covering this story, Alina. Tell us about the missing. We know the bride-to-be and the best man were supposed to be in the wedding in two weeks. What more can you tell us? ALINA CHO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pamela, as you look out on to the water you actually can see the search boats right now. The search is well under way, the two people who are missing. Among them, as you mentioned, this 30-year-old woman named Lindsay Stewart, a bride-to-be, due to be married exactly two weeks from today. The other missing person is said to be the best man in the wedding. Four people were injured in this boating accident but thankfully survived.

Here's what we know about what happened. Apparently this boat left the marina near where we are right now at about 10:00 last night. It was a 21-foot stingray, a small speed boat with six people on board. Not long after they left the marina, the boat apparently hit a barge near the Tappan Zee Bridge. If you know the area, this is about 25 miles north of New York City.

The groom was on the boat. Among the survivors. When the accident was -- when it happened, he was knocked unconscious. When he woke up, he called 911.

BROWN: And --


ROBERT VANCURA, UNDERSHERIFF OF ROCKLAND COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: There were four people remaining on the boat when the boat was located just south of the Tappan Zee Bridge. They had various head injuries and one party was unconscious.

WILLIAM BARBERA, CHIEF OF PATROL, ROCKLAND COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: We still have two people missing. We are beginning our search this morning to go back out and try to attempt to locate the two missing individuals.


CHO: As I mentioned, the search is under way for these two missing people. Within the past hour or so, we did see the parents of Lindsay Stewart, this bride-to-be, of course. They are hoping for a miracle. The mother tells me that they were not wearing lifejackets which is not good news.

And as the search continues and the hours pass, Pamela, of course, they become less and less hopeful that these two people will be found alive -- Pamela.

BROWN: You mentioned you spoke to the mother of the bride-to-be. Any more reaction from family of the missing?

CHO: Yes. We learned a little bit, I mean, obviously these two parents were incredibly distraught. They are awaiting for any sort of news. Obviously hoping for the best possible news. But they did tell me a bit about Lindsay and her wedding plans. She said that they were due to be married nearby in two weeks, that she had planned the wedding herself, that she and the groom had actually known each other since they were 10 years old. They went to church together and started dating about three years ago. Both were said to be workaholics.

They live not far from where we are. But clearly this was a couple that had their entire lives ahead of them, and right now the groom is in the hospital suffering from massive head injuries. Apparently unable to speak and headed into surgery -- Pamela.

BROWN: And you just have to think, you know, this is supposed to be the most exciting part of this woman's life and just your heart goes out to her parents right now. We just hope that there will be a positive resolution.

Alina Cho, keep us posted.

Moving to San Diego now. Scandal-ridden mayor is trying to save his career and his reputation by going to therapy. Mayor Bob Filner announced yesterday he's entering a behavior clinic for two weeks of intensive therapy to start addressing what he calls inappropriate behavior.

Seven women are accusing Mayor Bob Filner of unwanted groping, kissing, or other harassment. And one of his accusers told CNN's Poppy Harlow about one alleged incident that happened back in 2009 when Filner was a congressman.


MORGAN ROSE, ACCUSED MAYOR FILNER OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT: He got up. He came over, he sat next to me in the booth, pinning me in, and I don't remember because it was such a suspension of time and space in my life, this was so unexpected. That I don't remember if he directly asked for a kiss or tried to kiss me. But it became it was very uncomfortable.


BROWN: And just ahead, I will talk with a sex psychologist about Filner's behavior and what kind of help he'll receive over two weeks' time and if that's enough. That's going to be coming up.

And in the meantime, today marks 60 years since the signing of the agreement that ended the Korean War and commemorating the truce in honoring the thousands killed in the war. President Obama told the crowd at the Korean War Veterans Memorial the country has learned many lessons from 60 years ago.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Korea taught us the perils when we fail to prepare. After the Second World War, a rapid drawdown left our troops underequipped, so in the early days of Korea, their rockets literally bounced off enemy tanks.

Today, as we end a decade of war and reorient our forces for the future, as we make hard choices at home, our allies and adversaries must know the United States of America will maintain the strongest military the world has ever known bar none always. That is what we do.


BROWN: More than 35,000 Americans died in the Korean War.

And meanwhile in the reclusive North Korea, the country celebrated the agreement which it calls a North victory with a huge military parade as we see. Two hours of tanks, bands and goose-stepping under a blazing sun in Pyongyang there in North Korea.

And here's a look at what's trending at this hour. The sister of the man who Jodi Arias admits to killing plans to throw a day of celebration party for his birthday tomorrow. Travis Alexander would have been 36 years old. His sister also has invited some of the jurors who found Jodi Arias guilty of murder to the private party.

Police say a sex offender who was released from a Vermont jail is now headed to California. Timothy Zag made national headlines when the state of Vermont put out a warning to possible neighbors detailing what type of child he could strike again. He was sent to prison in 2001 for attacking a kid he saw playing in the woods.

And the parents of actress Amanda Bynes have requested conservatorship over her but a judge reportedly needs more time to decide. Bynes, a former Nickelodeon star, is sitting in a psychiatric hospital right now. She was detained after she was accused of lighting a gas can on fire in someone's driveway.

And a horrific night in one south Florida community. A standoff leaves six people dead and lots of questions to be answered. We'll have the latest on what happened there in south Florida up next, right after this break. We'll be right back.


BROWN: People living in a south Florida apartment complex are left stunned and in mourning after six people were shot dead in an overnight standoff. It all happened in the Miami suburb of Hialeah.

CNN's Nick Valencia has the latest details.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Scary moments for this quiet south Florida neighborhood. Witnesses call 911 after hearing multiple gunshots at an apartment complex in Hialeah.

SHAMIRA PISCIOTTI, DAUGHTER OF VICTIMS: I heard about 15 to 20 shots, and so I went outside, and my neighbors were screaming that my parents had been shot.

VALENCIA: Shot and killed. The first two victims in Friday night's shooting spree were a husband and wife, who managed the apartments.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Great people, you know, great grandparents. I can't even say, they're just flawless grandparents. VALENCIA: In an interview with CNN police described the chaos as they cornered the shooter. Barricaded inside an apartment he took two other people as hostages.

SGT. EDDIE RODRIGUEZ, HIALEAH POLICE DEPARTMENT: They coordinated with SWAT and eventually they went in and they rescued both hostages that were inside and the subject was also killed.


VALENCIA: Police found three other bodies in the apartment complex and one across the street. All together during the eight-hour ordeal seven people were killed including the gunman. Police have not released his identification or established a motive, but they tell CNN that the suspect's mother lived at the apartment complex -- Pamela.

BROWN: All right. Nick Valencia, thank you for that report.

Well, safe to say he really wants to be the next mayor of New York, but will Anthony Weiner be able to get past the latest chapter of his sexting scandal? And what about his wife? Can she save his campaign?

Fredricka Whitfield and Gloria Borger talk politics right after this break.

And we're less than two months away from the Nautica Malibu Triathlon where our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta and his "Fit Nation" team of viewers will compete. And this week we get an update on how the three teammates are doing in their training.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good morning, "Fit Nation."

WILL CLEVELAND, FIT NATION TRIATHLETE: Basically everything's going well.

DOUGLAS MOGLE, FIT NATION TRIATHLETE: Douglas Mogle here checking in from Atlanta, Georgia.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I started this whole journey, I couldn't run 40 seconds, and now I'm a runner.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not about being elite or not, it's that we're stronger together than we are apart.

CLEVELAND: Working out on a regular basis, watching my weight, trying to eat right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's about the rhythm of your stroke.

MOGLE: You know, I'm at the point now where I know that I'm going to finish the race, but finishing is no longer good enough for me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I won't say this has been easy. It's been one of the hardest things I've ever done. Has it been worth it? Absolutely.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So we're going to do it one more time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hopefully it's the beginning of lots more triathlon.



BROWN: In the race to be mayor of America's largest city, indeed the financial capital of the world, it is not crime, health care, or education they're talking about, it's former Congressman Anthony Weiner and his sexually explicit text messaging. Polls had shown Weiner leading the field but now after new revelations of more sexting, and NBC 4 New York/"Wall Street Journal"/Marist polls show Weiner trailing Christine Quinn now, the speaker of the New York City Council. She's at 25 percent to Weiner's 16 percent among New York Democrats.

Fredricka Whitfield talked with CNN's chief political analyst Gloria Borger about the race.


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: As Anthony Weiner's campaign for mayor of New York City takes a big hit with voters, many conversations about this scandal continue to revolve around Weiner's wife, Huma. What did she know? Why did she stand by his side at a press conference this week, implore to voters to do the same, forgive him, believe in him?

CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger wrote this on earlier this week about the dynamics of the campaign and the Weiner marriage. Gloria writing this, "Is running for mayor a required part of couples therapy? This should be a private matter, but once Weiner threw his hat in the ring asking for redemption, it became a lot less private."

Gloria joining me now from Washington.

So this united front of Huma and Anthony Weiner sharing the spotlight, what are the potential political benefits of this strategy?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think that if Huma had not spoken on behalf of her husband, I don't know whether he'd still be in this race. I mean, it's very clear to me that Huma going out there, speaking the way she did as emotionally as she did, saying, I love him, you know, that she trusts him and that he believes in him, was a message to the voters that if she has forgiven him, as she said, then they should do the same. And I think that, you know, that's a very, very powerful message coming from the wife, right?

WHITFIELD: Yes, it is. Usually, oftentimes, you'll see the wife perhaps standing by her man but not necessarily speaking.

BORGER: Right.

WHITFIELD: Except I do recall Maria Shriver doing that for Arnold Schwarzenegger way back when -- while he was running for governor.

BORGER: She did.

WHITFIELD: So, you know, this is a very powerful moment, but you have to wonder whether this campaign, whether there is a breaking point, you know, what is being weighed to determine, should he stay in the race or move on?

BORGER: Well, you know, at this point I think he's in the race. I think that the poll numbers, as you know, are headed in the wrong direction for him. There's a question of whether he would make it into a runoff in the Democratic primary. He's being, you know, New York reporters are aggressive --

BROWN: Dogged.

BORGER: So -- dogged. And so, you know, the candidate, you see him there, he's being followed everywhere he goes. And the problem for him right now, set aside the personal issues, which are hard to set aside, is as a candidate you try to make the campaign about your opponents, talk about how you would do a better job for the city of New York than either of your opponents.

Right now he can't seem to get away from answering questions about how many women he was involved in sexting with. And, you know, that's not good for his campaign at all.

BROWN: No, it's not. It's not -- not to know that number. So --

BORGER: Right.

BROWN: Now what about Huma, you know, in terms of her visibility? Yes, she was on that united front in that press conference, but do they have to remain publicly very much a pair in all of this?

BORGER: I think -- I think so. I mean, you know, she is sophisticated, savvy, smart, elegant, and I think she told the public that she is all-in in this campaign. And before this most recent problem, she had become more visible on the campaign trail. And I think, you know, just logistically that's a problem because then the focus becomes on her, and she's not used to being in the -- in the political spotlight, so I'm sure that's tough for her personally.

But it's clear to me from watching her that she is a partner in this campaign, and that this -- you know, this running for the mayor is a joint decision they made.

BROWN: Do you think she has political aspirations of her own given she is familiar with campaigning, but usually in the background, now out in front? BORGER: You know, I doubt she's thinking about that right now. I think that she is a former top aide to Hillary Clinton, somebody who's been involved in politics, but who's been with Mrs. Clinton when she was at the State Department. I doubt that her aspirations are running for political office. It seems to me that she married into that.


And that she's surrounded by it. But she seems to me to be somebody who is very comfortable behind the scenes with Hillary Clinton. Somebody who is very loyal and, in fact, has shown her loyalty to her husband in this race.

BROWN: So looking into your political crystal ball, how do you see this evolving? How do you see this ending potentially?

BORGER: Well, I think it's a really uphill struggle for Anthony Weiner to become mayor of New York. Political experts I talked to in New York wonder whether he's going to make it into that -- into that runoff. His poll numbers are headed in the wrong direction. His favorability is headed in the wrong direction. So, you know, I think the odds become longer and longer and longer for him to win this race.

BROWN: Gloria Borger, thank you so much. Good to see you.


BROWN: And Anthony Weiner and San Diego's Bob Filner are both embroiled in sex scandals. Now that Mayor Filner is choosing to seek treatment for his inappropriate behavior, I'll talk to a therapist who specializes in sex addictions. How big of a problem is it and how is it treated.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BROWN: We have some breaking news on the boat accident we've been telling you about. A pre-wedding party's boat crashed into a barge in New York with a terrible outcome. The best man is still missing at this hour and four people including the groom-to-be were injured. There is a press conference taking place right now with new information. Let's listen in.

VANCURA: We can report at this time that we did recover one body, appears to be a female body. Just recently off the shore in the Piermont area, between the marina where we were set up and the Tappan Zee Bridge.

BROWN: So he's stopping short of saying that is the bride-to-be, but as he said, a female body was recovered there in the Hudson River. Just a tragic story there out of New York and we'll keep you apprised of any new developments.

And moving over to Egypt now, violent clashes leave dozens dead in the streets there and the violence may not stop after a report from the interim interior -- minister, rather, that ousted President Mohamed Morsi will likely be moved to a prison. He's facing allegations that he collaborated with Hamas before he was elected.

Last night's violence left anywhere from 46 to 74 people dead according to conflicting reports there.

And in Spain a judge has until Sunday night to decide whether to officially charge the train driver in Wednesday's deadly crash there. The driver Jose Francisco Garzon is in custody accused of reckless homicide. The crash killed at least 78 people.

And San Diego Mayor Bob Filner is hoping therapy or behavior therapy, as he calls it, will be the answer to saving his career and saving face following a flood of sexual harassment allegations. Seven women are accusing Filner of unwanted groping, kissing, and other inappropriate behavior but instead of bowing to pressure to resign he announced yesterday plans to get counseling.

All right. Let's get to Darcy Fietsam right now. A certified sex therapist to talk more about this. She joins us now from Charleston, South Carolina.

And you specialize in treating sex addictions. Tell me how that works exactly, to start off with here.

DR. DARCY FIETSAM, AASECT CERTIFIED SEX THERAPIST: Thanks for having me on the show. Sexual addiction is treated in in-patient treatment just as any other addiction is, only it's specifically suited towards people that have inappropriate sexual behaviors.

BROWN: All right. In this case, what do you think, do you think this really is sexual addiction? Do you think this is misogyny, narcissism? As far as what you know with Mayor Filner, what's your take on it?

FIETSAM: My take on Mayor Filner is that he is an egotist and a narcissist. And the problem with narcissists is that they don't have empathy for their victims. There's been a pervasive pattern of degradation of women in his office and this is not just simply sex addiction. This is a belief that he's above the law. He can do whatever he wants and this pervasiveness of the degradation needs to be ended not necessarily by treatment by a change in office.

BROWN: And, Dr. Fietsam, in that case, do you think this is incorrigible behavior or do you think intensive therapy could be the solution here? I mean, he's saying two weeks of therapy, he's saying it's going to be ongoing therapy. Do you think that's going to help?

FIETSAM: I do think that therapy helps. I think it's important for him to have an awareness of what his behavior has done to his victims. However, we've known since 1991 that sexual harassment is against the law, since Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas. It doesn't take two weeks to solve a problem that in 20 years with all the information that we have about sexual harassment being illegal that we can expect that his behavior is going to change. Two weeks does not change a character disorder in a personality in a person. BROWN: What do you make of the fact, Dr. Fietsam, that he's saying that he's not going to resign? What's that all about?

FIETSAM: In any other work place in America, if you are guilty of having seven people bring allegations of sexual harassment to the level of degradation that he did, he would be fired. We will -- we must not tolerate this in America. It must be an example so that we can elevate the status of women within the workplace.

BROWN: And as he said, you know, these are allegations at this point and this will play out in court. But he is admitting that he has a problem and he's seeking therapy, so we'll have to see how this plays out.

Dr. Fietsam, thank you very much.

FIETSAM: Thank you.

BROWN: And tomorrow morning at 6:00 on "NEW DAY SUNDAY" the second woman to accuse Filner of sexual harassment tells her story and she'll tell us what he thinks about his move to seek therapy.

Meantime, new details have surfaced in the Edward Snowden case. The U.S. offers a guarantee that may get Russia to reconsider sending the NSA leaker home.

An update on the diplomatic standoff coming up.


BROWN: And we're learning more about how the U.S. plans to handle the case of NSA leaker Edward Snowden. Attorney General Eric Holder told Russian authorities the former computer contractor will not face the death penalty if he's returned home.

Snowden faces espionage charges back in the United States for leaking sweeping details about the U.S. surveillance program, but that doesn't mean he won't end up staying in Russia.

David Barrett is a professor of political science at Villanova University. He's in Philadelphia for us.

So, tell us, David Barrett, who's in a tougher position right now, Vladimir Putin or President Obama? What's your take?

DAVID BARRETT, POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR, VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY: They are both in very awkward positions. This is some sort of intelligence coup for Putin and for the Russian government, but in the longer term as the weeks and the months go by, I'm not sure that Snowden can continue to provide them with very much useful information, and meanwhile it's disruptive to their relations with the United States.

It's disruptive for Putin's particular plan to have one-on-one meetings with President Obama, prior to the G-20 meeting in September, which isn't too far off, so this is not great in all respects for Russia.

But for President Obama, there's a real challenge here. He, in his presidency, has attempted to be very strong on national security issues, and the idea of Snowden being out there somewhere, whether it's Russia or some other country, and continuing to speak publicly and perhaps privately to intelligence agencies of other countries, this is not a good scenario for President Obama either.

BROWN: And we've heard Vladimir Putin say that he doesn't -- he doesn't want Snowden to continue to hurt the U.S. and so forth, so if he does say in Russia, he could be silenced. I mean, that is a possibility and obviously a better option for the U.S., right?

BARRETT: Well, it's -- on the face of it seems to be better for the U.S., for Snowden, if he is going to continue to be in Russia. If he gets out of the airport and he stays on in Russia, it's something for the U.S. if Snowden is silenced by the Russian government. However, that does mean that the Russian government can continue to ask lots of questions in private of Snowden, so it's not an ideal solution for the U.S.

I don't think that the U.S. government is prepared just yet to say, yes, that's what we will agree to. It's better than some other possibilities, but it's not great if that's the scenario --

BROWN: Right.

BARRETT: -- of Snowden being silenced. It's something, but it's not very good for the U.S.

BROWN: And right now the U.S. still wants him to come back here facing those espionage charges. But what does Russia has to gain --


BROWN: -- by keeping Snowden there? I mean, obviously he could have some more information, but as we've learned from officials he doesn't have the crown jewels, as they call it. What do they have to gain considering how this could hurt U.S./Russia relations?

BARRETT: Honestly, I think for the longer run, beyond a period of some weeks or a couple of months. I don't see what Russia has to gain from keeping Snowden there. So I think it's very much in their interests for Snowden to go elsewhere.

On the other hand, for Russia to turn Snowden over to the U.S. is very unpalatable for Putin and the Russian government because it seems like then they're being excessively differential to the United States government.

Meanwhile, Snowden has many admirers around the world, so that's not very attractive. But, again, from the U.S. vantage point, it seems obvious to me that President Obama is serious about this. He wants Snowden back to face the legal processes.

BROWN: Yes, you mentioned all the support for Snowden. It's very different from back in the 1960s when two American citizens defected to Soviet Union. This is just -- this is very similar, but also very different in the same way when you look at all the support. And you have to wonder, David Barrett, what his life is going to be like if he defects to Russia or elsewhere outside the U.S.

BARRETT: Well, I agree. There were two young men who defected from the U.S. to the Soviet Union in 1960. They were employees actually of the NSA. And so that event in August, September 1960, was the first time that massive details were released to the world about National Security Agency. And it did harm U.S. interests.

But those two young men thought, when they went to the Soviet Union, were moving to a workers' paradise. That's what they thought. What they discovered was that life in the Soviet Union wasn't very good and they led long and unhappy lives.

Now Snowden may have a better scenario ahead. I think Russia these days is a better place to be than the Soviet Union, you know, 50 years ago. But I think he has obviously discovered -- Snowden has discovered, that life -- in his situation life is very hard and may be very hard for a long time to come.

BROWN: Either way it looks bleak for him. All right, Professor David Barrett, thank you very much.

Well, imagine being duct-taped from head to toe with only the use of your eyes. That's how ALS patients feel. Coming up, we get a firsthand look from one of our very own, CNN anchor Suzanne Malveaux shows us the pain, agony, and the fighting spirit of her family as her mom battles the disease. A special report you do not want to miss when we return.


BROWN: It is a cruel disease, a thief, ALS. We know about it because of Lou Gehrig's graceful exit from the game that he loved and who could forget that famous image of Gehrig telling the cheering crowd, "I'm the luckiest man on the face of the earth."

Very few know about what came after that moment about Gehrig's disease, death, or 73 years later. What caused his disease, ALS? Sadly my colleague, Suzanne Malveaux knows all about ALS. Her mother has this disease.

You know about this all too well, Suzanne, and you've been working on this story involving your mother for a while now. I know it's very emotional to tell the story but it's also doing some good because you're raising awareness about it.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: And I appreciate the attention that are given to this, Pamela, because it was just a year and a half ago that my mother got this diagnosis. It has really challenged her. It has challenged our family in a way that we could not possibly predict. It has also redefined what it means to be alive. This is our story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These alarms are going off and mom is choking. She can't cough. She can't swallow.

FLOYD MALVEAUX, HUSBAND: She was struggling for the next breath.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX (voice-over): But just five months prior she was leading the Mardi Gras parade at her birthday party.

F. MALVEAUX: You know she is the life of the party. There's no doubt about it.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX: Always vibrant. Glamorous. And energetic. Young looking beyond her years. But then my father started to notice subtle changes.

MYRNA MALVEAUX, ALS PATIENT: I pretty much thought that must be him.

F. MALVEAUX: The loss of a smile. And she had the most radiant smile. She was unable to really control her facial muscles and her lips and so on, and she says, I can't kiss anymore.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX: But soon other odd difficulties developed.

F. MALVEAUX: She tripped and fell a couple of times, and then the change in her voice.

M. MALVEAUX: Be careful.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX: After several trips to various doctors, our family got the shocking news. Mom was diagnosed with ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease.

DR. JEFF ROTHSTEIN, ALS SPECIALIST: It's a disease where the cells in your brain and spinal cord, the cells that control our muscles, slowly degenerate. They die.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX: A fatal condition that would paralyze her limb by limb. First taking away her ability to swallow. Then speak. Then breathe.


F. MALVEAUX: You become angry. Cry a lot.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX (on camera): I just felt like being on the floor was the most comfortable place, like the only place I wanted to be.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been angry as hell.

F. MALVEAUX: A whole host of emotions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was just very afraid.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX (voice-over): Mom responded differently. Embracing her New Orleans roots, let the good times roll. In 2012, we squeezed in two family reunions, a beach trip, a birthday party, a visit to the White House, and her own wish come true.

M. MALVEAUX: Totally insane.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX: To drive an 18-wheeler.

M. MALVEAUX: I can do it.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX: But life for mom got tougher fast. Within a year she could no longer swallow or breathe on her own. Speaking also became very difficult.

F. MALVEAUX: Are you angry or --



M. MALVEAUX: I'm not angry. I'm just dealing with it. Day by day. And no, I'm not angry. At least not yet.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX: Mom decided to fight. First by going before the FDA to push to make drug trials more available, something that was too late for her.

SUZETTE MALVEAUX: Mom has always said, I'm on board. Well, I urge you to get on board, too.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX: Mom also wanted to tell our family's story. But the week we were scheduled to do our interview, mom was rushed to the ER with pneumonia which changed everything.

F. MALVEAUX: And she was having difficulty breathing and she says, I'm exhausted.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX (on camera): She was so, so scared. You could see it in her eyes how scared she was.

(Voice-over): Mom was transferred to Johns Hopkins where there are ALS specialists.

F. MALVEAUX: I thought we could have lost her that night.

ROTHSTEIN: Your mother was in the end stage of ALS. She would have moved into a coma and she would have died within a few days.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX: Instead mom chose an extraordinary lifesaving measure, to get a tracheotomy, a tube hooked to a machine that would force air into her lungs and breathe for her. A game-changer.

ROTHSTEIN: We haven't cured them of their disease, but we do keep them alive.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX: Ninety percent of ALS patients do not get a trach, either because they don't have the money, the resources or the desire. Keeping alive is hard work for mom. Since she cannot clear her throat, a machine has to do it for her. A procedure which is done at least a dozen times a day relieves the feeling that she's drowning. Mom uses a word board to spell out our conversations.

(On camera): (INAUDIBLE) is very tall.


(Voice-over): Occasionally through a speaking valve put on her trach, she's able to talk just a few sentences at a time.

(On camera): Can you say hello?


SUZANNE MALVEAUX: Hello, I love your voice.

M. MALVEAUX: I love your voice.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX (voice-over): It would be nine weeks in the hospital learning how to care for her before mom would be able to come home on life support.

(On camera): Breaking out. Getting out of here.

M. MALVEAUX: I miss momma. Good luck.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good luck, good luck, good luck.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX: Her journey is bringing us closer together and changing us as a family.

F. MALVEAUX: I learned I have inner strength I didn't think I had.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX: Mom's message to all of us?

M. MALVEAUX: Be strong.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX: Because after all, mom is still mom.

SUZETTE MALVEAUX: She's still, you know, giving me a hard time about my curly hair being messy or --



F. MALVEAUX: She's a fighter.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX: These days mom has a new sense of freedom. Zooming around the house in her motorized chair usually with grandkids in tow. The sun on her face, surrounded by family, she's still leading the parade.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BROWN: What an incredible woman your mother is.



BROWN: Suzanne --

SUZANNE MALVEAUX: I appreciate that.

BROWN: Clearly she is a prisoner in her own body but she still has that fighting spirit and she is motivating all of us, including you, to be strong. I love how she said that. What have you learned?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX: You know, it's funny because when I'm having a bad day, she says, Suzanne, don't be a wimp. And I'm thinking, OK, this is from the woman who is in the chair, you know?


BROWN: Right.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX: It really is amazing because her spirit is there, her mind is there. You had brought up the analogy before, if you imagine what it's like, really, to be duct-taped head to toe and just have your eyes open that that's essentially what it's like to have ALS, and it really is about the emotional connection that you have with the person you love that makes them really alive and come to life. Because if you can imagine, that really is how we define our lives now.

It's not about whether or not you can breathe or eat or speak but whether or not you have that kind of emotional connection.

BROWN: And so she has -- you know, it doesn't affect her cognitively or any other way, it's just her body is basically shutting down on her, it seems.

And, Suzanne, what I -- what struck me watching this is the beginning of the piece when you see her at the parade, and then five months later she was diagnosed with this. It's amazing how quickly it can come on. What were the symptoms you saw in your mother?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX: It was very fast and it was very subtle. So this is why ALS is so confusing in a way because her speech started to slur. So you think maybe that's a stroke or she tripped trip and fall, you'd think well, maybe that's arthritis. So you really -- I mean, unless you test for certain that neuro muscular diseases, you're not going to really pick this up any time soon.

And the other thing is that 90 percent of this is completely -- it's random, it's sporadic. It is not passed on genetically, so there are so many questions about where this disease comes from. They're looking at athletes, they're looking at veterans, they're looking at the environment, but they still haven't actually figured out something that connects all those different groups. But, you know, I mean, my mom is still very independent.

We have a van, the motorized chair, she gets out to church. I mean, we're going -- we're taking trips, road trips, these kinds of things because she has that spirit, she has that life inside of her, still.

BROWN: It certainly has not tempered her spirit and she's a fighter and she's moving forward with her life. And thank you for bringing this to our attention, Susan.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX: No, really, thank you. Thank you for paying attention.

BROWN: Thank you for coming back on. I know you were here early this morning, and producer Dave Brown says thank you for coming back.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX: As my mom would say, don't be a wimp, Suzanne.

BROWN: Exactly. Don't be a wimp and you are certainly not a wimp. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX: Thank you, Pamela. I appreciate it.

BROWN: And if you would like to know more about how to help to find a cure for this deadly disease, just go to's "Impact Your World." That's You can also go to Suzanne's Web site,

We'll be right back.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BROWN: We have some breaking news on the boat accident we've been telling you about. A pre-wedding party's boat crashed into a barge in New York with a tragic outcome.


VANCURA: We can report at this time that we did recover one body. It appears to be a female body just recently off the shore in the Piermont area between the arena where we were set up and the Tappan Zee Bridge.


BROWN: That states -- that female body presumed to be the bride-to- be. The best man is still missing, and four people, including the groom-to-be were injured. The wedding was just two weeks away.

Ariel Castro has reached a plea deal. He is the man accused of holding three women captive for nearly 10 years in his Cleveland house. Castro will serve a life sentence plus 1,000 years and he avoids the death penalty as a result of that plea deal. His victims say they are relieved by the deal which spares them from testifying at a trial. And the Lincoln Memorial has reopened after vandals splashed green paint on the base of the statue Thursday night. It's a first for the 91-year-old iconic memorial. Police say they were viewing surveillance video to try and find out who vandalized it.

Stay with us.


BROWN: Hello, everyone. Welcome back. Thanks so much for watching CNN NEWSROOM on this Saturday. And coming up in the 3:00 hour of NEWSROOM, the holocaust may be forever cemented in history, but it's also current investigation in Germany. Officials are renewing the church for former Nazis.

Plus there is a bug going around and it's a nasty one. Elizabeth Cohen takes a closer look at the stomach virus that could land you in the hospital.

And there were no smartphones snapping pictures of everything in the Nixon White House, but there were some old video cameras, and the moments they captured have never been released until now. We have a fascinating look coming up at 3:00 Eastern Time. I watched that movie last night and it is fascinating.

I'll see you back in the CNN NEWSROOM an hour from now. First more trouble on Wall Street in the summer of scandal. Are your investments safe?

Christine Romans has answers. "YOUR MONEY" starts right now.