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Colorado Rockslide Deaths; Children, Congress Needs Lesson in Fair Play, Compromise; Barred from Wedding Site?; Fencing Teacher Fends off Robbers

Aired October 2, 2013 - 08:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: You're watching NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to NEW DAY. It's Wednesday, October 2nd.

And there is a somber vigil this morning for five family members killed Monday in a tragic Colorado rockslide. The only survivor, a 13- year-old girl. She lost her parents, her sister and her two cousins. Well now we're hearing a story of her heroic father that she said saved her from those rocks. Kyung Lah is in Colorado for us this morning.

Good morning, Kyung.


This all began as an ordinary hike that, in an instant, turned into a freak accident that has stunned this small town.


LAH (voice-over): Hundreds in Buena Vista filled the high school football stadium to remember the coaches who guided them and the young friends lost.

Five members of the same family, all crushed under boulders the size of cars. The only survivor, 13-year-old Gracie Faith Johnson, her leg broken, but pulled out alive by a first responder.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He didn't see Gracie at first, but he heard somebody screaming and he was able to start digging.

LAH: Gracie's miraculous survival celebrated at this high school, as they mourned the lost. Dwayne Johnson, an electrician, coached football part-time, his wife Dawna, waited tables at two restaurants to support her family and helped coach the track team, Gracie's sister Kiowa was a senior here and the Johnson's two nephews, Paris and Baigen, were visiting from Missouri.

The family decided to go hiking Monday morning on this popular trail recommended in guide books for children. The sheriff's department says recent heavy rain and freezing temperatures loosened the massive boulders and triggered the slide. The reason Gracie is alive? Her father saw the boulders coming.

LAH (on camera): Gracie told the rescuing deputy is that her father shielded her from the boulders and pushed her out of the way.

BRIAN YATES, PRINCIPAL: Yes. It doesn't surprise me one bit. Dwayne, he would have been that for you. And not knowing you. If you'd have just been close enough to him and he saw that coming, he would have done the same thing for you.


LAH: And that hiking trail is closed now. The sheriff's department is going to be asking the forest service that it remain closed permanently.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Boy, oh, boy. Kyung, thank you for bringing us this story. But we wanted to know what happened and how that girl got saved, but just horrible for that family.

BOLDUAN: Unbelievable.

CUOMO: Oh, boy.

All right, so let's get to Michael now because there's a lot of other news. We have five things that you need to know for your new day.

What are they?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Well, you know what number one is, that government shutdown well past 32 hours now. A handful of Republicans seem ready to compromise, but piecemeal bills couldn't pass the House. The rhetoric is ramping up and 800,000 federal workers could be without pay for some time.

Obamacare enrollment off to a bumpy start. Server errors and technical glitches frustrating many of the 7.5 million people who visited the site when it rolled out yesterday.

It was all a hoax. At number three, a federal law enforcement source telling CNN a suspicious bag found at the Jacksonville Airport did not hold explosives. A person is now under arrest and may be charged.

The director of the NSA and the director of national intelligence in the hot seat. They'll testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about whether intelligence gathering has infringed on privacy and civil liberties.

And at number five, another day of meetings for the pope's gatherings of cardinals. They're discussing reform to the church -- catholic church. The pope says he doesn't want a Vatican-centric church.

We always update those five things to know. So be sure to go to for the very latest.

Chris Cuomo (ph).

CUOMO: They're acting like kids, those people down in Congress. That's what we keep hearing, right?

BOLDUAN: Uh-huh.

CUOMO: Are they? Fair play. Doing the right thing. Getting along. All lessons we're taught as children seemingly forgotten by the adults in this showdown mess. So, are they really being like kids? We decided to go ask some kids if they knew about the shutdown, what they would do in this situation. You're looking at a group of fourth graders from the Immaculate Conception School in Queens, New York. Turns out they've got a message for Congress we could all learn from.


CUOMO: Karl, what do you know about the shutdown?

KARL HODGE, IMMACULATE CONCEPTION ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: They're going to shut down the government because of some - some of the government people.

CUOMO: When I say shut down the government, what does that mean?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like the government is going to stop for a while.

CUOMO: Does that sound scary?


CUOMO: Now the big things stay. People who protect us, they stay. But a lot of people who work for the government wind up not getting paid until they reopen the government. How does that sound?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That sounds horrible.

CUOMO: Jocelyn, let me ask you something. When you were being taught how to work with somebody else in a situation, what are you taught? What are you supposed to do?

JOCELYN HARRIS, IMMACULATE CONCEPTION ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: You're supposed to share the things that you do and you're supposed to agree and compromise when you have different agreements.

CUOMO: So in Congress, they didn't do it. They said, you want to do one thing, I want to do another, we can't agree, so let's stop the government and not pay anybody and not do lots of things that we're supposed to do. Who looks that solution? Oh, double thumbs down - double thumbs down all over the back row.

Oh, I forgot to mention something. The members of Congress, when the government is shut down, and they send people home to their families with no pay, they still get paid.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They might like do another job?

CUOMO: No, no, they're not doing any job, but they still get paid.

Jocelyn, two thumbs down. Does that sound right?

HARRIS: No, because if one person gets paid and the other person doesn't, that's not fair to the people that don't get paid.

CUOMO: What should I do with the money if I do get paid? Let's say the law says I get paid. What should I do with my money, Prabhigt?

PRABHIGT KAUR, IMMACULATE CONCEPTION ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: I think like I could like divide it into half and give it to everybody.

CUOMO: Divide it into half and give it to everybody.

HODGE: You get money for being in politics?

CUOMO: I know. They pay you to go down there and have all this fun. Who knew?

HODGE: Can I run right now?

CUOMO: How old are you?

HODGE: Nine.

CUOMO: If it's available, if I can swing it, would you want to run? And what would be want to do? What would be your platform. Why do we vote for Karl?

HODGE: Because I'll make the world better.

CUOMO: Oh, that's strong. You're all congressmen, members right now. OK? Nicole and Jocelyn, while friends up until this day, not disagree. They do not like what to do. How do we solve it? Jonathan, Prabhigt does not like your ideas. She thinks they're dumb. And, in fact, you're dumb, too, for having those ideas.

JONATHAN ST. URBAIN, IMMACULATE CONCEPTION ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: Well, we could compromise, like Jocelyn said, and we could agree somehow.

CUOMO: Karl, what do you do if you're president and Congress won't compromise?

HODGE: I would tell them -- I'll tell them get along just not because people are losing - are going to be losing their jobs.

CUOMO: What's the president supposed to tell Congress? Nicole?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president's supposed to tell Congress that you better cut it out and get back to what you're supposed to do.

CUOMO: And what if they say, no? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then the president fires them.

CUOMO: He can't. Only the voters can. He's not a king. Who's going to fix it? Nicole, how do we fix it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hmm, we could you fix this by -- if the government's shut down then -- hmm - actually, that's a really hard one.

CUOMO: Right. How do we settle things that we don't agree on, Jocelyn?

HARRIS: You should do the right thing, not the wrong thing. You should at least give the effort to agree with somebody instead of acting like a bunch of babies. You should act like adults, because you are, and agree with people.

CUOMO: Nine years old. Why is this - why is this so easy for to you figure out? Yes?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because - because we're kids and sometimes kids, we have smart ideas than grownups.



BOLDUAN: I love them.

PEREIRA: I'm putting together - I think we've got Nicole as the chief strategist, Jocelyn the press secretary and Prabhigt, I'm trying to figure out her -- she's very, very, very smart.

CUOMO: Oh, yes.

PEREIRA: All of these kids got an idea of what's going on.

BOLDUAN: A better idea than (INAUDIBLE).

CUOMO: They were all looking at me like I was so dumb, which is not unusual for adults - for children or adults.

BOLDUAN: Exactly.

PEREIRA: Again (ph).

CUOMO: But they were - they were like, I don't understand why you don't get how wrong what this is that's going down there -

BOLDUAN: I know.

CUOMO: And how this - it doesn't make sense, even to them, but that's because they're playing by a different set of rules.

BOLDUAN: Well, and it just shows the pure insanity of the situation rather - you know, we cover it day-to-day but when you kind of get -- take a step back and you listen to these pure and honest voices, the insanity of the situation, there is plenty of time to fight about things that deserve to be fought about, and there's plenty of time before the midterms, just get over this.


PEREIRA: Send a tape to D.C. Do it. Send a tape.

CUOMO: Wait until - wait until you hear what they said about the debt ceiling.


CUOMO: I'm saving that.

BOLDUAN: Debt what?

CUOMO: Saving that. They knew.

BOLDUAN: If they can explain it to us, we'd all be better off.

CUOMO: They were like, the quantitative easing - the easing is a real problem. No. So the kitty cabinet, we brought them to you. What do you think? Tweet us with the hash tag newday and let us know what you think.

BOLDUAN: Please do.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, more than 100 guests gathering to celebrate a wedding that could be derailed by, of course, the government shutdown. We're going to talk to a couple whose special day is up in the air as they await an end to that shutdown.

CUOMO: Plus, a couple of would-be robbers foiled by a foil. It's worthy of John Berman's NEW DAY award of the day award award award.


PEREIRA: What a perfect song for this. Welcome back to NEW DAY.

Imagine the wedding of your dreams, completely ruined because of Congress. Well it's exactly what happened to one young couple their wedding was set to take place this weekend at the Jefferson Memorial, the site of their first date back in 2009. But thanks to the government shutdown the Memorial is now off limits and they have to scramble to make new plans.

Mike and Mailien join us from Washington this morning. There is the beautiful couple you look so stress-free. I imagine you would both be having bridezilla and groomzilla moments.

MIKE CASSESSO, WEDDING AT MONUMENT SATURDAY IN JEOPARDY: It's really early so it's just kind of hard to be stressed when you're a little tired.

PEREIRA: Ok first of all tell us how you found out that this -- this government shutdown was essentially ruining your wedding. MAILIEN LE, WEDDING AT MONUMENT SATURDAY IN JEOPARDY: Monday morning I got an e-mail from the National Park Service essentially saying that because -- if the government were to shut down any -- any permits -- any permitted activity on the national mall or any of the grounds were going to become invalidated and we would not be permitted to hold our event.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Is there a fix, anybody that you can negotiate with to make it happen?

LE: I mean, you know, if Harry Reid and John Boehner want to take a meeting with us.

BOLDUAN: We'll mention it the next time we talk to them.

CUOMO: I was thinking more along the line of a few President Jacksons.

LE: If only it were that easy.

CASSESSO: Well my first idea was to jump the fence and just do it anyway but Mailien can't jump a fence in a wedding dress and I don't want to be arrested on my wedding day. So that's sad.

PEREIRA: Oh very sad.

BOLDUAN: It could be a good omen though. I mean that you know rain on a wedding day is a good omen so maybe having a government shutdown in your wedding day is a good omen. So what are the -- what's the alternative plan now?

LE: Well our reception venue is a local hotel Sonoma and they have graciously offered to help set up the restaurant so that we can have our ceremony there. They have this wonderful upstairs area that we're holding our reception in, so they're just going to have the ceremony there for us and then sort of quickly flip it into a reception.

PEREIRA: Now you two seem pretty calm right now. Mike I understand that you said Mailien has actually been a fairly calm bride in the planning stages of this whole wedding. Has she been calm since Monday after receiving this news? Be honest.

CASSESSO: I mean has she been agitated and a little bit angry about the situation, yes. But has she been calm and you know, task-oriented in getting this fixed, absolutely.

PEREIRA: Good for her.

BOLDUAN: Good answer. You're going to have a happy life.

CUOMO: You've learned already.

LE: I've trained him well. I've trained him well.

CUOMO: Unusually diplomatic for an Italian husband. Let's talk about meaning here, right because marriage is all about meaning. Now you have the meaning of why this is happening. You know we all think that the shutdown is just a word, and we're just playing with numbers in the media, nobody is really affected.

What has this opened your eyes to in terms of the significance of what's going on in D.C. right now?

LE: Well, you know, I think that -- I mean we both -- we've talked about this a lot and you know we both thought about a lot of our friends are getting furloughed. There's a lot of -- people often you know Mike said people often think of the nameless, Washington bureaucrat who is getting furloughed and nobody really thinks about you know the average person who gets affected by a government shutdown.

CASSESSO: Yes and that's not to say that, you know, there are so many people who are feeling more pain than us, they aren't getting their paychecks who are seeing some type of service disrupted and you know our -- our disruption is on a scale of one to ten like a one on that scale.

But you know, there are so many unintended and unforeseen consequences of something like a government shutdown, we just wanted to get the word out that, hey, something as crazy as a wedding can be interrupted due to people not being able to compromise and come to a -- come to a decision how to fund a government.

PEREIRA: Well we're glad you did and it's interesting that you chose the Jefferson Memorial because it was the site of your first date, a true D.C. couple trying to have a D.C. wedding. You'll still have a D.C. wedding but in a different way. We understand there was something like several dozen more people that were trying to get married just in this month alone so you are not alone, if that provides any comfort to the two of you.

CASSESSO: Yes, I think there were about 40 couples who are getting married on the National Mall in October who are now not going to be able to.

LE: Right.

PEREIRA: Well listen we know the two of you will make the best of a bad situation. It sounds like all the family and friends are already flying into town. Thanks for sharing your story with us here on NEW DAY, Mike and Mailien, we wish you many, many years of happiness together.

LE: Thank you.

CASSESSO: Thank you so much.

And call your Congressman and call your Senator and tell them to fund the government.

BOLDUAN: There's your message, I was waiting for it. Thanks you guys.

LE: Thank you.

CASSESSO: Thank you so much.

PEREIRA: All right coming up next on NEW DAY, foiled by a sword, how a fencing instructor stopped a robber. Oh yes it's our Award of the day coming up with Berman.

CUOMO: I love this guy.


CUOMO: Say it DC, it's that time of the morning JB is here to give us his NEW DAY "Award of the day award."

JOHN BERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All right. So the pen might be mightier than the sword but the sword is mightier than a couple of jerks. Franco Scaramuzza is a fencing teacher in Nashville. After class last week he happened across two men trying to rob a purse in a parking lot. It was a good thing he had his sword or his epee with him.


FRANCO SCARAMUZZA, FENCING TEACHER: I charged towards them holding my epee up high yelling at them, I kept yelled through the entire thing. They completely panicked, dropped everything they stole and really took off.


BERMAN: And we think that dramatic video was a re-enactment from our affiliate. We do not have the actual video but in my head the scene went down something like this from "Star Trek". Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What kind of (inaudible) do you have?



BERMAN: Oh yes there you can see it right there the fencing teacher taking down the two robbers in the parking lot. The great thing is after this battle happened in the parking lot and on top of that spaceship the two robbers they were apprehended by police.

So this fencing teacher Franco Scaramuzza is not just a hero he is our award winner today. He wins the "It must have been the pants award." Let's take a look at it. It wasn't just the epee that's menacing.

BOLDUAN: It was the pants.

PEREIRA: What are they called in fencing world?

BERMAN: Slacks, a nice pair of slacks. No, I have no idea. Flat front slacks and they were scary.

BOLDUAN: And good for you. Good on you.

CUOMO: The last name Scaramuzza, is Italian.

BOLDUAN: Italian obviously.

Silence -- we'll be back right after this.


CUOMO: It is all right. It's over for us, of course. Thank you for watching us here on NEW DAY and we give it to Carol Costello.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: I got it. Thanks, guys, have a great day.

NEWSROOM starts now.

Happening now in the NEWSROOM -- impasse and anger.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You guys are worthless in my opinion, all of you. Worthless you don't run this country.


COSTELLO: Shutdown breakdown.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: This is a waste of time. It's not going anyplace.


COSTELLO: America fed up from being put down.


JAY LENO, TALK SHOW HOST: How many are worried about the government shutdown? How many more are worried about it starting back up.

Yes that's scary stuff.


COSTELLO: And breaking this morning will a new Republican strategy open the government back up?