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Train Derails in Bronx; Obamacare Website Fixed?; APGFK Poll Finds Americans' Trust Has Decreased; The NTSB Investigating Deadly Trainwreck in New York; Interview with Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Aired December 2, 2013 - 07:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: What else happened while you were sleeping.

Vice President Joe Biden is on a mission to ease tensions in East Asia. He lands today in Tokyo and will meet with leaders of Japan, China, and South Korea this week. The three nations are at a standoff over new flight restrictions that China declared unilaterally. The disputed airspace is over a chain of islands that both China and Japan claim.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sitting down with Pope Francis at the Vatican this morning. The pair is expected to discuss peace talks with the Palestinians, the recent deal on Iran's nuclear program and other security threats Jerusalem faces in that volatile Middle Eastern region. This is the prime minister's first meeting with Pope Francis who is scheduled to visit Israel in May.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Islet Rosary blamed for a series of crashes in central and western Massachusetts Sunday, including this massive 65 vehicle pileup that includes at least three tractor trailers. The crash sent dozens of people to area hospitals. Police say at least two of those injuries were serious.

CUOMO: Now to our top story. You are looking live at the Bronx where those derailed commuter train cars are finally being righted. And we're learning more about the terrifying moment it all happened. We're also learning the names and the stories of those who lost their lives Sunday. Four people were killed in the crash, a total of 67 people hurt, 11 critically injured.

We have Alexandra Field in the Bronx with the very latest. Alexandra?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, a key part of the investigation is underway right now right behind me. Crews are lifting those derailed cars back on the tracks. It's part of the NTSB's effort to reconstruct the accident.


FIELD: Overnight the names of all four passengers killed by the Metro North Commuter train crash Sunday were released. MTA police identified 54-year-old Donna Smith.

KATHY CERONE, NEXT DOOR NEIGHBOR: Donna was a wonderful person. She was kind, neighborly, friendly.

FIELD: And 35-year-old Ahn Kisook, 59-year-old James Ferrari, and this man, 58-year-old father of four James Lovell.

JONATHAN KRUK, NEIGHBOR: I will remember him as having dignity and determination and being a wonderful father.

FIELD: Three of them ejected from the train, its cars strewn across the tracks in the Bronx.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It came to like a halt. There were just people screaming.

FIELD: Early Sunday, a throng rescue worker scoured the grizzly scene, one rail car nearly plunging into the river where divers check for bodies underwater.

ANGEE GUIVESUS, INJURED PASSENGER: I can see some people flying from the left side to the right side, people from the back. It's crazy.

FIELD: At 7:20 a.m., the commuter train carrying 150 passengers on its way to grand central station from Poughkeepsie approached an extremely sharp curve that required a speed limit of 30 miles per hour along the Harlem River, compared to the straightaway prior requiring a speed limit of 70 miles per hour.

ANDREW CUOMO, GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK: The curve has been here for many, many years, right, and trains take the curve. But it can't just be the curve.

FIELD: The train conductor said he tried to apply the brakes, but says they didn't work as all seven cars derailed barreling off the tracks.

AMANDA SWANSON, PASSENGER: By the time I looked up, it was completely going off its track and there was the rubble from under the tracks flying at my face.

FIELD: Only 1,700 feet away from a previous July derailment. That's where ten garbage freight cars flipped on their sides.

EARL WEENER, NTSB: We don't know what the train's speed was. We will learn that from the vehicle event recorders.

FIELD: This is the second passenger derailment in six months for Metro North. In May an eastbound train derailed in Bridgeport, Connecticut. It was hit by a westbound train, 76 people injured. Sunday's crash eerily similar to the train that derailed in Northwestern Spain, killing 79 passengers. In that crash the train was approaching a sharp turn. Security video showed the shocking moment the train going more than twice the speed limit hurdled off the tracks. Officials are looking into what role, if any, speed played in the Bronx accident.

(END VIDEOTAPE) FIELD: You can see one derailed cars back on the tracks already this morning. Federal investigators expect to be out here for the next seven to 10 days. Today they will download information collected by the train's data recorder. They will also look for any images that may have been recorded around the time of the crash.

BOLDUAN: Alexandra, thank you so much for that.

We are hearing amazing stories of people who lived through the derailment. This was the train car Amanda Swanson rode in. Amazingly, she walked away without serious injury. And she is joining us here in studio this morning. Amanda, thank you so much for coming in. You were watching Alexandra's piece, you looked horrified. This was the first time you seen some of these images.

AMANDA SWANSON, TRAN CRASH SURVIVOR: I stayed in the city last night at my cousins, and we just didn't have access to any television. So the only news has been just on the Internet. So seeing some like actual live footage now is kind of horrific, it's a little unsettling.

BOLDUAN: Does it seem even real?

SWANSON: For me, no. I mean, clearly, I barely have scrapes and bruises. I'm sore, but I mean I came out of this more unscathed than some car accidents than I have been in. Just hearing about the other the injuries, walking past if people on the stretchers, it was just, I have no idea why or how I am sitting here talking to you the way I am right now. It's insane.

BOLDUAN: Especially when you see the video. It's amazing even to have you here in studio. Take me back to that moment. You were on the train, coming into the city for work.

SWANSON: I was coming into work a Sunday brunch at my restaurant in mid-town. And I was dozing off another 40 minutes before I started my day. And as I, as the train started to derail, I just noticed that my body was as a serious incline and that woke me up. It wasn't noise. I had headphones on. I had music playing. Then once I opened my eyes I became aware of the screeching metal, and I realized, this is a train crash and this is happening right now.

BOLDUAN: Having that thought as it happened?

SWANSON: It was like in slow motion. It was very different than a car accident, it was very, very different.

I had my phone in my hand and I realized it, and I immediately, I'm going to need this. And I grabbed my purse -- I'm going to need this, too. And even just from what I've read today, the train I apparently went to the left and then to the right and then it flipped, so I wound up going kind up one side and then rode into where I was technically on the ceiling. And when it landed, I fell to the side where the windows had been smashed out to the ground. All of those windows had broken through, gravel and glass and big rocks on the tracks were flying into the windows. I managed to put my bag in front of my face. I don't have any cuts. And then once I stood up, I immediately I still have my phone, it's shattered. But it works. I dialed 911.

BOLDUAN: When it finally comes to its resting place, what are you seeing, smelling, hearing?

SWANSON: That photo that I took, that just without the dust settled. I couldn't see anything, it was just smoke. I realized the train was on its side, all, everything was filthy, we were filthy. And I stood up. I took the picture after I called police. I'm not quite that, you know. But I called 911 and stayed online with the dispatcher, so I was not tuned out but definitely focusing on that. And it wasn't until they kind of told me to remain calm and were holding that I started listening around and seeing people wobbling about. You could hear moaning, you could hear other people assisting passengers, and I just stayed on the lean until I heard silence.

BOLDUAN: You finally get out of the train, maybe when you get further from the scene, you can see what it looks like, could you believe this has just happened to you and you walked away?

SWANSON: When the FDNY got us out of the emergency doors outside the back of the train, we had to walk along the thicket along the edge of the Hudson. And when we were coming up and collecting in groups, and that was when we saw all the people on board, the people who were bleeding severely. And I just kind of was like, I'm just dirty.

BOLDUAN: How is it possible? You are talking four people were killed, dozens of people injured, 11 people critically injured. Do you have any explanation why you made it out so well?

SWANSON: When I heard the initial reports, I was under the impression that I was in one of the cars that people were ejected from because the only status they said is the way it fell and mine fell the same way. I find out later I was not in that car. So I don't want to misrepresent what happened to me.

But when it happened, I was just very aware. I told my mom this morning on the phone that the only thing I was thinking was I have to stay alive. I have to call them when this is over. So I made a conscious effort to keep my neck straight, keep my head back, don't tense up, go with the flow. It was weird to be able to be that aware and hit things the way you are going to hit them, protect your neck and head, and then get up and call 911.

BOLDUAN: To be so aware in that moment is amazing.

SWANSON: It's unbelievable.

BOLDUAN: I'm sure you have an investigation that's going on right now. You have a lot of questions yourself. What do you want to know?

SWANSON: I definitely want to know how and why this happened, of course. Whether or not it was human error --

BOLDUAN: Did you get a sense that the train was going too fast?

SWANSON: Like I said, I was nodding off. So I can't really speak to that. I did hear other passengers talk amongst themselves afterwards once we were safely outside talking to local news, saying that they felt the train was going too fast, just things like that. But I'm not going to, I don't want to put one human or a group of humans under the bus for something like this when I have no information. I'm a 26- year-old waitress.

I definitely want to know that at least after the fact that all protocols were followed through with, that everything that could be done since did, because obviously there was an error, something went wrought. I hope everybody that needed the help bought the help that they need.

BOLDUAN: I am sure -- know that you are still dealing with a lot today even seeing this video for the first time, and I'm sure dealing with a little bit of shock that everything is OK. We are so glad you could be here. Great to meet you.

SWANSON: Thanks.

BOLDUAN: In less than 30 minutes, we will talk more about the investigation, where things stand and what more we can learn with New York's governor Andrew Cuomo. That's ahead.

CUOMO: All right, Kate, let's go over to Indra Petersons. You never know the difference between people who walk away and people who don't.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely. We definitely have mild conditions out here today, and that one piece of good news. We are going to have some big storms move across the country that could impact the country as we go throughout the week. We will talk about temperatures in New York, 43, D.C. coming in at about 42.

Out towards the pacific northwest we see a big storm making its way across the country. A little wave of energy is kicking through the area. There is some light rain. The upside of that, the temperatures are going up. Notice about 77 degrees in New Orleans by the middle of the week, also looking for above normal temperatures in through Atlanta. All this makes its way up to the north as that low contracts along the east coast.

Here's the piece of god news, it stays off shore, it's staying dry, temperatures should stay above normal for the next several days. Again, take a look at those temperatures, still on the chilly side, seasonal this time of year. Out of the pacific northwest. Here's that big snow system we were talking about, one to two feet of snow for Idaho and Montana, even in through Wyoming as the sky starts to spread to the east. You are not only talking about rain and snow as it starts to impact the opportunity by the second half of the week or the eastern half of the country. The other story will be these cold temperatures start diving down again. This is an arctic blast here. Take a look at Denver, 36 degrees, Dallas about 78 degrees. I want to drop you down by Wednesday, networks you see 34 degrees below normal in Denver. Dallas is down to 66. That cold air, we start to get a good 20 to 30 degrees below normal.

BOLDUAN: All right, Indra, thanks so much for that update. CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY, the White House says the Obamacare website is fixed. How about a second opinion? Dr. Sanjay Gupta is paying the site a house call, and he is going to let us know how healthy it really is. And he will tell you about a concern he has that no one is talking about.

BOLDUAN: Also ahead, a woman survives a harrowing plane crash and finds the strength to hike through wilderness to get help. Her incredible story is coming up.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY. The White House says the Obamacare website is now running better than ever after a tech team scrambled to meet a self-imposed deadline to fix the site over the weekend -- by this weekend. But is that really the case? What does it all mean? Chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is at the CNN Center and has been looking into this.

So Sanjay, they say it is working. They say it is night and day, but how discuss it look for you?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, there is still a little hiccup. We've been, obviously, trying it ourselves, and first time we tried it, we got an error message. But it did refresh pretty quickly, a lot different than when we tried this so many times back at the beginning of October.

As you say, the White House is pretty bullish on this. They say it seems to be working well, much better than a couple months ago. It can handle a lot more users, for example, 50,000 users at a time. Before, it seemed to only be a few hundred. And it seems to be working a lot faster as well.

One issue, though, and this is an important one, and that ultimately a sign up on this website and then that information goes to insurance companies, and those insurance companies take it and that's how you basically get your health care insurance.

There seems to be some problems with the information actually getting to those insurance companies. Sometimes they're getting duplicate copies of the application. Sometimes they're not getting it at all. The situation, obviously, you want to avoid is that people show up in January at the hospital thinking they have health care insurance and they don't. So we're going to keep tabs on that as well, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yeah, you know, the administration will say this law is much more than just a website. But what is the significance of this benchmark, do you think?

GUPTA: Well, you know, part of it is just math. Part of it is they got to hit certain numbers, they say, in order for this whole system to work. You can take a look at the map of the country and look at the numbers now sort of in terms of, you have the Obamacare sites. You have states that are doing it themselves. And then you have the states. Take a look. I mean, they want to hit 7 million in total by the end of March. Those are the numbers sort of over the last several weeks here, so closer to 200,000. People do tend to sign up for these things late. You know, it's just psychology, Kate, you know, you wait until the last minute to do things. So the numbers could go up significantly over the next few months and especially in March.

But obviously, 200,000 is nowhere close to the 7 million that they hope to have. And also there's this anxiety of people who have had their policies canceled and who are now trying to get to the site to find out what the new premium will be, what the new plan will be, who have had trouble getting on. And that's obviously a concern for them in particular.

BOLUAN: But Sanjay, I have to ask you about this opinion piece that you wrote released this morning. It raises a very provocative question. There has been an understandable focus on the website, on and the problems it's been having. But you kind of raised this question. Does health insurance make us healthier? Maybe we are looking at the wrong measuring stick in the broader context of getting the country to a place where we're all healthy Americans. What do you think?

GUPTA: Yeah, you know, look, I think that everyone's been focused on this horse race almost about the website and how many people sign up. Look, I think it's really important for people to have health care insurance for a variety of reasons.

But as a doctor -- and I think, you know, most people sort of think, what is the real goal here? We look back on this 100 years from now, what was it that we are trying to achieve? And for me, it's always been this idea that could we become a healthier America? And there's very little evidence to say that insurance or insurance alone will get us anywhere close to that.

There was a fascinating study that I wrote about in the op-ed, Kate. It was in Oregon. And basically, it had to do with Medicaid expansion. Some people got Medicaid. And some did not based on this lottery expansion.

But the whole point was that you had an opportunity to compare people who now had insurance to people who did not have insurance but were very similar people. And what they found is that people who had insurance, they did go to the doctor more often. They did get more care. But there was very little evidence that they were any healthier.

And the point is that, you know, the idea becoming healthier really resides within us. Insurance is not going to do this by any means. We cannot become the country we want to be unless we start having this personal responsibility. We can't just count on the health care system to constantly pull people out of the fire, and instead of playing defense on this, we have to think how we optimize our own selves. And that is a message I think has gotten lost in some of this. BOLDUAN: I think you're absolutely right. I mean, you need -- and I want everyone to go to so you can read Sanjay's full opinion piece. Because it's really interesting and he's not making the case -- you're not making the case that insurance doesn't matter at all. But more -- there needs to be more of a focus on personal responsibility and people taking accountability for yourself. And you use yourself as an example. So I want everyone to go to the website and read more about it.

GUPTAY: Yeah, absolutely. And I'll just give you one quick analogy. And I did this article on marriage. You will appreciate this, Kate, a few years ago. And I was trying to figure out -- the question was, does marriage actually make you healthier? And I remember interviewing all these people. And one of the interviewees I talked to said marriage is good for your health as long as it is a good marriage.

That sounds like a very simplistic statement. But there is a lot in that. Insurance is good for America, but insurance alone won't make us a healthier America. And I think that's sort of the point. And you know, we have to be really serious about this if we want to be healthier, if we want to lower costs, and we want to become the country we envisioned ourselves to be.

BOLDUAN: You can read much more of this on

Thank you, Sanjay. It's great to see you.

GUPTA: You too, Kate. You got it.

BOLDUAN: Of course.

CUOMO: Health care very much like marriage, having the same fight every 15 minutes.


BOLDUAN: Yes, that's true, honey.

CUOMO: Isn't that true?

I won't fight with you now.

PEREIRA: We know a that a marriage -- a TV marriage is based on trust.

So that takes me -- nice little segue.

CUOMO: Oh, nice. Well done.

BOLDUAN: There we go!

PEREIRA: We will show you an interesting survey. Do you trust your fellow man? If you said no, you are not alone. Check this out. This is a new poll, APGFK poll finds that just under one-third -- look at the smallness of that piece of pie. A third of Americans believe that most people can be trusted -- 40 years ago, 1973, when the question was first asked, it was about 50-50.

So who do you trust most? Only about half of Americans trust medical professionals, you know the folks that can see your medical records. And this is what I found really surprising. Only about the same amount of you are trusting the people that are preparing your food at restaurants and given how much food we eat out, it means there is not a lot of trust going on. In terms of every day life, you don't trust those folks that are swiping your credit card. That is interesting.

And this is the one that I think we should pay attention to: we only trust 38 percent of people we share photos with on social media -- 38 percent. Guys, this is interesting to me. If we're posting it, yet we don't trust the people we are sharing it with?

CUOMO: Then why are you posting it?

PEREIRA: That's what I'm saying.

CUOMO: Don't post it.

PERERIA: So the other thing I found interesting is they say there are a few people that are still trusters. And I want - I'm curious about the two of you.

BOLDUAN: Who is a truster?

PERERIA: It's somebody who -- I think I am a truster. For example, you know the honor system, if you go to a farmer's market out in the area in the farm land, and you see some farmers you like. I'm a truster as well. I think.

BOLDUAN: I think there is a difference between trust and honesty. You can be an honest and you don't have to trust everybody, though.

PERIERA: That's true.

You don't think there is a difference?

CUOMO: I'll be honest. I'll be counterintuitive. I choose to trust. I worry about the cynicism of these moves and inclinations. And I think that the -- it was good to do this. I think we are seeing a lot more of it, that it's easier not to trust. It's easier to be negative. It's easier to have these hostilities.

BOLDUAN: There are more examples of not trusting than trusting.

PEREIRA: Well, the thing is, that's interesting about distrust. Think about it. It breeds corruption, right? And look at all the ills in our society. It breeds that kind of thing.

CUOMO: Yeah, and you can be trusting and smart. You know, people often see that --


BOLDUAN: That's called trust but verify. CUOMO: That's exactly right. That's exactly right.

PERERIA: Interesting poll. We thought we'd share it.

CUOMO: Tweet us. Hashtag new day. What do you think? What do you think about trust? You think it should be there? And if so, whom do you trust?

We'll take a quick break. Coming up on NEW DAY, New York's governor is on the ground in the Bronx. We will get the latest on the recovery there from him as well as the latest on why this happened and whether it was avoidable.

BOLDUAN: And check your calendar because it is Cyber Monday. But before you go online today, be warned. Some websites may go after you to the tune of thousands of dollars if you aren't satisfied and you feel the need to speak your mind.

CUOMO: There goes trust out the window.

BOLDUAN: Exactly.

CUOMO: Thank you very much.


C. CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY. You are looking live at the scene of that deadly train derail that left four dead and dozens injured in the Bronx Sunday. The NTSB is now investigating exactly why the metro north train jumped the tracks.

We have New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. He toured the site Sunday and has pledged the state's full support to the NSB (sic). He is joining us now.

Governor, thank you for joining us.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO, NY-(D): Good morning. Good to be with you.

C. CUOMO: So behind you, I see that a train is being on the tracks. Are you satisfied with the progress and the recovery?

A. CUOMO: We brought in a crane last night that started to put the trains back on the track. The locomotive has been put back on, which is the heaviest piece of equipment. Now they're putting on cars. The NTSB has started their investigation. We are very much awaiting that. We want to find out what the specific cause of the accident was to see if there is anything we can learn from it to make sure a tragedy like this doesn't happen again.

C.CUOMO: Now, obviously, to those who don't know, we're family. So we have been talking about this a lot. Yesterday you hurried down to the scene. There was talk immediately, 'Well, maybe it was the curve. Maybe it's an unsafe condition'. You have taken a little bit of different line on that. What do you think the questions are to figure out why this happened? A. CUOMO: Well, they -- Chris, they said there were three options. Number one, that it was a problem with the track; number two, equipment error, this rumor that the brakes on the train didn't work; or number three is just an operator error.

This is at the point of it on the track, there's a turn. It's a sharp turn, but it's not just about the turn. The turn has been here for decades. Trains negotiate the turn all day long. So it's not about the turn. Something else had to happen. And we want to find out what it is.

Again, if there's a lesson to learn from it, we will.