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10,000 Stranded School Kids Return Home; Atlanta Mayor Defends Storm Preps; Atlanta Baby Born while Stuck in Traffic; Backstage at the Grand Ole Opry; Bush: 2016 Decision to Come Later This Year; Conflicting Reports on Death of Asiana Passenger>

Aired January 30, 2014 - 10:30   ET



CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning everyone. Thanks for joining me. I'm Carol Costello this morning.

The Mason-Dixon Line is covered in ice and etched in misery. In Atlanta, this is the challenge of the hour. Most of those cars you see littering interstate like a zombie apocalypse, they are abandoned and of course the big obstacle in getting the area up and running again.

Starting this hour, the National Guard and state agencies are shuttling those drivers back to their cars. The impact stretches far across the south though. In Alabama, some 10,000 school kids are waking up in their own beds this morning. They spent Tuesday night camping out at school. About 1,600 other kids were stranded overnight.

Alabama's Governor blamed the weather forecast.


GOV. ROBERT BENTLEY (R) ALABAMA: No one knew exactly where the line of freezing rain and snow would take place. Unfortunately the predictions were not exactly what we thought they would be. No one has any control over that except the lord.


COSTELLO: The Governor of Georgia Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed are of course taking heat for allowing a few inches of snow to paralyze one of the nation's largest cities. This editorial cartoon of the two politicians blissfully making snow angels as the city ground to a halt is in today's Atlanta General Constitution. This morning on the "Today" show, Mayor Reed pushed back against claims he didn't respond quick enough.


KASIM REED, MAYOR OF ATLANTA: In fact within 24 hours the roads in the city of Atlanta were more than 80 percent passable. So I just reviewed your report. And it focused almost exclusive on our city's highways which the city does not have jurisdiction for. And most of those simply were not in the city of Atlanta. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: OK. So what about the Governor of Georgia? Well for the record we have repeatedly asked Governor Nathan Deal to join us in the discussion of the states handling. He has declined our requests. But he did agree to an interview from the comfort and safety of Fox News.

Even when so many were stranded in gridlock and focusing on their own misery, there's a little room for joy. A couple driving to the hospital ready to give birth to their third child realized they were not going to make it in the snow jammed traffic.


AMY ANDERSON, GAVE BIRTH DURING SNOW STORM: It was just real clear that we were going and my husband was driving on the side. And everyone is beeping at us because they're all in the gridlock. We came to a spot that we couldn't get through at all. And so that's when I told him, we're going to have to this baby in the car.


COSTELLO: So they did. They had their baby right in the front seat with a little help from this man, Officer Timothy Sheffield of Sandy Springs who joins me now. Good morning.


COSTELLO: I love this story. So you were out trying to help. You were actually responding to an accident and you came upon this car. And what happened?

SHEFFIELD: Yes I was just on the way to the accident. And I was checking on stranded motorists as I went along. And I saw this SUV. Big Suburban pulled over on the side. So I got out and asked the driver, I said are you stuck, broke down? And he said no, real calm, we're having a baby.

So I was like oh, OK. So I didn't know, I just thought maybe they were having contractions. And when I walked up to the front I could tell that the baby was coming right then. So --

COSTELLO: You saw the baby's head right?

SHEFFIELD: I did. Yes I could see the baby's head. And he was on the phone with our staff on 911. And I could hear her. She was doing an amazing job and keeping him calm. So I was like all right --

COSTELLO: She was keeping him calm?

SHEFFIELD: Yes I mean, you know, that's -- she was kind of telling him what to do. So I went back and got the first aid kit and came back up to the car. And you know the baby popped out.

COSTELLO: At one point he tried to pull the baby out. You said -- SHEFFIELD: Once the head has popped out, once the baby's head popped out, I could hear because he was -- he was helping. He had the phone in his hand still talking to 911. And when the baby's head had popped out he grabbed the head and started to pull it. And I was like no, no, no don't pull. And the mother, a champ, you know, she just pushed one more time and the baby came out.

And so, I looked down because the baby wasn't crying at first. Then it started to cry and then it quit. And I checked the air way to just clear the mouth. And you could hear the 911 operator on the same -- we kind of like working as a team said go ahead and clear the mouth. So I went back -- to go back to my car to get like a blanket or something my jacket. And at that time I saw the fire department and pulled up. So they did an amazing job. They couldn't have gotten there any quicker.

COSTELLO: So the other amazing thing, there were two other kids sitting in the back seat?

SHEFFIELD: There was and that's what -- you know I talked to my wife. They were -- we were looking the kids were just looking down and just real calm, very well behaved. You know that family is amazing. They were a well-organized team I tell you.

COSTELLO: You're right. They were either like very calm and collected or they're traumatized. I don't know exactly.

SHEFFIELD: Yes, yes, exactly.

COSTELLO: And I know the baby is a girl. So they can't name the baby after you.

SHEFFIELD: No that's a good thing. It was a beautiful little girl.

COSTELLO: You've been through this sort of scenario a couple of other times. So you're like a -- you're almost a nurse practitioner now.

SHEFFIELD: You know I guess -- I guess sometimes I get to be at the right place at the right time to see amazing things. So it's good.

COSTELLO: So I've been asking everyone this question who comes on our air. And it's sort of a sensitive question. But I'm going to ask you. And you can answer it or don't, feel free. But who do you think was to blame for the huge mess in the Atlanta area yesterday?

SHEFFIELD: You know, that's -- you know everybody tries to place the blame. Atlanta is just a huge city. I think with the traffic and everybody is trying to leave at one time, it just makes it hard to do your work. But as far as pointing finger, I couldn't. I was just glad to be where I was in Sandy Springs because they do an awesome job. And everybody worked great together.

COSTELLO: Well you certainly did an awesome job. And thank you for coming in and sharing your story. It was great. Thanks so much.

SHEFFIELD: Thank you. COSTELLO: Coming up in the NEWSROOM.

The streets of Atlanta continue to look like a scene from "The Walking Dead" as abandoned cars still fill the streets. George Howell is on the road this morning. Good morning George.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Carol you know there's still snows on the ground, ice in places. But the good news, temperatures are going up and people are getting back to those abandoned cars. We're tracking it all here on the roads. And we'll show you what we find here as the CNN NEWSROOM continues.


COSTELLO: Thousands of cars still stranded on the streets of Atlanta. Well they could be gone soon. As the city looks to recover them from two days of shutdowns thanks to the two and a half inches of snow.

CNN's George Howell is in Atlanta. Good morning George.

HOWELL: Carol, good morning. So right now we're at a location here at one of two locations in the city of Atlanta where people can go to retrieve their cars. I want to switch over to this other camera view so you can see what we're about to see right now. You see police here in place, you see the National Guard as well. This is where they're staged so people can come here and ask questions to find out exactly where their cars are. And then the National Guard will help them to get to those cars.

And you know, I want to get out here and kind of show you what we see right. You see the National Guard. You can see right here in front of this church is what it really is. Some people brought their cars here Carol when the event happened. They brought their cars here and left the cars here. And you hear these stories about people walking for hours -- walking for hours to get home, walking for hours to find a place to stay warm and just you know wait until they could get safe, get home and get to their safety.

So what we're seeing now is after all of this we're talking a day after the event, people are coming back now getting in touch with officials and trying to get their cars back.

COSTELLO: George Howell, reporting live. Thanks so much.

Still to come in the NEWSROOM, he's the son and brother of former Presidents. So will Jeb Bush decide to follow in his family's footsteps and launch his own bid for the White House? You'll hear his answer next.

But first what do Blake Shelton, Keith Urban and Craig Morgan have in common? Well they're all members of the Nashville Grand Ole Opry. Take a backstage tour of this American icon with our national travel insider country music star Craig Morgan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CRAIG MORGAN, COUNTRY SINGER: I'm country singer Craig Morgan and Nashville is my city. It's the capital of country music. I'm going to take you on a VIP backstage tour here at the Grand Ole Opry.

First thing we do when we get in is we have to check in and find out where our dressing room is. Where am I at tonight? As a member, you have a mailbox so the fans can send mail to us here.

Not everybody that plays at Grand Ole Opry is a member of the Grand Ole Opry. To date there are just over 200 members. This is a list of every member past and present. There's 19 dressing rooms -- well, actually there's only 18 because there's not a number 13.

You never know who you're going to run into. What is y'all's favorite thing about being here at the Opry?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Porter, (inaudible) standing in them big tall shoes.

MORGAN: Look who we have here, Mr. Ricky Skaggs.

This is the green room. During the flood of 2010, this is how high the water level got.

This is the infamous circle here at the Grand Ole Opry where the legends as well as new artists stand to perform.

Thanks for spending time with me backstage at the Grand Ole Opry. Hope to see you in Nashville soon. It's time for me to hit the stage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome Mr. Craig Morgan.




COSTELLO: Jeb Bush's mom may not want him to run for president in 2016. He doesn't seem to be ruling out a bid just yet. Bush who was touring a Miami area school told CNN affiliate WPLG about his timetable for a decision.


JEB BUSH, FORMER GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA: I'm deferring the decision to the right time which is later this year. And the decision will be based on can I do it joyfully because I think we need to have candidates lift our spirits. It's a pretty pessimistic country now.

And is it right for my family?


COSTELLO: Bush also addressed his mother Barbara noting while she promised she would stop publicly saying he should not run for president, that she is 89 years old, she speaks her own mind and he loves her very much.

Our chief national correspondent and anchor of CNN's new show "INSIDE POLITICS" John King joins me now. Good morning John.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning Carol. I don't think Barbara Bush's outspokenness has anything to do with her age. She's been doing that for a long time.

COSTELLO: She has. She has her own mind.

I was going to bring up this new Washington Post/ABC News poll that shows that if the presidential primary was held today, actually Jeb Bush would have a good chance among Republican voters.

KING: It's fascinating. When you listen to those comments you just played most people would think OK, I've heard that before, I will make my decision down the road. I've talked to the governor about this and I've listened to the radio interviews and other interviews he's done from time to time.

If you actually listen to Jeb Bush, if you're (inaudible) he sounds more open to running than he has in the past or at least he sounds more open to the idea than he normally allows. Normally he says I don't want to talk about that or that's way down the road or this. But there he talks about well we need more optimistic candidates. We have a depressed country right now -- people feel down about the path of the country.

That was a guy who seems to me to be a bit further along in the thought process if you will. You showed poll numbers. A lot of people say oh no, another Bush. That's one of the reasons his mother says don't run. We'll have a Bush and we'll have Clinton but a lot of conservatives like the idea of Jeb Bush especially as Chris Christie has stumbled a bit.

A lot of the more establishment mainstream Republicans say we need a governor or former governor. We need somebody who can reach outside the traditional Republican base. Jeb Bush has proven that in the state of Florida. And a lot of conservatives like him because he's an ideas guy. He doesn't say just no when the Democrats propose something whether it's education or tax or spending or something else. He loves debates about ideas.

So a lot of Republicans think, when the party is struggling like it is, that's the kind of guy you want in those debates.

COSTELLO: Well, we'll see. On the Democratic Hillary Clinton, of course, is far and away the favorite. She has a whopping 73 percent -- who can beat her?

KING: Let's suggest an early campaign song. We'll go retro for Hillary Clinton. MC Hammer "Can't Touch This".

Look at those numbers right there. If you're another Democrat -- let's say you're Governor Andrew Cuomo, you're Governor Martin O'Malley of Maryland and New York -- those two governors I just mentioned. John Hickenlooper of Colorado -- all people looking at this, even the sitting vice president of the United States, look at that -- that's 60 points Carol. Never, never -- Washington Post and ABC has done this early primary polling for 30 years. They say they've never had anything even close to this.

And don't just look at the polling numbers. Look at infrastructure. All the campaign finance people; a lot of people who worked for Barack Obama in 2012; a lot of other senior strategists in the Democratic Party; the Super PAC community building a campaign and a financial infrastructure for Secretary Clinton to run. Will she run? We'll see in a year or so. We'll get that decision. There's never in my lifetime been anything like this. That doesn't mean she can't be beat. But boy, that's a steep hill.

COSTELLO: Yes, you're not kidding. John King -- many thanks and congrats on your new show.

KING: Thank you. Thank you very much. Looking forward to it.

COSTELLO: You're welcome.

Still to come in the NEWSROOM, the mystery surrounding the death of a passenger on the Asiana plane crash deepens with a new report.

Dan Simon has that story from San Francisco -- good morning Dan.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning Carol. This is a really unfortunate story. We're going to have the details coming up. The San Francisco Fire Department is now pushing back on this idea that they killed a Chinese teenager by running trucks over her. We'll have that story coming up.


COSTELLO: Checking our top stories at 57 minutes past the hour. Any minute now, an Italian court could issue a new the verdict in the case against Amanda Knox and her ex boyfriend. They're accused of murdering British exchange student Meredith Kercher in Italy back in 2007. She, as you know, was convicted in 2009 and then acquitted two years later. Knox, of course, is back home in Seattle. She says she's innocent.

There are new details in that Target hack attack. The company says it believes the breach started when hackers gained access to their systems by using stolen credentials from a different company the retailer works with. Target says it's is limiting access to some internal systems that its venders used while the investigation moves forward.

Also this morning, a new report is adding to confusion surrounding the death of a 16-year-old passenger who was aboard that Asiana plane that crashed in San Francisco.

Dan Simon joins me live now from that city with more -- good morning.

SIMON: Good morning -- Carol. This story has really presented a public relations challenge for the San Francisco Fire Department ever since all this occurred. Essentially what the fire department is saying is that she may have been run over by a couple of fire trucks, this Chinese teenager. But at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter because she was already dead.

Before we sort of explain all the issues, let's take look at this dramatic video that was released a few weeks ago. This is from a helmet camera worn by one of the firefighters.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa, whoa, stop, stop, stop. There's a body right -- there's a body right there. Right in front of you.


SIMON: Now what that video clearly shows is that the Fire Department knew that there was a body there. What they're saying now according to this report that they released to the NTSB is that she was already dead. They say they're basing this on the fact that her injuries were similar to those of another passenger who was thrown by the plane who died as a result of being thrown from the plane.

They're saying essentially she may have been run over by those trucks, but she was already dead. Now the San Mateo county coroner who performed the autopsy is pushing back on this very hard. He's saying that he performed a very unbiased review. He did this autopsy with integrity and that she died as a result of being run over by those fire trucks.

Something tells me Carol this may ultimately be settled by the courts. As you know the family of the 16-year-old Chinese teenager has filed a legal claim against the city. And right now it's just two sides battling it out here. But no question, this is an interesting development -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Dan Simon reporting live from San Francisco.

That will do it for me today. Thank you so much. I'm Carol Costello.

"LEGAL VIEW" with Ashleigh Banfield starts now.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN HOST: It's an abandoned car purgatory after Atlanta's rush hour from hell, tow trucks taking over where snowplows, salt trucks and public officials failed.