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Governor Chris Christie Faces New Allegations; Keeping the Super Bowl Safe; Amanda Knox Vows to Fight Conviction; Ex-Scouts Leader Charges for Toppling Rock; Florida Evidence Tampering Investigation; Final Preps for Super Bowl Sunday; Super Commercial Preview at the Super Bowl; CNN Viewers Training for Triathlon; Firefighters Stayed Put as Man Died; U.S. Women Ski Jumpers Make It to Olympics
Aired February 1, 2014 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Very cute.
All right. We've got much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM and it all starts again right now.
Hello, again, everyone. I am Fredricka Whitfield. Here are the top stories that we're following in the CNN NEWSROOM.
What did he know and when did he know it? New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is facing more questions about those controversial lane closures on the world's busiest bridge. The new allegations and the governor's reaction coming up.
And Blackhawk helicopters are in the skies above the Super Bowl stadium in New Jersey. It's all part of a massive security operation ahead of the big show. We'll take you behind the scenes.
And two former Boy Scout leaders doing this now facing serious jail time. For knocking over that rock. But not just any rock. The story this hour.
First up, those new accusations against New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. One of his former political allies is leveling them saying Christie new more about those controversial lane closures at the George Washington Bridge than he admits.
Erin McPike joining us live now from Washington.
So, Erin, this former appointee, David Wildstein, was a Port Authority official who actually oversaw the lane closures. What is he saying exactly?
ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, you may remember David Wildstein because it was Christie's chief of staff Bridget Kelly who e-mailed him, time for some traffic problems in Ft. Lee and he had that now infamous reply, got it. Well, Wildstein resigned in December over the scandal and the Port Authority already refused once to pay his legal fees, so his lawyer wrote a letter Friday urging them to reconsider. In that letter, the attorney claims that evidence exists tying Christie to having knowledge of the lane closures while they were closed. That is a direct contradiction to what Christie has been saying publicly over the past month but it's important to point there is no indication of what that evidence is or if Wildstein himself even has it, so the revelation may be less damaging than initial reports suggested yesterday because it doesn't necessarily state that he knew about the underlying scandal at the center of the investigation.
So, in response, the Christie administration doubled down in a statement Friday evening that reads, "Mr. Wildstein's lawyer confirms what the governor has said all along. He had absolutely no prior knowledge of the lane closures before they happened and whatever Mr. Wildstein's motivators were for closing them to begin with. As the governor said in a December 13th press conference, he only first learned lanes were closed when it was reported by the press and as he said in his January 9th press conference, had no indication that this was anything other than a traffic study until he read otherwise the morning of January 8th."
Well, there's still some lingering confusion about the governor's timeline because there have been a few discrepancies, but he's sticking by the bottom line that he didn't know about the closings ahead of time, but if Wildstein's bottom line is true, and that is still a very big if at this point, the "New Jersey Star Ledger" has an editorial this morning calling for Christie to resign -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: OK. So meantime the investigation into the scandal, you know, does continue. Any idea whether the next step has now been influenced by this latest letter?
MCPIKE: Well, it may be Assemblyman John Wisniewski, who is leading the committee that is investigating said yesterday that if this evidence exists, he'd like to see it and he's surprised that it was mentioned in the press without him seeing it.
Now you may remember that those subpoenas went out, 20 subpoenas, that is, a few weeks ago and all of that information, the documents, text messages, all of these, the things that they subpoenaed, are due to them on Monday. So we should be seeing a lot of developments coming up this week -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Erin McPike, thanks so much in Washington.
So these new allegations, well, they didn't stop the governor from appearing in a very public event last night. He attended a 60th birthday bash for radio talk show host Howard Stern at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York. The governor made a few jokes even before introducing one of the night's biggest musical acts, that is, Jon Bon Jovi.
So here's an audio portion of the comments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Don't be disappointed. I'm not the representative of New Jersey who you want to see right now. The representative of New Jersey you want to see right now, it's not -- wait. It's not Bababooey. Yes. No. The representative of New Jersey you want to see right now is one of New Jersey's favorite sons, one of my good friends and a great artist, ladies and gentlemen, Jon bon Jovi.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: And there were plenty of other celebrity guests at Stern's party including singers Adam Levine, Stephen Tyler and late-night talk show host, David Letterman.
On to Florida now, the Department of Law Enforcement has announced a review of nearly 2600 cases across the state. All of the cases were processed by the same chemist in a regional crime lab. The work was done for 80 different law enforcement agencies spanning 35 Florida counties. Police say the review was triggered after prescription pain pills were replaced with over-the-counter medications in an evidence room. The cases go back as far as 2006.
In about half an hour from now, we'll get more details from a Florida journalist who has been covering that story.
All right. We are now just hours away from the biggest football game of the year and while fans are getting ready to enjoy the Super Bowl, thousands of security officials are focused on trying to maintain safety.
Alexandria Steele joining me live from Super Bowl Boulevard.
So, Alexandra, this is a very complex security plan and it goes way beyond just officials right there on the ground. Explain.
ALEXANDRA STEELE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Fred. A lot of layers to this, including a level up in the sky. In order to keep those 80,000 fans who will be in the middle of MetLife Stadium safe, you've got to keep the air space around it secure and that is a job for U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents.
They gave us a firsthand look at how they're going to do this job. They took us up in one of their Blackhawk helicopters. Those helicopters will circle a 10-mile perimeter while the game is being played. That will be a strict no fly zone. If someone tries to breach that perimeter, invade that air space, it's a Blackhawk that would intercept in that case.
On the ground, security operations will of course also be in full effect. We visited a secret command center earlier this week. That's where local, state and federal authorities are working together to monitor information and they'll have lots of cameras that they'll be tracking while that game is being played. As part of the preparations, here's what else is happening this week. This is what the lieutenant colonel of the New Jersey State Police told us. He is the instate commander for the Super Bowl. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LT. COL. ED CETNAR, NEW JERSEY STATE POLICE: Will be checking the rails that nothing's going to be disruption on the rail lines. You know, our pilots will be flying with infrared capabilities, as well as night vision capabilities, you know, 24 hours a day, to make sure that nobody is trying to penetrate our perimeter right now around the stadium.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEELE: You'll also remember that this Super Bowl is being billed as really the first mass transit Super Bowl. That of course makes the security measures even more difficult, even more complicated, but it is something that they are, as you just heard, already at work on today -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, Alexandra, very excited fans. They don't care what you're saying.
They're just excited to be there behind you.
STEELE: Enjoy it.
WHITFIELD: Very cool. Yes. Thank you so much.
All right, another major sporting event starts next week. Just days from now. Thousands of miles to the east. From East Rutherford or New York City, no matter which way you want to look at it, with that Super Bowl hosting, so we're talking about Sochi, Russia.
A completely different set of security concerns surrounding the Olympic Games there from the stadium to the ski slopes. Tens of thousands of Russian security forces are in Sochi right now and warships are also patrolling the coast of the Black Sea.
Russia has said this Olympic Games will be safe. U.S. athletes who arrived this week are just trying to focus on the games, focus on their sport, but many of them are worried about security. Warning their families and their friends to simply stay home in the U.S.
This week, Jake Tapper asked President Obama what he would say to people who wanted to go to the Olympics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR, THE LEAD: A lot of members of Congress, and not just like the fringe ones, the ones who actually are serious lawmakers, have said to CNN that they would not let their family members go to Sochi. That they are not confident that it will be safe.
You see all the intelligence. I know that you're not going, I know Michelle and Sasha and Malia are not going, but if close friends of yours or close friends of the girls said hey, we're thinking about going, what would you tell them?
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'd tell them that I believe that Sochi is safe. And that there are always some risks in these large international gatherings. I'm always going to feel even better if it's inside the United States because then we have full control over what happens, but the Russian authorities understand the stakes here. They understand that there are potential threats that are out there and we are coordinating with them.
We've looked at their plans. I think we have a good sense of the security that they're putting in place to protect not only the athletes themselves, but also visitors there.
So what I would say is that if you want to go to the Olympics, you should go to the Olympics and you know, we're not discouraging in any way Americans from participating in what is just always an amazing, wonderful event.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Jake Tapper's full interview with the president is wide range and covering everything from immigration reform to marijuana policies, and you can see more of it tomorrow morning, 9:00 a.m. Eastern on "STATE OF THE UNION" with Candy Crowley.
All right. Amanda Knox has been convicted on murder for a second time. Will she now be extradited back to Italy to serve out her sentence? That's straight ahead.
WHITFIELD: She spent four years in an Italian prison. Now Amanda Knox could be headed back there after an Italian court convicted her again for the 2007 murder of her British roommate. Knox says she'll never return to Italy.
CNN's Elise Labott has more on what could be an epic extradition battle for Knox.
ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER: Fred, this time, Amanda Knox is fighting her conviction from home instead of an Italian prison cell and she says she's determined to remain here in the U.S.
LABOTT (voice-over): Once again, a convicted killer under Italian law for the murder of her roommate in Italy Meredith Kercher. Amanda Knox was distraught yet defiant Friday when she spoke with ABC News.
AMANDA KNOX, CONVICTED OF MURDER TWICE: I will never go willingly back to the place where I -- I'm going to fight this until the very end. <13:15:00>
LABOTT: After four years in an Italian prison Knox was freed in 2011 when an appellate court threw out her conviction and that of her former boyfriend Rafael Sollecito. But the Supreme Court demanded a new trial where Knox was found guilty and sentenced to more than 28 years in prison.
KNOX: This really has hit me like a train. I did not expect this to happen. I really expected so much better from the Italian justice system. They found me innocent before. How can they say that it's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt?
LABOTT: Knox vowed to appeal the verdict before the Supreme Court. But if she loses she could face extradition back to Italy. The State Department wasn't ready to go there.
MARIE HARF, DEPUTY STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: Well, the case is still, as my understanding, still working its way through the Italian legal system, so we don't want to get ahead of that process.
LABOTT: Under the U.S.-Italian extradition treaty, an offense must be punishable under the laws of both countries. Knox could claim double jeopardy, having already been acquitted, and she is already hinting at irregularities by Italian prosecutors, making a case against extradition.
KNOX: I really hope that people try to understand that like when you have overzealous prosecutors and when you have a biased -- biased investigation and coercive interrogations like these things happen. And I'm not -- like I'm not crazy.
BRUCE ZAGARIS, EXTRADITION LAW EXPERT: And she could also argue that she's already spent a lot of time in detention in Italy and that justice would not be served by extraditing her. So -- and then ultimately, the secretary of state is going to have to, you know, make a decision.
LABOTT: Extradition law expert Bruce Zagaris says the U.S. could simply ignore the extradition request, but that it would be highly unusual in the case with a close ally like Italy.
LABOTT: The U.S. risks damaging relations with Italy if it refuses to extradite Amanda Knox. Italians points to a number of high-profile cases in which U.S. suspects have been convicted of wrongdoing but got off including the 22 CIA agents who were convicted in absentia for the rendition of an Egyptian cleric. They have not served any time -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much, Elise Labott.
So another case we're keeping a close watch on. This one right here, two ex-Boy Scout leaders thought knocking over this ancient rock was kind of funny. Well, police didn't. Now action is being taken. And why parents are in an uproar over what happened at a school cafeteria this week.
WHITFIELD: Two ex-Boy Scout leaders are now charged with third-degree felonies after pushing over a rock in Utah's Goblin Valley State Park and then posting it all on YouTube.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wiggle it just a little bit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Oh, boy. So that wasn't just any rock. Park officials say it was ancient boulder that was millions of years in the making and the two men are accused of defacing a state park now.
Let's bring in Nick Valencia for more on this very serious charges being leveled.
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely very serious. And it's not -- it doesn't match up with the reaction to what they actually are accused of doing. They have very awkward defenses here. They say that they were doing it for the best interest of passersby, for people that may have been injured by this precariously positioned rock.
But the district attorney simply didn't buy it. Level charges, third- degree felony charges against them. They have a court date in March and if they're convicted, they could face five years in prison, $5,000 and jail. They've already had their reputations damaged within the Boy Scouts.
That organization where they were leaders, Fred. They dismissed them from their roles as leaders. They were in this Utah Valley Park because they were on a Boy Scout trip and this is what resulted from that, back in October of 2013.
WHITFIELD: And if convicted then what?
VALENCIA: Yes, five years, $5,000 fine. We're going to find out in March, but this video evidence is going to be very damaging. The reaction we talked about it last hour. It would be -- it's very, very interesting that they would put this defense forward. Seeing the tone and sort of how they act -- reacted to what they did, giggling, laughing.
WHITFIELD: So they were Boy Scout leaders at the time of this taping.
WHITFIELD: They were with Boy Scouts.
WHITFIELD: Boy Scouts like witness to this? Do we know?
VALENCIA: Well, somebody was recording that. I don't know exactly who was recording. One of the men charged, but we don't know who was around them as they were doing this, but we know they were there with a group, Boy Scout troop, and this is what resulted from that experience for them.
WHITFIELD: Wow, what a mess. All right.
VALENCIA: Yes. It's going to be a mess for them.
WHITFIELD: Yes, indeed. All right. Thanks so much, Nick Valencia.
VALENCIA: You got it. Thank you.
WHITFIELD: Appreciate it.
All right, we are also now following a story out of Florida where thousands of criminal cases could be in jeopardy because of evidence tampering. New information on that straight ahead.
WHITFIELD: We're following a story in Florida where the Department of Law Enforcement has announced a review of nearly 2600 cases across the state. All the cases were processed by the same chemist in a regional crime lab. The work was done for 80 different law enforcement agencies across 35 Florida counties.
Let's get a better idea about what this investigation means. I'm joined now by Andy Alcock with WCTV in Tallahassee who's been following the story.
So, Andy, what's your understanding of what is being alleged here? What's the problem?
ANDY ALCOCK, WCTV-TV REPORTER: Well, the problem is, Fredricka, apparently one chemist dealt with all of the cases that you mentioned and it was determined last week there was a problem with some cases in Escambia County, Florida, which is the Pensacola Region. They determined that there were -- had been some prescription drugs replaced with over-the-counter medicine and there were some missing drugs in other cases.
And they traced these cases back to the same chemist and now they've had an opportunity to look at several dozen cases. Apparently already compromised and so now they're going to look at all the cases this individual chemist is involved in.
Jerry Bailey says the criminal investigation into this chemist, who hasn't been identified yet because he has not been charged as of yet, apparently they think it's possible that he may have either been taking the medicine or maybe even dealing in the medicine. They don't know yet. But that's where they're investigation is leading at this point.
WHITFIELD: OK. So just so I'm clear. So we're saying that it is alleged this chemist who was to be looking at evidence that included prescription drugs may have swapped out that -- those drugs, that evidence whether it'd be for his own personal use or perhaps involved those drugs on the black market in some way?
ALCOCK: Correct. Yes. It's entirely possible. They think he may have been trafficking the medicine. Again, very important to point out, this individual has not been charged yet. He's been placed on leave and still being paid at this point until he is charged. They do expect if they find evidence, they believe they will, they expect he's going to be fired and criminally charged, but to this point, it hasn't happened yet.
The upshot of this, too, is that they believe that it's certainly possible, as you mentioned, hundreds of cases in 35 Florida counties. Now Florida only has 67 counties. So we're talking more than half the counties in Florida that could have an impact and it is possible Commissioner Jerry Bailey told us current cases could be tossed out, and convictions, possibly could be overturned so people currently in prison could conceivably released, defending on what they find in this investigation.
They're going to send people beginning Monday to all of these jurisdictions FDLE were talking about, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. They're going to go through all of these jurisdictions and start looking at cases this particular chemist investigated and see where it leads them.
And so there is a lot more to come in the days ahead.
WHITFIELD: Andy Alcock, WCTV, thanks so much. From Tallahassee. Keep us posted on what you learn.
We'll have much more from the NEWSROOM after this.
WHITFIELD: All right, the gridiron is ready, the halftime acts are set, and the fans and the teams, well, they can't wait for kickoff. Super Bowl XLVIII is just a day away and our Andy Scholes is live on Super Bowl Boulevard in Times Square with a preview.
So, Andy, what's happening besides a whole lot of people converging behind you.
ANDY SCHOLES, THE BLEACHER REPORT: You know, yes, a whole lot of people out here, Fredricka, and the weather is actually great. It was -- it's so warm I took my jacket off. As you can see I'm sleeveless right now -- not sleeveless, I have sleeves, but I'm not wearing a jacket. It's about 40 something degrees out here. Really nice.
SCHOLES: Yes, great for the -- warm for New York. Now it's great for the fans out here. This is like an NFL fan dream land. They've transformed 13 blocks on Broadway here in Times Square to what they're calling Super Bowl -- Boulevard. Tons of fun things for fans to do and I definitely know about it because I've been doing all the fun stuff all week.
The best part about Super Bowl Boulevard got me to 60-foot toboggan run. It's the only thing that's not free, it costs five bucks, was definitely worth it. Now you can also kick field goals out here. You can take a picture with a Lombardi trophy. Get autographs with NFL stars. There's live concerts going on all day. Just tons of great, fun things for fans to come out here and do.
Now this year's Super Bowl is actually on pace to be the biggest, best Super Bowl of all time. Actually football game of all time. According to pregame.com, an estimated $10 billion, that's right, billion dollars is projected to be bet on the Super Bowl worldwide.
Now more than half of adult Americans, they're expected to have some sort of money risked during the game. Whether that be in a Super Bowl square pool or betting on how long the halftime show lasts and whatnot.
Now 70 percent of people who are betting on the actual game, they believe the Denver Broncos are going to win. Now before a lot of people place a wager on a game like this, they like to see what the animal kingdom thinks what's going to happen in the game.
Now animals all across the world have been making their picks this week. At a Tennessee Zoo, Lee Lee the Panda, he made his pick and it looks like he wrestled with the decision for a little while before eventually going with the Denver Broncos. Now Lee Lee's buddy, Gabby the Sea Turtle, he also went with the Broncos, made that pick in Myrtle Beach.
And as I said, 70 percent of fans actually think the Broncos are going to win. At least the ones that are betting on it.
I don't know. What do you guys think? Who's going to win the game?
WHITFIELD: Could you make out something?
SCHOLES: I think I heard -- I think I heard more Broncos than Seahawks.
WHITFIELD: Oh, man. SCHOLES: But --
WHITFIELD: I can't tell. It just sounds like --
SCHOLES: I know. I'm on CNN.
WHITFIELD: Yes. That's all they're saying.
SCHOLES: (INAUDIBLE), Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: That too.
SCHOLES: Lots of excitement out here. Everyone's excited for the day's festivities and of course into tomorrow evening's game.
WHITFIELD: That's very fun. And I enjoyed seeing you on the toboggan. Of course, you know, every day, you know, you see folks now holding their phones in every experience they have. So steady hands you have there. That's cute.
SCHOLES: Yes. I didn't have a GoPro camera, so I had to use my iPhone.
WHITFIELD: Hey, that were --
SCHOLES: And the video came out just as nice.
WHITFIELD: They look just great. All right. Thanks so much, Andy. Have a good time out there.
SCHOLES: You, too. All right.
WHITFIELD: So for some of you, the Super Bowl game means one thing. Great commercials. We've got a preview for you today and let's start with this adorable Budweiser ad. We're staying on the animal theme.
Oh, that made me clap. I love that ad. So cute.
Tony Case with us now, he is the executive editor at AdWeek.
OK, so, Tony, what else are we expecting? Are we looking for more, like, you know, I don't know, emotion, you know, like heartstring kind of tugging commercial like that?
TONY CASE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, ADWEEK: Oh, sure. You know, and this one in particular has really resonated. It's only been released three days on YouTube and already 30 million views in three days. I mean, that's the kind of audience you can't get for most network prime time series, right?
WHITFIELD: I know.
CASE: And -- so it's absolutely incredible and of course those ads always resonate as does sex and other topics, but who doesn't love -- who doesn't love a puppy?
WHITFIELD: Who doesn't love a puppy. That was so sweet. I love that. OK. And then there's this other commercial that's getting a lot of attention before Super Bowl involving David Beckham without a shirt on.
So we see him twice. OK. How will that resonate?
CASE: So adorable puppies, and then sexy shirtless guys, we have lots of sex as always.
WHITFIELD: You said it with --
CASE: And lots of -- and lots of celebrities in the Super Bowl this year. We've got Arnold Schwarzenegger for Bud Light. We've even got the Muppets in a Toyota ad. So lots of celebrities. It's always a trend in the Super Bowl.
WHITFIELD: You've got to have a little participation.
WHITFIELD: And then there's a little TV nostalgia, a reunion that folks will be seeing tomorrow. Let's look at it now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now that was a good game. What do you say, boys? Time to go to bed?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't you think it's time we all get our own places?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nah.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nah.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: And that's for that Greek yogurt?
CASE: That's right. Some people call it the yogurt bowl because there's this amazing competition going on out there between these yogurt brands Chobani and Yoplait and --
CASE: So they're going to be at it for sure.
WHITFIELD: People going healthy. CASE: Yes. Yes.
WHITFIELD: You sound really enthusiastic about that. Yes. Yes.
CASE: It's yogurt.
WHITFIELD: I know. Hey, it's made its way into the Super Bowl.
CASE: That's right.
WHITFIELD: And apparently, a whole lot of people's bellies. All right. Well, good to see you. Thanks so much. We're going to have fun watching the ads. Probably more so than we actually enjoy seeing the game. Well, maybe that's just me talking.
CASE: A lot of people, 250 million people watch the ads on YouTube last year and 80 million of those were before the game. So yes.
WHITFIELD: All right. Tony with AdWeek, thanks so much. Good to see you.
CASE: Thanks, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: Enjoy the game.
All right, speaking of enjoying the game, how about the Olympic Games? Ski jumping in the Olympics. It's long been considered a man's sport. Well, not anymore. Straight ahead, meet the woman who -- the women rather, not just one. Women who are changing that perception. And it's a little chilly for a swim, but that isn't stopping our Sanjay Gupta and his team from getting ready for their next challenge in today's "Fit Nation."
Dr. Sanjay Gupta introduces us to the people who will be joining him for the next triathlon.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Fred, you know, one of the best parts of my job is being part of the "Fit Nation" triathlon challenge. We get to help regular viewers train for and race a triathlon. I never thought I could do this. And now, I'm a triathlete.
The road is tough, but everyone who's ever joined us has completed something they thought to be impossible.
GUPTA (voice-over): Hundreds of viewers sent in videos into our iReport site, but in the end, only six were chosen.
(On camera): I watched your video and I want to officially welcome you to our 2014 Fit Nation triathlon team. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my god. Oh my god. Are you serious?
GUPTA (voice-over): Nearly everyone on our 2014 team has been through a major health crisis.
KAREN MANNS, FIT NATION PARTICIPANT: I received my second hip replacement.
JAMIL NATHOO, FIT NATION PARTICIPANT: I was diagnosed with stage three C testicular cancer.
MIKE WILLS, FIT NATION PARTICIPANT: I had a stroke. Had a hole in my heart and clot passed through, went up to my brain.
GUPTA: For others, the pain was emotional.
CONNIE SIEVERS, FIT NATION PARTICIPANT: My daughter when she turned 3 was diagnosed with leukemia. At age 5, she relapsed and then at age 6, she passed away following a bone marrow transplant.
GUPTA: The tragedy sent Connie into a tailspin. She gained 70 pounds. Ron Cochran had gastric bypass surgery, but it wasn't enough.
RON COTHRAN, FIT NATION PARTICIPANT: I always wanted to live the second half of my life better than the first. I bet to myself.
SIA FIGHEL, FIT NATION PARTICIPANT: Sixteen months ago, I decided on a beach that enough is enough.
GUPTA (voice-over): I call it hitting the reset button. Just take a look at me several years ago. I didn't look good. I weighed too much. Fit Nation changed my life.
(On camera): It all starts up here. And I'm going to show you how to do it, whether you just want to get in better shape or you want to inspire a nation.
NATHOO: You can be fit again. You can be healthy again. You know, cancer is not the end.
GUPTA: The last word goes to Coach Wills.
WILLS: I'm afraid my weight situation right now, I'm not going to be around much longer unless I make a change.
GUPTA: And over the next several months, we're going to help them. We're going to help them make that change. We're going to share those lessons with you so that anyone can get more fit, whether you're training for a triathlon or just training for life.
And Fred, maybe you can join us. Back to you.
WHITFIELD: A D.C. Fire Department lieutenant filed for retirement days after a woman said firefighters did nothing to help her dying father. People rushed the fire station for help when the 77-year-old man collapsed across the street last weekend. What they heard next is shocking.
Here's Erin McPike.
MCPIKE: Fred, the incident happened here last Saturday at this fire station where there's now an investigation underway to determine exactly what happened. Whether red tape got in the way or bad judgment or just plain negligence.
MCPIKE (voice-over): When 77-year-old Cecil Mills collapsed outside this shopping center, his daughter, Marie, saw one silver lining. They were just across the street from a fire station, help would surely be on the way quickly. But shockingly firefighters refused several desperate requests from the dying man's daughter and witnesses. Marie says a firefighter watching didn't help.
MARIE MILLS, TRIED TO GET HELP FOR HIS DYING FATHER: I even ran to the curb and said, are you going to help me or are you going to let my dad die?
MCPIKE: Marie says firefighters told people trying to get help they had to call 911 before anyone could respond.
MILLS: Protocol is heartless. It's heartless and that's how I felt.
MCPIKE: Someone did call 911 later. But to make matters worse, that ambulance went to the wrong location 26 blocks away. Cecil Mills died later that day leaving his daughter heartbroken and D.C. officials outrage. They are now investigating, questioning 15 people including three firefighters believed to be involved directly.
We tried to talk to them, too.
(On camera): Was anybody who is here today there on Saturday?
(Voice-over): The deputy mayor who oversees the department says nothing should have prevented helping Mills.
PAUL QUANDER, D.C. DEPUTY MAYOR: Firefighters routinely go into danger. They don't wait to be called. They respond and so that's what's troubling about this. This goes against what firefighting is all about.
MCPIKE: It's still unknown what, if any, role the delayed response played in Cecil Mills' death, but late Thursday, two firefighters were placed on paid administrative leave -- Fred?
WHITFIELD: All right. Erin McPike, thanks so much.
Two school workers in Utah have been suspended after dozens of children there had their lunch tray snatched by school staff. The trays were grabbed from the elementary students on Tuesday before they could even take a bite. Why? Well, school officials said the youngsters didn't have enough money in their student accounts to cover the lunch fees.
Well, as you can imagine, parents are outraged.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SOPHIA ISOM, 5TH GRADER: She took my lunch away and was like, go get a milk. And I'm like, OK. And then I come back up. And I'm like, what's going on? And she had my orange. And she said, you don't have any money in your account so you can't get lunch.
ERIC LUKES, SOPHIA'S MOTHER: There were lots of tears and it was pretty upsetting for them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: The cafeteria manager and her supervisor are now on paid leave and two state senators are pledging potential legislation so that it doesn't happen again.
All right. After being told ski jumping is a man's sport, a team of women got together to make it a woman's sport as well. Their inspiring story, next.
And "YOUR MONEY" is coming up at the top of the hour. Christine Romans joins me with a look ahead.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Fredricka, the Super Bowl promises a financial windfall for the host city, but does it deliver? I'm going to ask the New York Giants co-owner, Jonathan Tish, the New York Jets owner Woody Johnson and former Super Bowl champ Jerome "The Bust" Bettis on my show.
That's coming up at 2:00 p.m. Eastern on a special Super Bowl edition of "YOUR MONEY."
WHITFIELD: Sounds like a touchdown. Thanks, Christine. We'll be watching.
WHITFIELD: Oh, my gosh. Unbelievable. Ashley Arno there. Oh, my goodness. She was a cheerleader at William Kerry University in Mississippi. You've got to see this one again.
Swoosh. Oh, my goodness. So from a front handspring to a half-court shot there making the basket. And guess what? This is not even the first time she's done it. Last year a video of a similar shot went viral and the Harlem Globetrotters actually has already placed a call. They want to learn that move.
We're going to talk to Ashley and find out what is her response to the Globetrotters, and how does she do this? We're talking to her at 3:00 Eastern Time today.
Go, Ashley. Swoosh. Nice.
All right. So we're just six days away now from the start of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. U.S. athletes arrived in Sochi this week, 230 members are on the USA team. It's the all-time largest delegation of any nation in winter games history. Among them is the first-ever U.S. Olympic female ski jumping team.
What it took for them to be able to compete this year is an incredible feat in and of itself.
Ted Rowlands has their inspiring story.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For Jessica Jerome, the feeling of a perfect jump is like nothing else.
JESSICA JEROME, OLYMPIC SKI JUMPER: It's effortless, and it's clean and you just float.
ROWLANDS: Jessica's incredible Olympic journey started with this jump at the age of 7.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Number 28, Jessica Jerome. First hand jump.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good jump, Jess.
BARB JEROME, JESSICA'S MOTHER: She came home one day and announced that she wanted to ski jump, and I had no idea what she was talking about.
ROWLANDS: Within a few years, Jessica and a few of her friends from Park City, Utah, were competing, hitting jumps at 60-plus miles per hour, right alongside the boys.
J. JEROME: We jumped with our hair tucked back, and you couldn't tell the difference.
ROWLANDS: It was decided that women would only be able to compete against each other.
J. JEROME: Which was great for us, because we had our own -- we wanted our own competition, but then they would say, well, you just don't have the depth that the guys have.
ROWLANDS: The women could compete but no Olympics and no official support.
B. JEROME: The guys were sponsored by the U.S. ski team. They had a substantial budget compared to what the girls -- the girls had nothing.
ROWLANDS: But they kept jumping and the former mayor of Salt Lake City, who had firsthand experience with the Olympics, got involved.
DEE DEE CORRADINI, PRESIDENT OF WOMEN'S SKI JUMPING USA: This is discrimination. Plain and simple.
ROWLANDS: But for decades, the International Olympic Committee disagreed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The sport must be widely practiced around the world. This is not the case for women ski jumping.
ROWLANDS: Jessica and teammate Lindsay Van and 13 girls from five different countries decided to take them on the IOC in court. They filed suit demanding that women jumpers be included in the Vancouver Olympics. It turned out to be another heartbreaking defeat.
J. JEROME: There was a lot of times when I wasn't sure I wanted to jump anymore.
ROWLANDS: Jessica says watching the Vancouver Olympics felt like seeing a party that she wasn't invited to, and she was getting tired of fighting.
J. JEROME: I didn't like having to be an advocate for the sport. I would have rather been an athlete.
ROWLANDS: Alan Alborn, a three-time Olympic ski jumper, was one of the skeptics.
ALAN ALBORN, HEAD COACH: I would be the first to say I was very narrow-minded when the women first started fighting.
ROWLANDS: But now he's a believer and he'll coach the first-ever U.S. women's Olympic ski jumping team at Sochi.
WHITNEY CHILDERS, WOMEN'S SKI JUMPING USA COMMUNICATIONS/MEDIA DIRECTOR: They are going to be one of the biggest stories in Sochi. They already are. Such a Cinderella story because of the pureness of it.
CORRADINI: To see these athletes finally achieve their dreams is just fabulous.
B. JEROME: Took so long. A lot of energy. A lot of sacrifice. It's a great moment for them.
ROWLANDS (on camera): Opening ceremony. What's that going to be like for you?
J. JEROME: I have no idea. I hear from other people that it's awesome, and I'm expecting it to be probably the moment where everything kind of sinks in.
ROWLANDS (voice-over): Jessica's Olympic dreams started as that 7- year-old who loved to jump, and while she says she's proud of the fight it took to realize that dream, she's glad it's over.
J. JEROME: And now I can focus on training and trying to have the best jumps of my life.
ROWLANDS: Ted Rowlands, CNN, Park City, Utah.
WHITFIELD: Nice. You go, girls. We'll be watching.
All right, and I'll see you in 30 minutes. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. "YOUR MONEY" starts right now.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The Super Bowl is here. A traffic jam of private jets. Hundreds of millions of dollars of economic activity but who benefits?
I'm Christine Romans, this is YOUR MONEY. Thanks for joining us for this very special edition.