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Desperate Call from Sinking Plane; The Era of Marissa Mayer at Yahoo!; Iraq Vet Gets Double Arm Transplant; PFC Ted Daniels Recorded Famous Video; Texas Prepares to Execute Woman; Boy Scouts May Drop Gay Ban.

Aired January 29, 2013 - 11:30   ET


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: One of the passengers had the wherewithal to grab a phone and make this incredibly desperate call to 911. Listen.


CHRISTOPHER SMIDT: Can you open this door?

We're going to go to see the rear -- we're going to the rear of the plane.


SMIDT: The plane is filling up.

911 OPERATOR: OK. Try and keep me on the phone. Where in the Hudson, sir?


Where in the -- sir?


911 OPERATOR: Where in the Hudson River?

SMIDT: We're at the Alpine Tower.

911 OPERATOR: Alpine Tower?

SMIDT: Yes. We're in the middle of the Hudson.

911 OPERATOR: The middle of the Hudson.


BANFIELD: In the middle of the Hudson. That sounds pretty darn calm for a man who just crashed into a freezing cold river. And can I tell you, not just freezing, unbearably cold. There was ice all around. And temperatures were dipping well down into the 20s.

Next, listen as he moves to the back of the plane and then starts getting into that freezing cold water. (BEGIN AUDIO FEED)

911 OPERATOR: Are you still in the plane?

SMIDT: We are in the plane. The plane is taking on water.

911 OPERATOR: OK. Is it possible for you to get out?

SMIDT: We can get out if we have to.

911 OPERATOR: OK. I need you to get out if the --


SMIDT: The plane is going down. Let's go. Get out. Get out.

All right. The plane is -- we're definitely -- we're going down. We're going down.

911 OPERATOR: OK. Sir?


911 OPERATOR: I need you to get out of the plane and let me know when you're out.

SMIDT: I'm out of the plane.

911 OPERATOR: OK. Where --


SMIDT: I'm going to lose you, though. I'm going to lose you. The water's freezing.

911 OPERATOR: Sir?

SMIDT: The water's freezing!

911 OPERATOR: I know. I understand that. But I need you to get out of the plane so you're not trapped in the plane.

SMIDT: All right. We're out.

911 OPERATOR: OK. You both are out?

SMIDT: We're not going to make it to shore.

911 OPERATOR: I'm sorry?

SMIDT: I'm not going to make it to shore.

911 OPERATOR: OK. We have -- we have an officer en route, and we have a boat en route.

SMIDT: OK. I'm going to lose you. 911 OPERATOR: OK. Can you stay on the phone with me? Sir? Sir? Sir?

I lost him.


BANFIELD: Can you imagine the feeling of that operator right about then, thinking that I lost him means I may have lost him? Really incredible stuff. But guess what? There's a good ending to this one. They were picked up after about 30 minutes in that frigid water. That they survived that water, it's amazing in itself. They are now out of the hospital. And both the pilot and passenger are doing OK. What a story.

All right, to our business guru now. She has some amazing tales to tell us, as well.

I always think of famous women who are in big leadership roles, Cheryl Sandberg, Jenny Romedy, Meg Whitman. And I wish I could rattle off loads and loads of names. But here's the truth. There's a study that shows 2 percent of top executive positions, like president and chairperson and CEO, are held by women. So I don't have a big list of women to tell you about. But there is one. And it's making huge headlines.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And she's probably the most famous in Silicon Valley right now, except Cheryl Sandberg. I would put those two up in the same place. Her name is Marissa Mayer. She runs a company called Yahoo!. Ever heard of Yahoo!? Think of it. This woman is not even 40 yet. Not even 40. She's been running the company for about two quarters, and she's got probably the most famous turnaround attempt ahead of her at Yahoo!



ROMANS (voice-over): Remember this? At one time, Yahoo! search was bigger than this and this. In the 1990s and early 2000s, Yahoo! ruled the web, generating more online search traffic than all of its competitors. But then Yahoo! lost its way as one chief after another faltered at the helm, right when Yahoo! badly needed leadership to maintain relevance on line.

DAVE MCCLURE, FOUNDING PARTNER, 500 STARTUPS: Generally speaking, I think they've been losing the race pretty badly to Google and search. I think they've been losing sort of the battle in e-mail and other areas.

ROMANS: That's where Marissa Mayer steps in, or so boosters hope.

MARISSA MAYER, CEO, YAHOO!: I think one of the important things for Yahoo!'s strategy moving forward is mobile.

ROMANS: She's a former executive at Google who took Yahoo!'s CEO post last summer, the first fortune 500 chief to enter the job pregnant. But she's wasted no time trying to change things around, taking only two weeks off for maternity leave. She has stopped at nothing to rise up the ranks in a silicon valley dominated by men.

Mayer's biggest challenge is to define what Yahoo! is today. Yahoo! gave up on search. It now partners instead with Microsoft Bing. But Yahoo! mail is still going strong, ranked the second-most popular mail service on line. And its news site generates lots of traffic.

Mayer wants Yahoo! to personalize the web for its users, from content to emails to ads, and says mobile will be the key to a turnaround.

MAYER: When you look at what people want on their phone, you can read it from top to bottom. It's mail, weather, check stock quotes, check sports scores, watch videos, share photos, check the news. This is a huge opportunity for Yahoo!. Because we have the content. We have all of the information that people want on their phones. And now it's about making it easy and relevant to use on mobile.

ROMANS: So far, investors are expressing confidence in Mayer. Yahoo! Shares, up 30 percent since she took over as CEO. But the stock price is still down that much compared to five years ago when Yahoo!'s brand started to lose its clout.

But for the first time in four years, Yahoo! grew its revenue, up 4 percent in the final quarter of 2012 from the previous year. A good start for Marissa Mayer.


BANFIELD: I think about other titans of tech, and I think of Steve Jobs and these -- larger than life, you know, personalities who are always out front and center, at least it seemed to the -- to the initiated. But she doesn't do a lot of press conferences or interviews.

ROMANS: She's been focused right now on running this company for these past couple of quarters. She's very famous for her work at Google. She came up through Google. I think she was Google employee number 20, which means she's fabulously wealthy from writing Google up. She's taken her Google street smarts over to Yahoo!. She wants it try to personalize your web experience and make Yahoo! relevant again.

BANFIELD: Do you know what fabulous wealthy actually means in real terms?


BANFIELD: I JUST heard $300 million. That's her net worth.


BANFIELD: Just like you.

ROMANS: That's a lot of money. BANFIELD: Very similar to you.


ROMANS: Yes, drop a whole bunch of zeros. A whole bunch of zeroes and a couple of decimal points.

But what I'm telling you is, it's interesting, too, when she came on and had her baby, a lot of people complain there aren't a lot of women in Silicon Valley. She came and she said I'm only going to take a couple of weeks of maternity leave, I'm going to work through it. And people said, oh, how dare she. What kind of a role model is she setting for women? Wait, you can't complain that there aren't women in Silicon Valley and then complain because somebody wants to be a powerful woman in Silicon Valley. I remember when she said --


BANFIELD: Maybe her husband stayed home.

ROMANS: I think he's a venture capitalist.


He's got a big job, too. They're a big couple.

This is a company people will be watching because the stock is up 30 percent. This is a company that many people remember from their youth. Is she going to make it relevant again? Is she going to make the company match the stock turnaround?

BANFIELD: Real quick, last comment, is she making it relevant through mail and mobile?

ROMANS: That's what she wants to do. She wants to turn the existential crisis around from is Yahoo!, and turn it into your personal web, your personal web experience. Personalize it via Yahoo!.

BANFIELD: Up 30 percent. How about them apples?

Christine Romans.

ROMANS: The stock is down a little today. She has a lot to prove. That's what we'll be looking for ahead.

BANFIELD: Thank you, Christine.


BANFIELD: And you can lead more about Marissa Mayer, her Yahoo! Turnaround, and why she's encouraging her staff to move more quickly. You can find it at

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BANFIELD: I want you to look at a couple of pictures of an Iraq war vet. Bear with me. There's a good reason I want to introduce him. He's an American hero. His name is Brendan Marrocco. Get a good look at him. He's like a lot of other 26-year-olds. He loves cars and he's sarcastic and digs Twitter big time. In fact, he posts a lot of pictures on Twitter himself. There he is. He tweeted out, "I'm bored at work." He may have been bored when he took the shot. It's hard to believe he is alive at this point, though. He lost all four of his limbs back in 2009 after a roadside bomb went off. One of his friends was killed. Another one injured. In another war in another time, this man would be dead. Probably would have died on the battlefield. And he's holding a news conference right now to show something off, something amazing -- two brand new arms. He is the successful recipient of a double arm transplant. And he couldn't be happier. He's smiling at the press conference. Tweeting out the fact that the limbs are starting to move somewhat. It seems unbelievable. If it seems such, it just may be.

Elizabeth Cohen joins me live to answer to this miracle.

You know, I thought this might be a first-time thing. But it's happened a few times before, double arm transplants. How do they do it? It seems so intricate.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: They have to reconnect everything. You can imagine, this is surgery done at times with a microscope. You're reconnecting every muscle, every tendon, every nerve. And you're connecting blood vessels. If that limb doesn't get blood, that limb will die.

I was just on the phone with a surgeon who's done these before. He said that is the part that really makes you sweat is when you have to put that circulatory system back together. So, Brendan Marrocco is the seventh person to have this double arm transplant. The surgeon told me the biggest part of success is what part of the arm the transplant is done. The closer to the wrist, the better. In simple terms, the more of the arm you have to transplant, the more difficult the task is.

And Brendan's actually -- it's amazing. One of his arm -- I have to look at my notes. His left arm, it was below the elbow. The right arm was the entire arm. Right, it was above the elbow for the left. Excuse me, above the elbow for the left arm and the entire arm for the right arm. So that's pretty amazing. These are very extensive surgeries.

We heard from him at the press conference. Let's take a listen.


BRENDAN MARROCCO, MILITARY VETERAN: Pretty much now I can move my elbow. This was my elbow, the one I had before. I can rotate a little bit. This arm is pretty much -- not much movement at all. Not yet at least. Hopefully -- we're hopeful for the future to get some pretty good function out of it, out of both of them.


COHEN: So again, he can rotate one elbow and can't do much with the other arm. Ashleigh?

BANFIELD: I was looking at -- a 13-hour operation. They had to connect bones, blood vessels, muscles, tendons, nerves, and skin on both of those limbs. And he mentioned that he could feel movement but couldn't yet move those fingers. What do the doctors say the chances are that those will be functioning arms?

COHEN: You know, they probably won't be fully functional, let's say in the way that you or I function. The surgeon who's done these before says he has patients who can do everything you or I can do but not as fast. It's not going to be necessarily like it was for him before the surgery. But when you think about what the alternative is which is a prosthetic, any kind of movement, any kind of function is definitely an improvement over that.

BANFIELD: You know something, Brendan recognizes he's lucky to be alive because there was someone in his vehicle who didn't survive. A great story. We're proud of him.

Elizabeth, thank you.

COHEN: Thanks.

BANFIELD: Elizabeth Cohen reporting.

Keep us updated. Amazing story.

I want to give an update on a story that we first brought to you last year. And I think you'll remember it because the video was nothing short of dramatic.




DANIELS: I'm hit!


BANFIELD: Dramatic and real and true. A soldier in Afghanistan, his helmet cam catching the moment he went under fire. This is action, the real kind. Anonymous at the time, the soldier crying out over and over to his platoon, "I'm hit." He intentionally took on fire to try to draw the fire away from his mates. And now, we know who he is. And also, we know that he felt embarrassed that this video went viral.


DANIELS: It was a vulnerable moment for me right there.

I kind of pride myself on being a tough guy. Not once in my life have I ever cried out like that. And -- ever.


DANIELS: I thought I was going die.


BANFIELD: Private First Class Ted Daniels, that's his name. The military told him to keep quiet after the video went viral. Now the military is letting him talk.

Daniels says he never wanted the video to go public and that he even intended to get YouTube to take it down.


DANIELS: I said, listen, can you please take this video down. It's going to bring a lot of heat on me. It's not something that I really want, please remove it. Never got a reply.


BANFIELD: Now, in fact, he was appealing to the person who posted it on YouTube and didn't get the reply. After that camera shot went dead, Daniels ran for the armored vehicle. It was about a 300-yard dash under fire. He was already bleeding from his arms and hands. There was a lot of shrapnel that hit him. On the way, he was hit again. This time, a bullet grazed his helmet. He also talked about how he felt afterwards and about his effort to draw that enemy fire away from his fellow soldiers.


DANIELS: We all made it out. And you know, we all made it to fight another day. It felt good.


BANFIELD: Daniels said that after he watched the video for the first time, he could not sleep for days. And here's something else -- he still has not shown that to his two kids.


BANFIELD: For years, the Boy Scouts of America have preached the creed that a Scout must be "morally straight" and to do his duty to God and country. That has always meant that gay people were not allowed and not wanted. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that anti-gay policy back in 2000. Now the national organization is saying that it's considering changing its long-standing policy against gay people. Officials say the rethinking is due to months of protests, including a protest in which hundreds of angry Scouts renounced Scouting's Eagle Scout award, and actually sent back their medals.

Jennifer Tyrrell is an openly gay den mother. She had a very adverse response -- or adverse affect of her experience with the Boy Scouts. She actually was a former den mother for the Cub Scouts and then said that she was kicked out because of her sexual orientation. After the break, she's going to join us.


BANFIELD: Kimberly McCarthy is indeed a rare breed. Rare, because in just a few hours, she's going to be a dead woman, literally. She'll be the 13th woman to be executed in the United States since 1976. She's been calling death row her home for the last 14 years, after a Texas jury found her guilty not just one time, two times. Just in case you're curious about what she did, the evidence showed that she called her elderly neighbor to borrow a cup of sugar and then went next door and smashed her face with a candlestick, chopped off her finger to steal her diamond ring and then stabbed her to death with a butcher knife. McCarthy was also tied to two other similar murders.

As gruesome as McCarthy's crime was, her execution still is pretty unusual. It's tough to get your mind around that, but since the death penalty was reinstated decades ago, only these 12 women have actually gone to the death chamber before McCarthy does, barring any kind of clemency. Women account for just one in 10 murder arrests. All right, 10 percent of murder arrests are women. However, women account for only one in 100 executions. So look at that percentage drop. Raises a question, why is that? What's with the discrepancy? The crimes are still pretty awful, right? If you get sentenced to death, if it's a murder, it's a murder.

Our CNN legal contributor Paul Callan joins us now.

Not all murders are the same, it turns out.

PAUL CALLAN: Not at all.

BANFIELD: Even heinous murders are not the same. There's something called mitigators and a jury and a human factor.

CALLAN: Exactly. And women, you know, prosecutors -- I probably was involved in hundreds of murder investigations as a prosecutor here in New York City. You almost never see women involved in murders. So that I think you said the stat was one in 10 arrests.

BANFIELD: One in 10.

CALLAN: It's not even on people's radar screen that a woman can commit a crime like this. You kind of go into it with an assumption, gee, it's a woman, can't be true. And so they get sort of a benefit of the doubt that I think men don't get when these cases are tried and when sentencing occurs.

BANFIELD: A lot of the women who come into a courtroom on a murder charge, a murder-one charge, a lot of times it's boyfriends, lovers, children. But people close to them. Does that tell you somehow there was -- there were other things that played into that murder more so than with men who murder strangers, thrill killings, women don't go fit into that category as often. CALLAN: No, they don't go into that category. When you look into other categories, this follows. Women don't commit robberies the way men do. They don't commit offenses the way men do. So it shouldn't be surprise that murder is the same way.

I think when you see these women who get sentenced to death, they're usually extraordinary cases, cases of extraordinary brutality. You were describing this case. 71 years old, her finger was chopped off while alive to get the ring. And then she's stabbed five times with a butcher knife. Brutal, brutal, extraordinary brutality.

BANFIELD: Almost feels as though you have to be a person like McCarthy. Or do you remember Aileen Wuornos, which the movie, "Monster" was based? I want to play a clip of Wuornos, if you don't know this case. This is her in court in front of people who are the arbitrators of her life. Take a listen to Aileen Wuornos.


AILEEN WUORNOS, CONVICTED OF MURDER: You sabotaged my (EXPLETIVE DELETED) society and the cops and the system. A raped woman got executed. When she was -- for books and movies and (EXPLETIVE DELETED), ladder climbs, the election and everything else. I put a finger in all of your faces, thanks a lot. You're an inhumane bunch of (EXPLETIVE DELETED) and you're going get your (EXPLETIVE DELETED) nuked in the end. Pretty soon it's coming. 2019, Iraq's supposed to hit you anyhow. You're all going to get nuked.

You don't take human life like this and sabotage and rip it apart like Jesus on the cross and say, thanks a lot for all of the money made off of you and not care about a human being and the truth being told. Now I know what Jesus was going through.


BANFIELD: That was one day before her execution.

I'll tell you something, in the courtroom, before jurors, et cetera, it was a lot of the same stuff. Is that what it takes for jurors to get to I'll vote yes for death? You have to have someone of that ilk, but not so for men?

CALLAN: It's a vengeance kind of thing for a jury. They're not supposed to do this. A crime of brutality, the idea this punishment is deserved. In this case that we've looked at, there is a second factor. What threat would she pose to the society if she ever got out of prison? I think jurors look at that, and they say, is this person truly a monster? And if they ever could get out of prison, we're not going to allow that to happen, so they impose the death penalty.

BANFIELD: We'll have to keep an eye on this case. Obviously, clemency can happen. But this is Texas, and it doesn't often happen there.

This is scheduled for this evening. We'll have to watch closely to see if Kimberly McCarthy ends up executed, a dead woman, as I said, tonight.

Paul Callan, thank you.

CALLAN: Nice to be with you.

BANFIELD: Nice to always be with you. Thank you for your insight.

Before the break, I mentioned to you the Boy Scouts of America have decided that they may, in fact, consider changing a longstanding policy against having gay people in the organization. Jennifer Tyrrell is an openly gay mother of four kids and was a den mother, in fact, for Cub Scouts and says she was kicked out because of her sexual orientation.

We had problems with your earpiece before. Can you hear me loud and clear?

JENNIFER TYRRELL, FORMER CUB SCOUT DEN MOTHER: I can hear you. Thank you for having me.

BANFIELD: I have a minute left. We had problems with your technical stuff. Your reaction, I know this has been a battle for you. This is quite a moment.

TYRRELL: It's definitely been a battle. Everybody that's involved is excited and hopeful. We're going to anxiously await the final decision from the Boy Scouts before we completely celebrate. I think it's good news and it's a good step. One day, we'll all have equality in all aspects of life. That's my hope.

BANFIELD: 30 seconds to the end of the show. I've got to ask you, final decision, if it's the final decision, will that get you back into the Boy Scouts? Interested in getting back into the organization?

TYRRELL: If they approve this, it will be a great step, and when all kids are allowed in the Scouts and all parents and all families, yes, I look forward to that day when we can all go back.

BANFIELD: All right. I know you've got three boys. I'll be interested to watch your progress. Wish I had more time.

TYRRELL: Me, too. Have me back.

BANFIELD: We will. That's a guarantee.

Jennifer Tyrrell, live with us.

Like I said, out of time. NEWSROOM INTERNATIONAL continues.