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Royal Baby Watch; Woman Falls from Texas Roller Coaster; Monsoon Rains Lead to Water Rescues in Arizona; "Save Sgt. Sean Murphy"

Aired July 22, 2013 - 09:00   ET



CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Happening now in NEWSROOM: Kate's in labor. Kate's in labor. The royal bundle of joy about to arrive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Prince William is under strict instructions to telephone the queen as soon as the birth has happened.

COSTELLO: The first to know, the queen, on a specially encrypted phone. The second, you.

Also --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of a sudden this little corvette comes bobbing down the water. The water was so high that you couldn't see the vehicle.

COSTELLO: Raging flood waters in Arizona as firefighters pluck people to safety with harnesses and ropes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is pretty bad. I mean, I think the worst I have seen so far.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She goes up like this. And then when it drops to come down, that's when it released and she just tumbled.

COSTELLO: Terror at Six Flags.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They were screaming when they came back and they were trying to get out of the restraint, and they were screaming, "My mom, my mom. We've got to get my mom."

COSTELLO: A woman plunges to her death from a roller coaster. An a expert tells us why.

And --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why does God let bad things happen to good people?

COSTELLO: Evangelical actor Kirk Cameron's versus Facebook users. They vote Cameron's Christian movie off of Facebook. Wait, can they do that?

You're live in CNN NEWSROOM.


COSTELLO (on camera): Good morning. Thank you so much for being with me. I'm Carol Costello. A dull, drab building in London now one of the most watched tourist attractions in the world. Inside, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and the baby that could someday sit on the British throne.

Overnight we learned the former Kate Middleton had gone into labor and now the world waits for news of the royal birth. I love that we played that music.

CNN royal correspondent Max Foster is at St. Mary's Hospital in London and at Buckingham Palace we have Erin McLaughlin and CNN royal commentator Katie Nicholl. Max, let's begin with you. Any word?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, no, but she has been in labor now for about nine hours, at least. So, you know, we're into the process pretty much. We're told that labor is progressing normally so that's good news.

A huge crowd that is really gathering here. Still not as big as the media crowd, I have to say, but it is building. I'm sure they'll overtake us at some point. Huge level of interest. I mean, networks from the whole world have really converged at this point. Photographers dangling off their ladders, as well.

So we'll really just wait for that moment when someone, a palace official comes out onto the doorstep with a notice. That's going to be the first indication that the baby has been born. Then that notice heads towards Buckingham Palace.

COSTELLO: Nine hours. I'm just getting over nine hours she's been in labor. That's like torture.

FOSTER: Yes, that's pretty painful. And we're are all sort of talking about how excited we are about this baby. Have to keep in mind, obviously, it's all about those two. I do know that they're asking palace officials in there with them, with lots of equipment, I don't know what they're doing -- building out some sort of office in there.

But fundamentally in the room, you've only got Kate and William in terms of family and this very large medical team. They've got their two royal obstetricians and then the big medical team from the hospital, the teaching hospital, with some of the top consultants in London and all the midwives, as well. So they could not be in better hands, Carol.

COSTELLO: All right, Max, we're going to get back to you if anything happens.

Let's go to Buckingham Palace and Erin McLaughlin. So who's inside Buckingham Palace waits anxiously by the phone?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That would be the queen, Carol. Small crowd right now outside right now outside of Buckingham Palace. We expect it to grow. Once the baby has been born, the queen has been notified. The process in which the world finds out about this baby is full of history and tradition.


MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): The notice will be driven by a police escort from the Lindo Wing of St. Mary's Hospital to Buckingham Palace. It will be brought inside before being displayed on an easel near the gates of the palace forecourt -- the very same easel that was used to announce the birth of Prince William.

And then two simultaneous, but separate gun salutes -- a 41-round salute in Green Park fired by the King's Troop and a 62-round salute at the Tower of London signaling to the country and the world that the future monarch has finally arrived.


MCLAUGHLIN (on camera): People I've spoken to here outside the palace wishing Kate a very healthy and safe delivery. Even the prime minister, David Cameron, sending his best on this very historic day here in the U.K. Carol?

COSTELLO: Erin, thanks so much. Again, stay where you are because we'll get back to you, in case, you know, the royal baby comes along in these hours. Thanks so much.

Stay with CNN for all the latest on the royal birth. Our crews are in place ready to bring you all the details as we get them. But, for now, let's turn to some other stories making news this morning.

A family described their mother death as a theme park as a nightmare and, this morning, a roller coaster at Six Flags over Texas remains closed as investigators try to figure out what led to this woman's death. Rosy Esparza was on her first trip to the amusement park when she got on the Texas Giant, a 14-story high roller coaster that has what the park calls, quote, "the world's steepest drop."

Witnesses say the woman was worried that her lap bar did not seem secure before the ride started, telling WFAA that the bar only clicked one time instead of three. Those witnesses say that the woman, Rosy Esparza, fell out during the ride. And now the amusement park in charge of the investigation.

Ed Lavandera is in Arlington, Texas, with more. Good morning, Ed.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. Well, a lot of people are surprised that it is Six Flags itself that will be conducting this investigation. There are no outside agencies that take a closer look when a tragedy like this happens.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) LAVANDERA (voice-over): The Texas Giant starts with a spine tingling drop. This is where witnesses say they saw Rosy Esparza fall from the wooden roller coaster. Carmen Brown was next in line to get on the ride when she heard the horrific screams.

CARMEN BROWN, WITNESS: She goes up like this. Then when it drops to come down, that's when it released. She just tumbled.

LAVANDERA: Some witnesses told local news media that Esparza told a Six Flags employee she was worried that her seat restraint had not locked properly. Esparza's son and other family members rode along with her. They had to ride out the 2-minute roller coaster fearing the worst the rest of the way.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They were screaming when they came back and they are trying to get out of the restraint. They were screaming we got to get my mom.

LAVANDERA: Six Flags over Texas Hurricane Harbor refuses to answer questions on camera, but in a written statement says we are committed to determining the cause of this tragic accident. It would be a disservice to the family to speculate regarding what transpired. According to a National Safety Council analysis of amusement park injuries there were just over 1,200 ride-related injuries in 2011.

About 4 percent of those caused serious physical harm. Roller coaster accidents accounted for about 28 percent of the injuries. But industry observers say amusement parks are loosely regulated and that it is Six Flags that will be in charge of conducting the investigation, not an outside independent agency.

KENNETH MARTIN, AMUSEMENT PARK SAFETY ANALYST (via telephone): Whatever organization comes in, whomever comes in, their work is the property of Six Flags and it will remain the property of Six Flags because there's nothing in Texas or many other states that make them have to release that information.


LAVANDERA (on camera): Rosy Esparza's family have not made any public comments but in a Facebook posting, Carol, they did talk about how much -- her sons talked about how much they loved their mother and one of the things that they loved most about her was her spirit of adventure, which brought them here to Six Flags, Carol.

COSTELLO: Ed Lavandera reporting live for us this morning. Joining me on the phone is Robert Swint. He's an accident reconstructionist who tested rides for Six Flags and other amusement parks. Good morning, sir.


COSTELLO: I'm glad you're joining us because this is so frightening because, you know, a lot of us have been on roller coasters a million times and nothing bad has ever happened. When you look at this accident, what strikes you about it?

SWINT: It strikes me as a situation that needs to be further looked at. And I think -- we've worked with Six Flags and they have a team of people, as I understand, looking deeply into this.

The most interesting thing is the, I think the weight of the individual and the size of the individual in this case, being a person that appears to be over the 95 percentile size of a person. And that is a question you have to look at relative to the design of the lap bar and the design of the ride. That alone doesn't necessarily mean there's a problem. We would be looking for other things, as well.

COSTELLO: Are there weight limits on roller coasters?

SWINT: There are certain sizes that are screened -- large size, small sizes. Those are ride dependent and park dependent. Those are things that need to be considered.

COSTELLO: So witnesses said that when Rosy put her, you know, put the bar down, I guess the bar up because it's a lap bar, right, so it comes up from the floor.

SWINT: Correct.

COSTELLO: She said it clicked once instead of three times. But if it only clicked once, would it still lock into place or does it need to click those other two times?

SWINT: Well, I would say that a bar's position is dependent on the size and weight of the individual. You can have a device like that bar fit over a woman that has certain size that would be 95 percentile and wouldn't get to the further lower position because of the restraint of the body. So this all has to be looked at and understood if this ride was appropriate for a person that size.

COSTELLO: Witnesses say she was concerned, but only because of the clicking noise. So the lap bar, it's possible the lap bar, when she pushed up on it when the roller coaster was stationary, she couldn't push it up and it was locked at least somewhat?

SWINT: That's very possible. I think when you look at rides, you have to look at a lot of things. It's not necessarily the bar itself, but could be also part of the speed control on the ride, maintenance on the ride. And also what the operator or the individual occupant may have been doing at the time. So there's no one answer sometimes for these issues.

COSTELLO: Robert Swint, accident recsontructionist, thank you so much for enlightening us this morning. We appreciate it.

SWINT: Thank you.

COSTELLO: Other stories making headlines this morning at 11 minutes past the hour. Police in East Cleveland, Ohio, have arrested a man after finding the bodies of three women wrapped in plastic. They say Michael Madison was renting a garage where one of the decomposed bodies were found and they fear there may be more than three. The identities of the victims and the cause of death might not be known for several days.

A gas line fire forces an evacuation of about ten homes in York County, Virginia. Flames shot as high as 35 feet into the air. Several people said the fire started after lightning struck the area. There have been no reports of injuries. The fire was expected to burn itself out once the gas was shut off.

In sports, from the finals to where did he come from? Phil Mickelson captures his first (inaudible), starting the final day at five shots off the lead. Lefty played some of his best golf ever and he takes home the Claret Jug with his family by his side.


PHIL MICKELSON, 2013 BRITISH OPEN CHAMPION: I played some of the best golf of my career. It feels amazing to have this championship and then to make it more special to have Amy, Amanda, Sofia, Evan here to share this moment. It really is special. It's a day that I'll always cherish, I'll always remember.


COSTELLO: Mickelson won by three strokes. He was the only golfer to shoot under par for the tournament.

Just ahead in NEWSROOM, fast-moving water rushes in and drivers cannot escape it. We'll see if monsoon rains will bring more flooding to Phoenix today.


COSTELLO: All right. We're taking another live look outside of St. Mary's Hospital where Kate is in labor. In fact, according to our own Mark Foster, she's been in labor for about nine hours now. Prince William is by her side. Of course, the queen is awaiting word on an especially encrypted phone back at Buckingham palace.

We're hoping that she has her baby at any moment now because nine hours or later could not be not fun. It's not fun -- not fun at all.

On with other news of the day. Not every day you hear about massive flooding in Arizona, but one rescue another keeping emergency workers busy in the Phoenix area. Fast-moving waters turned roads into rivers and left several people stuck on flooded streets.

Apache Junction, rather, saw some of the worst flooding and that's where we find CNN's Stephanie Elam.

Good morning, Stephanie.


The neighbors are starting to wake up. We've seen some people pulling in here, as you can see right there. They're bringing in signs to tell people to watch out where it's really muddy, really messy and, if you can believe it or not, one man here told me that everything happened within an hour and a half.

Take a look when we say everything.


ELAM (voice-over): Raging monsoon waters flooded parts of the Phoenix area on Sunday. Leading firefighters to a series of dramatic rescues caught on camera, at least half a dozen people brought to safety.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is pretty bad. I mean, I think the worst I have seen so far. I've lived here for three years.

ELAM: Emergency crews braved the thigh high flash floodwaters that swallowed whole cars in its wake, one rescue after another after another. Watch as emergency crews rush to the aid of these two 19- year-old boys in Apache Junction who crawled out of their submerged SUV to a small patch of land nearby.

LON EDER, MESA FIRE DEPARTMENT: At that point their natural instinct is to get out of the vehicle. At that point they're going with the flow of the water, which is very powerful.

ELAM: A helicopter hovers above, lowering a harness, lifting one of the teenagers across the rising waters to safety. The second snaps pictures of the scene even appearing to take a self-portrait mid rescue.

Firefighters conducting rescues by air and land, lowering a ladder from a fire truck to rescue this couple stuck in a pickup truck for nearly an hour before following a safety line to land.

And just west in Scottsdale, a firefighter carries this woman to dry land as the water consumes her car.

A similar fate for this Corvette, carried some 100 yards by the floodwaters. The driver, rescued.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He got out of the vehicle and was sitting on top of it. The water was so high that you couldn't see the vehicle at all.


ELAM: And as we come back out here live, you can see there's still some muddy water out here. Lots of thick mud puddles around. So, the neighbors are out here cleaning up, but they did say the water came in, rushed down off the mountains to the washes and was gone in an hour and a half. And the good news, Carol, nobody was injured.

COSTELLO: That is the best news. Stephanie Elam reporting live, thanks so much.

The officer, the Boston police officer who leaked photos of the Boston bombing suspect taken right after his capture could lose his job. Not if the city of Boston had anything to do about it. We're going to talk to that officer's lawyer, next.


COSTELLO: Massachusetts State Police Sergeant Sean P. Murphy might lose his job after taking those photos taken shortly after the Boston bombing capture. Those grisly photos you saw. Murphy says he leaked the photos in response to a "Rolling Stone" cover featuring the bombing suspect in what some call a rock star pose.

Murphy sent the photos to "Boston Magazine" along with a statement which he called the "Rolling Stone" cover an insult to the survivors of the April 15th bombing.

Now, there's a Facebook page to save the police officer's job called Save Sergeant Sean Murphy which as of this morning has nearly 4,000 likes.

Sergeant Murphy's attorney, Leonard Kesten, joins me now live from Boston.

Good morning, sir.


COSTELLO: Did you expect so much support for your client?

KESTEN: I'm not surprised. He did the right thing. I'm not surprised. He's gotten a lot of support from victims' families who have reached out to him.

COSTELLO: And what are the victims' families saying?

KESTEN: I'm not surprised that the public supports him. Thanking him. Thanking him for having the courage to do this. To, you know, the fact that this kid was put on the cover of "Rolling Stone" as a rock star offends all the victims, people involved in the process and it could lead to copycat the situations.

COSTELLO: So, Sergeant Murphy is now suspended, right? Could he really lose his job over this?

KESTEN: We hope not. We have a lot of faith in the state police administrative system. And we shall see what they do. I certainly hope he doesn't. I hope they recognize 25 years of service and the fact that he did this from the heart.

COSTELLO: Were these personal photos he took or were these like official police photos?

KESTEN: Well, he was there in his official capacity as a state police photographer. So, these are official photos, but, as you may know, there were photos taken by other officers that were put out there. Out there in the public of this terrorist being arrested.

COSTELLO: Still, it was against the rules for him to do this because these photos may be entered into evidence at trial and there are many people saying that, hey, this could, this could ruin the case. This could affect the case. This could cause a problem with seating a fair and impartial jury.

KESTEN: I have been doing this for a long time. I do a lot of trials. The notion that these photographs will affect the trial is a joke. Of course, it's not going to affect the trial. This man was captured live on TV with helicopter shots of him in the boat. They real released video of him and it is simply not true.

COSTELLO: But, you don't want to take a chance, especially if you're in law enforcement, right?

KESTEN: These photographs have nothing to do with his trial or his prosecution. It really doesn't. I understand the rules. I understand why the people in charge are upset about it, but there's no chance -- Sergeant Murphy would do anything to jeopardize the prosecution. He just wouldn't.

COSTELLO: So, where does this case stand now? When will the decision be made as to whether any further punitive action will be taken?

KESTEN: Well, that's up, that's up to the state police. We have a meeting tomorrow, an initial meeting with them but that's up to the administration. As of now, I'm not aware of what charges they may bring.

COSTELLO: So, Sergeant Murphy is just waiting.

KESTEN: Sergeant Murphy and I and Dana Pullman, the president of the state police association are waiting to hear from the state police. But we do have a meeting at headquarters tomorrow with the sergeant and, at that point, I assume we'll be enlightened.\

COSTELLO: So, if the worst happens and Sergeant Murphy is fired, do you think he'll still think this was worth it?

KESTEN: Without question. Sergeant Murphy is a veteran and he knew what he was doing and he told me last night that, you know, the blood inside of him is state police blue, but he bleeds red and he was bleeding for these victims and that he understood that there might be ramifications, but he thought it had to be done and it has a accomplished what he wanted, which is the victims and the survivors have had their pain in ease.

COSTELLO: All right. Leonard Kesten, thank you so much for joining us this morning. We appreciate it.

KESTEN: Any time, take care.

COSTELLO: You, too.

Still ahead in NEWSROOM, the crowd grows and anticipation builds at Buckingham Palace. We'll have she has been in labor for nine hours now? We're watching. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COSTELLO: Good morning. Thank you so much for being with me. I'm Carol Costello. Stories we're watching right now THE NEWSROOM. Thirty minutes past the hour, investors are waiting for more earnings announcement this week.