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Carbon Monoxide Poisoning at Restaurant; Ukraine's Ousted President Flees Kiev; Supreme Court Faces Controversial Faces

Aired February 23, 2014 - 08:00   ET


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you so much for starting your morning with us.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Much more ahead an NEW DAY. The 8:00 hour starts now.


PAUL: And hey, let's rise and shine and show Sunday what we're made of. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell.

Ease into it. Don't rush, just ease into it, 8:00 as we said here on the East Coast, 5:00 out West.

And we're starting this morning on New York's Long Island.

PAUL: Yes. A carbon monoxide poisoning left a restaurant manager dead. This happened around dinner time last night at Legal Seafoods, at the Walt Whitman Mall in Huntington Station in New York. And we know nearly 30 others were sicken.

BLACKWELL: Alexandra Field is outside the mall.

Alexandra, tell us what we've learned about this investigation so far?


Well, Christi, Victor, good morning.

Investigators have been focused on trying to find the source of that leak and they believe that they found it in the basement of this Legal Seafood Restaurant behind me. Building has now been condemned for occupancy as this investigation continues.


FIELD (voice-over): The investigation this morning by homicide and arson detectives centers on Legal Sea Foods heating equipment, the apparent source of deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is scary that we were just sitting there.

FIELD: Cathy Sila (ph) and Ashley Harper were at Cheesecake Factory at the Walt Whitman Mall in Huntington, New York, when the wait staff told the entire restaurant to get out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were sitting at the bar, we were having a glass of wine and somebody came over, I think one of the waitresses. She said you had to leave.

FIELD: Police and emergency responders were called to the mall after a report that a woman had fallen and hit her head in the basement of legal sea foods. When authorities arrived and began investigating, they themselves reported feeling nauseated and dizzy, symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure. Restaurants in the area were immediately evacuated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had to leave, because I didn't want to blow up or anything like that. So, I didn't know how dangerous it was and they just told us to stay outside.

FIELD: Emergency crews found Legal Seafoods' manager 55-year-old Steven Nelson unconscious in the basement. He was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. More than two dozen other victims, including seven first responders were also sickened by the gas and had to be taken to area hospitals with nonlife threatening symptoms.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, I think that's scary that we were in the same building.


FIELD: And Legal Seafoods took to Twitter to offer condolences to Steven Nelson's family. The restaurant also said on Twitter that they are devastated by the news of this leak -- Victor, Christi.

PAUL: Alexandra, do we know anything about those other 30 victims and how they are this morning?

FIELD: They were taken to a number of different local hospitals here on Long Island. We've heard back from some of the hospitals it morning that say that almost all of the patients were treated and released. We know that four of those patients were ambulance personnel, three of them were police officers. Police who are out here say that overwhelmingly the victims were actually staff members of the Legal Seafoods restaurant.

BLACKWELL: So, this one restaurant, as you said, has that condemned sign on it, but it is connected to a mall. Sunday is a shopping day for a lot of people.

What's the concern that other areas, other stores in that mall, will be affected?

FIELD: Well, right now police are saying it appears that this leak was really confined just to the basement of the Legal Seafoods and that's why we're seeing that notice that it's been condemned on the door. The restaurant is attached to two other restaurants -- Cheesecake Factory and a Panera here. Those restaurants were both evacuated but police say that was really a precaution at the time because they didn't know where the leak was coming from or how far it could spread.

BLACKWELL: Well, Alexandra Field there for us at Huntington Station, New York for us -- thank you.

One of the most dangerous and violent men in the world is in jail after nearly 13 years of a manhood hunt. A joint operation by Mexican and American officials led to Joaquin El Chapo Guzman's capture yesterday. He escaped from a high-security prison in a laundry cart in 2001. Guzman and his cartel are blamed for assassinating journalists, executing police officers, stuffing bodies in garbage bags.

Attorney General Eric Holder calls Guzman's arrest a landmark achievement and he said -- this is a quote -- the criminal activity Guzman allegedly directed contributed to the death and destruction of millions of lives across the globe through drug addiction, violence and corruption. We salute the government of Mexico and the professionalism and the courage of the Mexican authorities for this arrest.

PAUL: Meanwhile, just 24 hours ago, he was president of a country and now no one knows where he is.

BLACKWELL: Yes, we're talking about ousted Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych. A top minister says his whereabouts are currently unknown. That's how he characterized it. This is surveillance video that we believe shows him leaving his mansion in the dead of night.

Now, CNN has not confirmed its authenticity.

PAUL: We do know huge crowds are still filling Kiev's Independence Square even at this hour.

I want to show you a live picture here from the Ukrainian capital.

CNN's Phil Black is joining us from Kiev in a couple of moments.

Spring, meanwhile, is just around the corner. Even though it doesn't feel like it this week. Another surge of Arctic air may be moving towards. We're talking New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago. Bone-cold temps. Again.

BLACKWELL: Just what we need!

PAUL: Come on.

BLACKWELL: Meanwhile, there's more snow in the forecast for the West. Parts of Montana and the Rockies could get up to a foot of snow.

PAUL: So, just hunker down. We want to make sure that you are in the know so you can take care of yourself.

BLACKWELL: Coming up on NEW DAY, a lot of airplane passengers hate it -- absolutely hate it -- turbulence in the middle of a fight. Of course we know it could be inconvenient. Also very dangerous. Find out if there is any way the pilots can avoid it.


PAUL: The mystery right now is where is the -- can we call him former president of Ukraine? We do know where all of the people who want him out are -- right there. You are looking at it live, Independence Square in Kiev.

BLACKWELL: CNN's Phil Black joins us now live from Kiev as well.

So, last word, the president was in a pro-Russian stronghold. Is there any evidence -- any reporting that he's still there?

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Victor, that's the last we heard. The new government that's forming here says they actually don't know where he is. Yesterday we saw him on television in the city of Kharkhiv near the Russian border saying he would hold on to the presidency an keep fighting, but contradicting that last night, the Ukrainian border agency says he tried to board a charter plane to flee the country but he didn't have the right documents so he wasn't allowed to leave.

But will he stay, will he go? That's going to play a big role in determining the immediate future of this country.

PAUL: All right. So, Phil, let me ask you. There were protesters in the streets just 48 hours ago. One of them saying as long as Yanukovych is president, the movement will continue. Well, now, we don't know if he's president.

What is the mood like there now that it seems the opposition has gotten what they wanted?

BLACK: It is really somber. It is really sad. There are no celebrations here despite the incredibly fast-moving events over the last 24 hours, historic events really. And those that have really strengthened the position of the opposition, they're not celebrating because they are still very much thinking about mourning, the many people who were gunned down on the streets around this square just a few days ago.

PAUL: All right. Phil Black, thank you so much. Boy, for keeping us apprised of all the fast-moving stories there for the last few hours. Thank you.


PAUL: All right. Let's look at the science behind turbulence. Federal investigators are launching this formal probe now into an incident this past week involving a United Airlines plane. BLACKWELL: Three crew members and two passengers were hurt when the plane began violently shaking mid-air. One woman said her head hit the ceiling and actually cracked it.

CNN's Jennifer Gray has more on that scary flight.


JENNIFER GRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nothing could have prepared the passengers on United Flight 1676, a nightmare at 34,000 feet, high above the Rocky Mountains.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was a lady behind me that was yelling "My baby, my baby," so I could just assume that she had an infant in her arms and let go of it.

GRAY: The plane carrying 114 passengers and five crew members encountered severe turbulence, so strong it plunged.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was just instantaneous, everything that everybody had in their hand were flying through the air. People were screaming.

GRAY: According to the latest numbers from the FAA, 329 people were injured due to turbulence between 2002 and 2011. So what's the science behind turbulence, and is there anything anyone can do to avoid it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Air flows just like water does and it can flow smoothly or it can have interruptions in that flow. It can be caused by mountains, it can be caused by thunderstorms, passage of fronts, or just be a small localized area, what's typically called clear-air turbulence.

GRAY: The United flight was flying over the Rocky Mountains, a common spot for what's called Mountain wave turbulence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The turbulence caused by those mountains can reach well above the height of the mountains themselves and cause the air to tumble and roll and create turbulence.

GRAY: Turbulence can also be triggered by thunderstorms, even when the skies are clear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Convective turbulence is caused by rising hot air, typical everywhere especially in the summertime when the ground is warm and hot air is rising.

UNITED AIRLINES PILOT: We'll take runway 28 if we can United flight 1676.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Turbulence is very erratic, very spotty, so it could be that if they were at this very same location, even ten minutes later, it may not have been a severe event.

GRAY: But that doesn't change things for the passengers of United flight 1676 who had a flight they will never forget.

Jennifer Gray, CNN, Atlanta.


PAUL: I'm still always impressed that pilots can get control back.

BLACKWELL: I hate turbulence. I can't stand it. Another gin and tonic, three limes, please.

PAUL: Oh, boy.

BLACKWELL: Still to come on NEW DAY, the Supreme Court has a docket full of controversial cases ahead -- gun rights expansion, executive power of the president. We'll run down the list.

PAUL: And the first openly gay NFL prospect faces the media. We'll tell you what he had to say.


PAUL: Eighteen minutes past the hour right now. And, you know, all the time, you heard about the problems in Washington, the gridlock, the failure to compromise, the lobbyists, the wheeling and dealing. But some people say the nation's governors are the answer to fixing Washington.

BLACKWELL: Yes. And four governors will join CNN next hour on "STATE OF THE UNIION WITH CANDY CROWLEY": Republican Rick Perry of Texas, Mike Pence of Indiana, Democrat Stan Malloy of Connecticut and Jay Nixon of Missouri.

Host and chief political correspondent Candy Crowley is live in Washington.

Candy, what solutions can the governors offer?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Really, one of the solutions, whether they are Democrats or Republicans, that they offer is can we have sort of a minimal stay out of the way, federal government, we'll call you when we need you.

Historically, governors have always complained about unfunded mandates, that means things the federal government tells them to do that cost money but they don't have the money to do it.

Remember, these are folks that have to balance their budgets so they're used to making cuts, they're used to raising taxes. I will tell you that all of these governors will have different solutions for how to increase the number of jobs that are available, what should be done about gun control, what should be done about the death penalty, should it stay, should it go, because they all have very different states.

So, it's not that they all have one solution, but they all have one problem from time to time and that is a federal government that they think ought to let them take the lead while they deal with what's in their states.

PAUL: Going to be interesting to see what they all have to say.

Candy, thank you so much.

CROWLEY: Thanks.

PAUL: And remember, you can watch Candy's interview with all four governors on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION". It's next hour, starting at 9:00 a.m. Eastern.

OK. So, let's keep it in Washington right now -- busy week ahead for the Supreme Court. This week the justices decide which cases they'll hear this session.

BLACKWELL: Yes, and issue rulings that could affect policy across the country.

Let's go to Athena Jones for a preview.


ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There's no shortage of controversy before the court.

On Monday, the justices could decide to take cases that could significantly expand gun rights. The National Rifle Association is challenging a Texas conceal/carry law that bans anyone under 21 from carrying guns in public. The NRA argues the second amendment right of self-defense extends to responsible 18 to 20 year-olds as well, and the NRA is appealing a federal ban on selling handguns to minor saying that also violates Second Amendment rights.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After the Supreme Court recognized the individual right to have guns, the question became what type of limitations could be put on that right.

JONES: Also on Monday, the court hears a case that could test the limits of President Obama's push to use his executive power when congress won't act. This time on climate change. At issue, whether the EPA went too far when wouldn't congressional approval, it limited carbon emissions from power plants, factories and other sources of greenhouse gases beyond cars and trucks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the constitutional side, this is a classic conflict between Congress and the White House. The Congress has refused to give the president what he wants and now the EPA is going it alone.

JONES: And later this week, the court could get involved in the latest challenge to the death penalty. Early Thursday, Missouri is planning to execute Michael Taylor by lethal injection. He was convicted of raping and murdering a 15-year-old girl. But the state is refusing to reveal which drugs it would use after witnesses said another lethal drug mix in Ohio took some ten minutes to work on convicted killer Dennis McGuire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Many defense attorneys have said that that raises the question of cruel and unusual punishment.

JONES: Critics say Missouri has been in a rush to execute. It carried out one recent lethal injection just minutes before the U.S. Supreme Court could rule on a last-second appeal.

Athena Jones, CNN, Washington.


BLACKWELL: Still to come on NEW DAY, the first openly gay NFL prospect took on the media this weekend opening up, answering tough questions and letting the world know that he's not afraid of what awaits him in the NFL. You're going to hear his own words after this.


BLACKWELL: Michael Sam's historic journey to become the NFL's first openly gay player makes its first stop at the league's scouting combine.

PAUL: Yes, the former Missouri star shined when stepping in front of the media telling the world, look, I am not afraid of what awaits me and that he'd play for any team in the NFL.


MICHAEL SAM, FORMER MISSOURI STAR: Good afternoon, my name is Michael Sam and I play football for the University of Missouri. Heck, yeah, I wish you guys would just say, Michael Sam, how's football going? How's training going?

I would love for to you ask me that question. But it is what it is and I just wish you guys would see me as Michael Sam, the football player, instead of Michael Sam, the gay football player. I just want to do what I love to do, that's play football.

If Miami Dolphins drafted me, I would be excited to be a part of that organization. But I'm not afraid about going into that environment. I know how to handle myself. I know how to communicate with my teammates. I know how to communicate with the coaches and other staff, whoever I need to communicate with.

I've been in locker rooms where all kinds of slurs been said, you know? And I don't think anyone means it. I think a little not even uneducated but, you know, as time goes on, everyone will adapt.

If someone wants to call me a name, I'll have a conversation with that guy and hopefully won't lead to nothing else. Since I'm not on an NFL active roster right now, that is my only thought is to be on that roster. And so, that's my 100 percent focus on this.

I'm not focusing on anything else but to earn my spot on an NFL team. I love my fans. I love Mizzou, one of the best schools out in the nation. And then after what they did this past weekend was just amazing. I wanted to cry but I'm like, I'm a man

So I didn't -- so I just -- I want to thank everyone who supports me and especially Mizzou, the students, my coaches, the whole organization and every Missouri fan. Mizzou, I'm a tiger forever.


BLACKWELL: Must-see moment now. This one is blowing up online, has been all week. OK, maybe you missed it.

PAUL: I know you're familiar with the kiss cam at stadiums around the country, right? Bit of a lesson here. If you take your brother or sister to a hockey game, be prepared. Adam Martin in Minneapolis was. There he is sitting with his younger sister, Maria, when he did this.

Where is it? Here it comes. Because you know everybody's watching this. They're just waiting for them to kiss. You're like, what are you going to do?

BLACKWELL: It's not going to happen.

PAUL: Sorry, folks, this is my sister. Simple but said it all, and it turned them into an instant YouTube sensation.

Finally to Finland, and an effort to help prevent accidents involving reindeer.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Take a look, reindeers in Lapland region that claims to be the home of Santa Claus are spraying the antlers with glow-in-the-dark liquid to make them more visible to drivers. It's still in a test phase. But if it works they hope to treat all reindeer in the region.

And officials say there are between 3,000 and 5,000 accidents involving reindeer every year.

PAUL: That would be something to see, but I hope it is safe for the reindeer. The first thing I thought of, is it OK for them.

BLACKWELL: The other thing about reindeer, it is not just that they're just standing in the road , they dart out of the forest. So, hopefully this helps in some small way.

PAUL: Yes. We are so glad that you spent some time with us today. Make some great memories.

BLACKWELL: And we're going to see you next weekend.

Right now, stay tuned for "INSIDE POLITICS WITH JOHN KING". It starts right now.