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"Duck Dynasty" Season Finale; Family Members Searching Landslide Path; Interview with Heidi Snow: Surviving a Sudden Loss

Aired March 26, 2014 - 08:30   ET


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: And welcome back to NEW DAY at half past the hour. Let's get straight to Christine Romans for the five things you need to know for your new day.


Five - time now for those five things for your new day.

Number one, breaking news in the search for Flight 370. One hundred and twenty-two pieces of possible debris spotted by satellites Sunday. They were in the same vicinity where the search is focused.

A grim search at the scene of a mudslide north of Seattle, Washington. The death toll now as high as 24, with more than 170 people still listed as missing and unaccounted for.

Number three, a little breathing room for Monday's Obamacare deadline. Some people could get extra time to enroll. They have to prove that technical problems kept them from finishing up on time.

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Germany's so-called bling bishop. He has been accused of squandering $42 million to build a new lavish compound and support his extravagant lifestyle.

King Digital begins trading today on the New York Stock Exchange. The mobile game maker behind the addictive Candy Crush app priced its IPO at $22.50 a share. The list of risks in its securities filing, 24 pages long.

We're always updating the five things you need to know, so go to for the very latest. I got it.

PEREIRA: (INAUDIBLE). Are you a Candy Crush gal or Words with Friends gal?

ROMANS: I'm still using the abacus. I don't really do those kind of thing (ph).

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The Commodore 64 doesn't have either game that she uses, so, you know.

ROMANS: The Apple 2E, the Apple 2E --

PEREIRA: We must get her an upgrade.

BERMAN: Definitely (ph).

ROMANS: Pong is fantastic, I hear.

PEREIRA: Thanks, Christine.

Well, fans of "Duck Dynasty" are gearing up for tonight's season finale. You'll recall the reality series came under the microscope this year following inflammatory comments from one of its stars, Phil Robertson. He made headlines with remarks many people called racially insensitive and anti-gay. But, we know Robertson has a legion of defenders. First on that list, son and co-star Willie Robertson. He and his wife Korie met with Kyra Phillips, who is at the CNN Center with more.

Hello, my dear.


I'll tell you what, it was quite a day. And the Robertson family unapologetic about their beliefs. I'm just going to lay that out. And they're very, very grateful for their success. They talk a lot about it. But one thing Willie and Korie did tell me, if it all went away tomorrow, they'd be just fine.


WILLIE ROBERTSON, STAR OF "DUCK DYNASTY": The backwoods of Louisiana is now home to a new breed of millionaire, my family.

PHILLIPS (voice-over): "Duck Dynasty's" Robertson clan is in many ways the first family of the bayou, or at least of West Monroe, Louisiana.

PHILLIPS (on camera): All right. So I might as well just break the ice and let y'all know we have a lot in common.


PHILLIPS: Oh, yes. Now, I know my way around a weapon or two, but I'm married to a Robertson.




PHILLIPS: So are we family?

K. ROBERTSON: Probably.

W. ROBERTSON: He - I know he's not kin to me, because he hasn't asked me for money. All the ones that are kin to me have asked me for money, so.

PHILLIPS (voice-over): The Robertson's hunting gear company, Duck Commander and Buck Commander, have grown into a multi-million dollar empire. And their hit show, "Duck Dynasty," has earned the top ranking as the most watched reality show in cable history. The Robertson family is known for being deeply rooted in their faith.

W. ROBERTSON: Father, we're so thankful for everything you've given us.

PHILLIPS: The couple, now appearing in a new movie called "God's Not Dead."

W. ROBERTSON: Hi. We're not trying to offend anybody, all right? If they don't want to watch the show, they can turn the channel.

PHILLIPS (on camera): Willie, prove to me God is not dead.

W. ROBERTSON: I think the whole part of that movie is that you can't prove it. It's going to - it's something that you have to live out, which is faith.

K. ROBERTSON: You can't prove it totally, but you can't disprove it either, so.

PHILLIPS: (voice-over): Tonight marks the end of the fifth season of "Duck Dynasty," airing in the wake of the firestorm surrounding Willie's father, Phil.


PHILLIPS: Phil spoke with "GQ" magazine, answering a question about sin this way. "Don't be deceived. Neither the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the drunkards, they won't inherit the kingdom of God. It's not right."

That comment, in addition to another about race in the pre-civil rights era, drew fierce criticism. A&E suspended Phil from the show for about a week after that article hit newsstands.

PHILLIPS (on camera): You said you wanted to clear the air about daddy Phil. Go for it.

W. ROBERTSON: Oh, my father, he made -- he made Christmas very interesting for us. I remember doing that interview and this guy, I think he already had what he wanted to put and he was certainly, you know, asking specifically this and that and Phil just said what he thought -- you know, what was on his heart. And, you know, he didn't say it quite -- you know, he did some paraphrasing there and -

PHILLIPS: Well, let's lay it out. He paraphrased 1 Corinthians, right, where it talks about homosexuals, male prostitutes, drunkards -

W. ROBERTSON: Thieves and -

PHILLIPS: Yes, thieves -


PHILLIPS: That they're all the same. Is that what you believe? W. ROBERTSON: That's what 1 Corinthians says and so and he prayed -

PHILLIPS: What does Willie say?

W. ROBERTSON: He prayed -- well, I believe what the Bible says, and so that's what he says to put those in. Now, you know, you have to read the Bible and make - you know, make up your own mind. You have to decide and God will ultimately decide that. And I -- we don't profess to be God and we certainly don't profess to be perfect at all, because we have our own sins that we deal with.

K. ROBERTSON: Anybody - anybody who knows him, any gay, straight, black, white, anybody who knows Phil knows that he is about love and his message is about God's love and God's grace and God's forgiveness ultimately.

PHILLIPS: And for him and for you, the Bible is literal. That's how it is, right?

W. ROBERTSON: That's how it was said, yes.

K. ROBERTSON: Yes. Uh-huh.

PHILLIPS (voice-over): The Robertsons are now halfway through shooting season six.

W. ROBERTSON: You know, after all the controversy, now that we're back to (INAUDIBLE), I think we appreciate now being back to work. And so everybody's really happy and they're, you know --

K. ROBERTSON: We took a little break for hunting season and, you know, got some time off and it's good for everybody.

PHILLIPS: So shooting this show doesn't get in the way of hunting season?





W. ROBERTSON: Not shooting the show.

K. ROBERTSON: We're not shooting now -

W. ROBERTSON: But all the rest that comes along.

PHILLIPS (voice-over): So, we tried to give Willie some of that hunting time back, at least in the practice range.

W. ROBERTSON: We are locked and loaded.

PHILLIPS (on camera): OK. W. ROBERTSON: Here we go.

PHILLIPS: Oh, boy.

W. ROBERTSON: All right.

PHILLIPS: How'd I do?

W. ROBERTSON: Let's see how -- where you were aiming.


W. ROBERTSON: Middle dot. Middle dot.

PHILLIPS: Oh, I was aiming for the center. That's not bad.

W. ROBERTSON: Not bad.


W. ROBERTSON: You're about, what's that, two and a half inches off.


W. ROBERTSON: Pretty good. Pretty good for your first crossbow shot.

PHILLIPS: If this all goes away tomorrow, be honest with me, how does that hit the heart?

W. ROBERTSON: Oh, I'd be -

K. ROBERTSON: Totally fine.

W. ROBERTSON: Totally fine, yes.

K. ROBERTSON Totally fine, yes. We were happy before it. We'll be happy after it. If this is it, this is it. We had a good run.

W. ROBERTSON: We were able to use that platform to get out God's message.


W. ROBERTSON: And if it ended right there, it ended right there. And I felt like that was pretty much what God prepared us to do.


PHILLIPS: You know, guys, one thing that really stood out to me as a mom, I mean, this couple is definitely doing something right with their five kids. They've got three biological, two adopted. They're involved in this orphanage. And these kids have fame, money, everything at their fingertips. And I said, how do you keep those kids grounded? How do you keep them from being a Justin Bieber and Lindsay Lohan? And, bottom line, they love - they love family and their faith is number one. And you look at those kids and go, wow, all right, you definitely are doing something right.

BERMAN: You know, I'm going to agree with whatever you say because I saw what you did with that crossbow right now. So, I'm not about to disagree.

PHILLIPS: Hey, he told me I could bring home turkey dinner with that shot. That's all that matters. I've just got to learn how to deep fry.

PEREIRA: You'll bring home a whole lot more than just turkey dinner. I'm afraid of you, Kyra. I am afraid of you. You have my utmost respect always.

PHILLIPS: I love you.

PEREIRA: All right, really good conversation. Thanks so much for bringing it to us. Thank you.

PHILLIPS: You bet.

BERMAN: All right, next up for us on NEW DAY, the family members of Flight 370, they're starting to deal with the awful reality that their loved ones may be gone. We will speak with a woman who lost her fiancee in a different disaster and hear her advice. It's coming up next.


PEREIRA: Want to take you to Washington state this morning. The intense search continues. There are 170 people still considered missing after a catastrophic landslide. We know the death toll now is as high as 24. Joining us now is Dayn Brunner. His sister, Summer Raffo (ph), is among the missing.

Dayn, we want to say good morning to you. Doesn't feel like a good morning, I'm sure. How you doing today?

DAYN BRUNNER, SEARCHING FOR SISTER IN WASHINGTON LANDSLIDE: It's day five and we're still going. We're still going.

PEREIRA: You still are going. Give us an idea of a little bit about Summer and where she was when the last time she was seen.

BRUNNER: She left her house, which is right next door to my parents' house, at 10:30 a.m., exactly 10:30 a.m. Saturday morning. She was headed to a farm that is owned by some family friends about 22 miles away from the house or so.


BRUNNER: And she -- she was driving to that house to shoe a horse, because she has a part-time job of -- she's a ferrier. It's one of her three jobs that she does. So she shoes horses for a living. She was headed there. And she -- the estimates put the slide happening at 10:47 a.m., which would have put her right in the area at the exact time of the occurrence of the slide.

PEREIRA: So it's thought she might have been driving?

BRUNNER: If she was driving on the road -- oh, yes, she was driving. She was driving. She doesn't live anywhere down there or doesn't really know anyone as far as houses in the 35 houses that were consumed by this. So she was driving down to there about eight miles past the slide area to go to a farm to shoe a horse and she never made it. Never made it to her destination.

PEREIRA: You were talking about those 35 houses that were consumed in that area. We're getting some images. We've seen some video. But you're right there on the ground. Tell us, have you been to the area? I imagine they're not letting you get that close. Give us an idea, paint a picture for us what it's like there.

BRUNNER: It's -- the area, it's absolutely chaotic destruction. It's devastation. It's -- you know, it's an area that I've driven through 25 years -- for the past 25 years and it's - it's so changed. And it's being out there on the ground is way, way, way different than what you're seeing from the air or even the shots from the viewpoint where the press is being allowed to see and look in from a bluff.

You can recognize some landmarks but you can't recognize, you know, 95 percent of them. And it's just horrible. It's all one color. It's dirt, sand, rock, trees, logs, debris, cars and all strewn out across about 1.5 by 1.5 square mile area. It's just horrific.

PEREIRA: That's what makes the search effort so difficult, because you don't have point of reference to know where to begin to search for structures that were once there, even roads and highways washed out.

BRUNNER: Yes. Right. Exactly. When we were in there on Monday we were in the heart of it and walking through and there were several times where I had to stop and get to a point and just try to get my bearings and know where I was at.


BRUNNER: Then you'd walk 25 feet and you'd still -- you'd be lost again. So it's just -- it's just undescribable.

PEREIRA: I know other family members and loved ones have been trying to get out there and search as well. The community we're told, we spoke to a family member of somebody else that is on the missing list, Ryan Neil was telling us about the community, real close knit community there in the Cascade Mountains. Are you getting the support you feel your family needs?

BRUNNER: Yes, absolutely. And it's not just from within this community, it's spread basically worldwide now. But you're right. I know Ryan and I know Ryan well and I'm right there with him. He's lost his father and I'm -- I'm -- I'm grieving right along with him and his family.

And he's right. It's tight knit. These guys in Darrington, we come together. There's people that -- from high above that they think can come in and kind of override what we're doing and it's not happening. But we -- we stick together up here, and these people, the Darrington families, community friends and stuff, the school and everybody, we're together in this and we've got the support that we've known that we would always have in the event like this, something that you never expected to happen.

PEREIRA: Something you never expect, never want to happen. We're going to keep hope alive with you -- hope for your sister Summer to be found and know that the nation is grieving with you guys, as well. All right. We want to say thank you to Dayn Brunner. Give our best to your mom as well.

BRUNNER: Thank you.

PEREIRA: We know it's a real struggle for her.

JOHN BERMAN: They're just sticking together. They're going to need each other, for sure.

PEREIRA: They are. And I'm from a small town, you know everybody and everybody knows you. And you know the neighboring communities. Yes, they stick together for sure.

BERMAN: We're going to talk about dealing with this kind of tragedy, dealing with this kind of emotion. Next up for us on NEW DAY, closure so hard to come by for the families of the victims of Flight 370. We're going to speak with someone who was once in the same situation and now offers support services to those in need.


PEREIRA: Welcome back.

For the families who had loved ones aboard Flight 370, it seems comfort is really hard to come by now that the Malaysian government has said everyone on board the jet was lost.

We want to bring in Heidi Snow. She's the founder of Access Airline Casualty Emotional Support Services. She lost her fiancee on TWA Flight 300. And she's the author of a book called, "Surviving Sudden Loss: Stories from those who have lived it". She joins us live this morning from San Francisco.

Heidi, good to see you again. I want to talk about some of the images that we're seeing on the screen. So much rage and anger and frustration from some of these family members directed to both Malaysian government and the Malaysian Airlines. Do you relate to that? Do you remember feeling that kind of rage and is this sort of a natural exhibition of emotion at this hour?

HEIDI SNOW, AUTHOR, "SURVIVING SUDDEN LOSS": Yes. I mean over the years we've received thousands of calls for help from -- over the last 17 years, and I have to say that at this point when the shock starts to subside and the reality sets in, it's an extremely difficult time.

One of the hardest things is that now people are going to really have to go home, resume their lives without their loved ones and face a completely new life. And that's one of the hardest things that I remember is when the family assistance center shut down in New York and his remains were still not found. And I had to go home and go back to life as normal, but it was not normal.

It's a completely new life. All of my -- my future was shattered and everything I had planned was not the same. And so basically you kind of have to start all over again and also start again with the grieving process without really having hope to hold on to. But also not really having concrete evidence either that they're gone. So there's still that moment of fluctuating back and forth.

PEREIRA: Right. Well, and I suppose one part of that --

SNOW: And still holding out some hope.

PEREIRA: One part of that is that you now have this new reality of living in the world, you know, going back to work or school and living your life again with the context of having lost this person and facing all those questions. And how are you and all of that emotion coming from people who are only just now dealing with their loss.

SNOW: Right, absolutely. And I think a lot of people will learn over time, people start to get uncomfortable with it. People who have not been through it before and that's --


SNOW: -- really what I found which is why I needed Access. I needed somebody else who got it and recognized my feelings that were, you know, to some people might seem irrational when you're going back and forth saying, well, maybe he survived. But all of us at Access know what that's like to think those thoughts and go through that.

And it's been extremely difficult.

PEREIRA: I want to get your take on the fact that Malaysian airlines had issued this text message to families. They had to opt in to receive the text message, but that was how they notified the families that they believe that the flight was lost in the Southern Indian Ocean.

You have a different take than a lot of other people on using this method of delivering this information to families. What is that?

SNOW: I just think the most important thing at this time is information, and if there is any way that the families can learn any new data before the rest of the world learns it, such as through the media, and if it comes directly from the source who's relaying the information and it goes to the families first, that is critical. And we found that over the years a big complaint has been it's difficult when the press knows information before we do sometimes.


SNOW: So hearing it directly from the prime minister and the airlines before it got out to the general public actually was really important. And if text is the means that it had to happen to be efficient, I believe it's really important.

Of course it would have been wonderful if each person could have had an individual greet them and discuss this with them but that's just not possible when there's a thousand people to address.

PEREIRA: In a perfect world this disaster wouldn't have happened in the first place.

Heidi Snow thanks so much for joining us with your perspective. You know that --

SNOW: Exactly. Thank you so much, Michaela.

PEREIRA: -- all too well. A real good conversation with you -- John.

BERMAN: Such an important perspective.

Coming up, we will have the very latest on the breaking news from the Southern Indian Ocean. This new satellite images -- possible objects there. Could they be from Flight 370? 122 objects possibly sighted. We'll tell you about them right after this.


PEREIRA: That's it for us on New Day. Time now for "NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello.

Good morning -- Carol.