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Potential Abduction Suspect Hospitalized

Aired August 28, 2002 - 10:21   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: We've got an update on another missing child case: the disappearance of Elizabeth Smart.
Prison officials in Salt Lake City say former family handyman, Richard Ricci, is hospitalized this morning, after reporting breathing problems last night. The cause is not known yet.

Police have described Ricci as a potential suspect in the abduction of Elizabeth Smart, who was taken at gunpoint from her bedroom more than three months ago.

Now, for the latest on this developing story, let's check in with reporter Karen Scullin of CNN affiliate, KSL -- Karen.

KAREN SCULLIN, CNN AFFILIATE KSL REPORTER: Well, last night, the prognosis for Richard Ricci was very, very grim. They were giving him less than 24 hours to live.

However, things have changed overnight. He underwent some surgery to release some bleeding on his brain, in and around his brain. And now, doctors are hopeful that he will actually survive.

However, he is still hooked up to life support, he is still unconscious, and he has been that way since about 7:15 last night.

Now, here is what happened. It was about just after 7:00. He was inside his prison cell at the Utah State Prison here. He called for help. He reported that he was having trouble breathing, and that he was having headaches.

The security came to his aid, found him collapsed on the floor. He was not breathing at that time.

They immediately started CPR, and then called for a life flight helicopter to bring him here to University Medical Center. He has been here all night long. I know his wife, Angela, is in there with him.

Again, he underwent surgery overnight to release some bleeding on his brain. The prognosis is good. However, if he does survive -- his condition is unknown at this point, if he would have any -- suffer any brain damage or any anything else -- paralysis.

And clearly, detectives, who believe that he is, in fact, lying about his involvement in the kidnapping case, they need him to be alert and to talk.

So we'll keep you posted.

Reporting live from Salt Lake City, Utah, I'm Karen Scullin -- back to you.

LIN: All right, thank you very much, Karen.

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