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PAULA ZAHN NOW

Terror Threat Shuts Down Baltimore Tunnels; Police No Closer to Solving Northern California Murder; Florida Residents Eye Hurricane Wilma

Aired October 18, 2005 - 20:00   ET

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


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening, everyone. Glad you could join us tonight.
Among the stories we have for you tonight, a terrifying experience, something no patient on the operating table should ever have to go through.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN (voice-over): Awake during surgery. You're supposed to be unconscious.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was screaming inside: Stop. I'm awake.

Nobody is hearing me.

ZAHN: But what if you wake up under the knife?

The hilltop murder -- a star defense attorney whose wife was brutally beaten to death. What were their lives really like? And who would want to hurt them?

And a CNN exclusive, the beating that shocked a nation and shamed a police force.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was wondering what this man could have done, what horrid thing this man could have done, to deserve that.

ZAHN: Tonight, an eyewitness tells us what she saw.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Also ahead tonight, I want you to look at this amazing video, a burning car and a daring rescue in Sun Valley, California. Later, I will be talking with the first person on the scene, who took these incredible pictures.

But we begin tonight on the security watch with a story we have been covering all day -- in Baltimore, traffic tied up for miles, a major artery on the East Coast closed for almost two hours.

Check this out, all of it because of a terror threat. And, tonight, we have learned that federal agents have questioned people in connection with this threat.

Let's turn to Homeland Security correspondent Jeanne Meserve, who joins us now with the very latest.

So, how credible is this threat, Jeanne?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Paula, after dozens of interviews and other operations, counterterrorism officials tell CNN tonight that they do not believe that the threat information is credible.

CNN is told that the source of the original information was in the Netherlands. The information was passed to U.S. government officials last week by an informant, that informant someone who had provided some good information in the past.

As outlined by the informant, the threat this time talked of bringing explosives into Baltimore disguised as cocoa. It would be loaded onto trucks, those trucks driven -- at least one, perhaps more -- driven into an unspecified Baltimore tunnel. The alleged plot was said to involve a small group of Egyptians.

As a result of this threat information, you had the complete closure of one Baltimore tunnel for a couple hours today, the partial closure of another, and dozens of interviews connected by -- conducted by law enforcement. CNN is told tonight that there have been no terrorism arrests. There how -- have, however, been several people detained on immigration charges -- Paula.

ZAHN: But, Jeanne, you just mentioned these interviews that have been conducted. Is there anything that we have learned from those interviews?

MESERVE: All we have heard is that there appears to be no corroborating information that has been produced so far. But the interviews and the investigation are continuing.

ZAHN: All right.

So, this comes on the heels of the New York subway plot, which turned -- end -- ended up being a hoax. You also had a plane that was turned around on its way back from Burbank, California, because of a bomb threat. So, what are these things telling us, that we're getting increased intelligence, that it's bad?

MESERVE: Well, information is coming in all the time.

And information -- they're constantly sorting through it, trying to figure out what's credible and what's not. I talked to one terrorism analyst today, who said, he thinks what might be happening here, looking at New York and looking, again, at what happened today, that al Qaeda and its operatives may have got a line on something here, that, if they provide some information with some specificity, it may be enough to trigger a reaction in this country.

And that, of course, can send things into chaos, as it did today in Baltimore.

ZAHN: Jeanne Meserve, thanks so much for the update. Appreciate it.

MESERVE: Yes.

ZAHN: I want to turn now to the brutal murder of Pamela Vitale. She's the wife of a prominent defense attorney. His name is Daniel Horowitz.

It has been three days since her body was found in the couple's Northern California home. And, tonight, police are now indicating that they are no closer to solving the murder.

Let's check in with Ted Rowlands, who has been following the investigation. And he joins me now with all the latest details.

What's new?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Paula, all -- well, quite frankly, not much in terms of the investigation, at least not much that we are being told.

There's a clear difference as to the feel of the investigation today, compared to yesterday. There is no frenzied feeling here. It looks as though they may be in this for the long haul. They made no announcements, no public announcements, and said they will not update the press until they have something significant. And they don't see that in the near future.

One person we talked to today that is very happy with the investigation is Daniel Horowitz. We spent some time with him at his Oakland office this morning. He says he's extremely pleased with the investigation, saying that sheriff's deputies are working around the clock. He was in his office checking e-mails and answering some phone calls.

It was very emotional. He broke down a few times, reading some of the e-mails that he was getting. Quite frankly, he seemed to still be in a state of shock about this. One thing he did not want to talk to us about was Joseph Lynch. This is the neighbor that lived on Horowitz's estate that was the subject of a restraining order sought by Horowitz and his wife in June of this year.

In that restraining order, Horowitz had described Joseph Lynch as dangerous, saying, at one point, -- quote -- "He is presently using methamphetamine and drinking heavily. And, during these periods, he is delusional, threatening, violent and dangerous."

Well, Lynch, we talked to today. And he says: Yes, I was addicted to drugs. I had some major problems, but I am sober now. And he said -- quote -- to CNN: "I did not do it. I am innocent. I did not go on the premises," talking about Saturday, the day of the murder.

Investigators say Lynch has been very cooperative. They say Horowitz has been cooperative. And they have no new news as to the case tonight.

ZAHN: How many times...

ROWLANDS: Paula.

ZAHN: ... has Daniel Horowitz been questioned now by authorities?

ROWLANDS: We know at least once. And he continues to be described as very cooperative.

Today, we were with Daniel Horowitz for a good portion of the morning, and then in the afternoon. It didn't seem as though he was questioned today at all. There were some reports that he might have been questioned again. We have not confirmed that. And, quite frankly, I don't think that's true.

But investigators say he has been questioned and has been extremely cooperative.

ZAHN: Ted Rowlands, thanks so much.

And my next guest happens to be a longtime friend of Daniel Horowitz. Steve Mendelson met Horowitz in his early days as a young lawyer. And they have come to know each other well, including each (AUDIO GAP) spouses.

Steve Mendelson joins me now from San Francisco.

Good of you to join us.

STEVE MENDELSON, FRIEND OF DANIEL HOROWITZ: Good evening...

ZAHN: I know that...

MENDELSON: ... Paula.

ZAHN: Good evening -- that -- that your friend has spent his adult life defending the accused. What is it like for him now to have the spotlight shining on him as a result of his wife's brutal murder?

MENDELSON: Well, Dan's initial reaction is a great sense of ambiguity and a disturbed sense, because, of course, he is a defense attorney.

And, then, to have this happen to him, it is sort of a horrible, horrible irony. And, in his present state of mind, at least as it's been for the last few days, I don't think he could defend an accused defendant because of the emotions he has.

ZAHN: Sure. And you say it's a horrible irony...

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: ... because he's spent his professional career defending the accused.

And I think we need to make it clear to the public, the reason why investigators are talking to him, in -- in any homicide, they -- they immediately question the -- the spouse of -- of the slain person.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: So, there's nothing unusual here.

Nevertheless, it's a -- it's a position he obviously has never been in before. It's got to be very strange.

MENDELSON: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

MENDELSON: I will tell you, Paula, they had a storybook romance.

It -- it's just the -- the -- the greatest relationship I have ever seen in my life, certainly for anyone of our generation. And their commitment to one another and their love for one another was overwhelming. And this is just a horrible, horrible...

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: Has Mr. Horowitz mentioned to you what he thinks might have happened?

MENDELSON: Yes. He has certain ideas, certain suppositions, based on the physical evidence at the scene and knowing Pamela.

I think it would be inappropriate for me to really talk about it at this time, because, as the investigation is ongoing, anything I say could perhaps prejudice witnesses and/or a suspect. And I...

(CROSSTALK)

MENDELSON: I just don't want to...

ZAHN: All right.

MENDELSON: ... talk about that.

ZAHN: And, Steve, if I'm out of line here, you tell me, because it's my last question. Are you able to even characterize if -- if -- if these people he's talking about are -- are people who might have known either him or his wife?

MENDELSON: Yes, they -- they are.

They're -- as a -- as a criminal defense lawyer, there are people throughout one's career that one may not have had terrific relationships with, though, with Danny, it's very few. And, certainly, some of those in -- perhaps could have done it. There is the potential of Mr. Lynch, other people in one's life. There are people that are under consideration.

ZAHN: Steve Mendelson, thank you so much for joining us.

You just mentioned Mr. Lynch's name. And we should make it clear that Ted Rowlands just reported that Mr. Lynch, one of their neighbors, continues to deny any involvement in this.

Right now, we turn to another big story, one that no one thought we would have to talk about. People on the Gulf Coast are bracing for yet another hurricane, this one called Wilma. The storm has already left destruction in its path, killing as many as 10 people in Haiti.

And, just moments ago, it was upgraded to a Category 2 hurricane. Now, this happens to be the 12th hurricane of the season. And, in a couple days, it could barrel into the Gulf and possibly zero in on Florida.

Let's turn to meteorologist Jacqui Jeras, as she joins us now to give us a better idea of what might be in store for people down South.

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, Paula, the outlook isn't good.

In fact, it's getting worse every minute. Wilma was a tropical storm just this morning. It's been slowly intensifying all day long. Then, all of a sudden, though, just the last couple hours, boom, this just blossoms. Wind speeds increase more than 20 miles per hour. It goes from a modest Category 1 hurricane and pops right into the middle of Category 2 range. So, now we're looking at 100 mile-per-hour winds.

The storm is in a mode of rapid intensification. And we may even be seeing a major hurricane by the time we wake up tomorrow morning. The storm is moving west-northwesterly. Hurricane watches have now been posted for parts of the Yucatan Peninsula, including Cozumel, much of western Cuba, including the Isle of Youth and the Cayman Islands.

The storm system is projected to stay over open water, and the water here, rather deep and warm. And that means additional strengthening is forecast.

Now, once it gets into the Gulf of Mexico, we're expecting it to hook on off to the right and heads towards Florida. Those winds should weaken the storm somewhat, but getting this strong, up to a four, early in the game, is going to make it very different to bring it down to a one or two before possible landfall on Saturday -- Paula.

ZAHN: Not what anybody wanted to hear tonight.

JERAS: No.

ZAHN: Thank you, Jacqui.

And, please, remember to stay with CNN for the very latest on this potentially very devastating storm.

Still ahead, some surprising news in the urgent battle against bird flu. There happens to be a vaccine against the deadly illness. So, why isn't it on the market yet? Find out in just a moment.

ZAHN: And, then, a little bit later on, what if you woke up during surgery, felt the pain, but couldn't say, "Stop," couldn't even scream? It happens to tens of thousands of people every year.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: The avian flu appears to be advancing across Europe tonight. And people here in the United States are very worried about that. Greece and neighboring Macedonia are the latest countries with suspected outbreaks of the deadly strain known as H5N1 among birds within their borders.

And officials in Rumania say they have found 12 new cases there. But, so far, the virus has not shown up in humans in Europe. But the fear is that it could quickly mutate into a form that spreads from person to person, putting millions of lives in danger.

Tonight, there is some progress on a vaccine. But whether it will be ready for you is open to debate.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta is following this race against time.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the surface, it sounds like a positive development.

MICHAEL LEAVITT, SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: We do have a vaccine that produces an immune response against this type of flu.

GUPTA: That's right. There is a vaccine again the strain of avian flu that is killing birds and people in Asia. In fact, about 20 million doses are being produced for the U.S. government, but you can't get it from your doctor. It's not approved by the FDA.

In fact, at this point, it's only experimental and it's being made for clinical trials.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: The good news is that, thus far, it appears to be safe. The good news is that we have a good dose-response curve, which means that it is classically acting like a vaccine that will induce -- and it has induced -- a rather robust immune response that you would predict would be protective.

GUPTA: But there's more bad news. The flu virus is constantly changing. That's why we need a different flu vaccine every year.

And experts think the avian flu spreading through Southeast Asia will change more before it starts spreading easily from person to person, which begs this question: If the virus continues to change, will the vaccine the government is working so hard to make even work?

The man who made it, Dr. Robert Webster, at St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, thinks it probably will.

DR. ROBERT WEBSTER, ST. JUDE'S CHILDREN'S RESEARCH HOSPITAL: I would argue that, since we have no immunity at all in the world to H5N1, the vaccine, even though it's not a perfect match, would probably protect you from death. If you were vaccinated, you would still get infected. You would probably get very sick, but not die.

GUPTA: And that's the best we can do until we know which version of the virus will spread from person to person. Once that starts happening, it will take about four to six months to build the perfect vaccine.

There's no shorter way, because, like all flu vaccines, this one is grown in fertilized chicken eggs in a process that takes millions of eggs. But, remember, this avian flu kills chickens. So, there are questions about building vaccines in the very same animals the flu is killing.

TOMMY THOMPSON, FORMER HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: That's what killing chickens right now, is the H5N1. And that's what we're basing our future on to create a vaccine. I mean, it's just -- it's just nuts.

GUPTA: Former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson, as well as some flu experts, favor another way to build vaccines that could shave weeks off the production time. Instead of growing the vaccine in an egg, you could do it scientifically in a lab, using cell cultures.

Many vaccines are already built with cell cultures, but not the flu vaccine. Thompson says he tried to change that.

THOMPSON: I asked Congress to appropriate money three years ago to set aside a way to stimulate the vaccine companies that were still in the market to do something about that, to start modernizing their vaccine methods to a cell culture.

GUPTA: He says Congress never supported him.

THOMPSON: If they would have done it three years ago, we would be well on our way to a new way to manufacture vaccine and producing vaccine.

GUPTA: Senator Tom Harkin says:

SEN. TOM HARKIN (D), IOWA: I'm on the Appropriations Committee. And I don't recall the Bush administration asking for an appropriations of money to build vaccine manufacturing plants. Now, whether Secretary Thompson just sort of talked about it, that may be one thing. But I don't remember any request coming from the administration to do this.

GUPTA: Even though trial results aren't completed on the new avian flu vaccine, the U.S. government is spending $100 million to buy enough for 20 million people, just in case.

If avian flu does hit the country, the first people to get the vaccine would, undoubtedly, be the health care workers who would be treating the sick. But what about others? There might be harmful side effects for some people. That's one of the many things they're hoping to learn in these clinical trials, before the vaccine is made available.

So, while there's a lot of hope, for now, there's also a lot of uncertainty.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: And that was Dr. Sanjay Gupta reporting for us.

There is also news tonight about Tamiflu, the drug used to fight bird flu. Roche, the Swiss-based campaign that makes the drug, says the FDA will now allow it to build a new plant here in the U.S. to produce Tamiflu.

Coming up next, I want to give you a dramatic look inside the front lines of the battle against a devastating drug.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police. Search warrant!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police. Search warrant!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: A nationwide sweep to take down methamphetamine labs.

And, a little bit later on, picture yourself on the operating table, and the anesthesia wears off, but you still can't move or can't talk, a terrifying experience -- get this -- that happens up to 40,000 people a year here in the U.S.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: And we are back now with an eye-opening exclusive from the battleground against crystal meth.

We have reported often on this plague that's sweeping across rural areas and city neighborhoods.

Brian Todd went along with drug agents and police who were part of Operation Wildfire, targeting the drug at its source. He brought us a gripping look at what it's really like on the front lines of this very dangerous war.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Law enforcement officers sneaking upon a suspected drug lab, part of an aggressive nationwide sweep, called Operation Wildfire, targeting what U.S. law enforcement officials say is the most dangerous drug in America.

KAREN TANDY, DEA ADMINISTRATOR: Meth has spread like wildfire across the United States. It has burned out communities, scorched childhoods and charred once happy and productive lives beyond recognition.

TODD: Methamphetamine, a toxic, crudely made powder that law enforcement agents say is at least as addictive as crack cocaine, but cheaper and more powerful, users able to sustain a high for several hours, sometimes days at a time, by taking a tiny hit, smaller than a fingertip.

Do enough of those, former users say, and the body is ravaged.

JOE, FORMER METH USER AND TRAFFICKER: I used to weigh a lot less than I do today, other than -- I got some teeth issues and stuff like that, because it does cause you calcium problems. It's the impurities (INAUDIBLE) come back out to your skin. So, then, they're itching and scratching and end up with -- I mean, a lot of scarring.

TODD: Law enforcement officials say meth abuse has reached epidemic proportions in the U.S, an estimated million-and-a-half regular users, many of them in rural areas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to give you some GPS coordinates. Ten-four. We're in front of the prisoner right now. I'm the last car.

TODD: In southern Michigan, a crucial component of Operation Wildfire, five teams, each combining agents from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, state and local police.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will go through a walkway to clear the garage where we think they may be cooking.

TODD: CNN is given exclusive access, riding with the teams as they fan out over several counties, looking for users, traffickers, and the so-called meth labs, where they operate, labs that are, in reality, just kitchens, shacks and garages.

(on camera): Are you guys nervous at all about these things, or have you just been at it too long to be nervous?

TONY SAUCEDO, DETECTIVE, MICHIGAN STATE POLICE: Well, always in the back of your mind., you're always thinking about trying to think ahead of what could go wrong, etcetera -- as far as nervousness, maybe right at the very beginning. But, once you get, actually, into the execution of it, it's like anything else. You just -- instincts take over.

TODD (voice-over): We have to blur the faces of some agents who do undercover work. We move with them in convoys and by helicopter to raid dozens of targets over hundreds of square miles. Speed and precision are vital.

Once a target is located, they move in with surprise and overwhelming force.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police. Search warrant. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police. Search Warrant!

TODD: We approach one house by helicopter. Our first view from the air, it looks like a nice house in a pretty setting, with police, fire crews and hazmat teams swarming.

(on camera): Agents say this scene is typical, an obscure house in the middle of the countryside. When law enforcement teams entered this house not long ago, they say they found an active meth lab, the drugs still cooking. They didn't find the suspect, but there was a large family inside, including four children.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why don't we -- why don't we go over and sit by the bike, OK?

TODD (voice-over): The children seemed to think it's an adventure, an adventure that includes shedding their clothes, decontamination and donning of scrubs. Some don't have much clothing to begin with. These children could have just been exposed to some meth-making ingredients that would literally make your head spin.

Aside from the cold medication ephedrine, throw in a type of ammonia, phosphorus and strong solvents like acetone or starter fluid, sometimes brake fluid, just some of the toxic ingredients heated during the cooking process.

One veteran police officer has seen what it does to children.

DOUG HAMMERBERG, SERGEANT, KALAMAZOO POLICE DEPARTMENT: The chemicals line the walls. They line the ducts, the air ducts in the house. And that's -- all those chemicals, these children are breathing. And it will affect them for the rest of their lives.

They will have respiratory problems. They will have health issues. They will have, you know, ADD.

TODD: That's if they avoid another hazard.

JOE: If you have any scratches in your glassware, or stuff like that, the whole thing can go up on you, which results in fire.

TODD: This man, who we'll call Joe, is a former meth addict and trafficker, who is now a police informant. For more than 20 years, law enforcement agents say, he would sell to anyone, not much caring if families like this were on the periphery.

JOE: I've been a predator my whole life.

TODD: Now that he's been turned, detoxed and cooperating for about three years, does he have any remorse?

JOE: Yes. I wish I hadn't gotten caught. Would I still be doing it today? Oh, yes. Oh, yes. TODD: Back at the house, the owner, who we call Susan, and who gave us permission to take pictures, tells police the suspect they were looking for had rented a room from her. She says she had no idea he might have been cooking meth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why are you scared?

SUSAN: Because I don't know what's going to happen, you know. And the house is tore apart now. And I don't know where he's at. And I know he's here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you afraid that he might come back and do something to your family?

TODD: Over two days, we come across six suspected meth labs. The teams take down 10 in all in southern Michigan. Nineteen arrests are made. But, for each raid that brings in suspected users or traffickers, there are houses where suspects may have been tipped off and taken off.

Can law enforcement keep up with these mom-and-pop meth labs that are seemingly everywhere?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't move! I'll -- don't move! Get on the ground now! Now! Down!

TODD: As one agent put it, they're making a difference, chipping away at this problem with each takedown. But other veteran narcotics officers are less sure.

(on camera): You guys feel like you're keeping up with this, or do you not feel you're keeping up?

DAVID COOK, DETECTIVE, MICHIGAN STATE POLICE: Unfortunately, I don't think we're keeping up with it at all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Tell me, how many -- how many...

(CROSSTALK)

TODD (voice-over): Why?

COOK: Just -- it's just -- it's so prevalent out there that it -- we can't get to every single one. All we can do is take the information we got on each one and go after that one person, which may lead us to another one.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: You're talking about an awful lot of dangerous work there -- Brian Todd reporting.

Brian mentioned some numbers earlier on, but when Operation Wildfire was over, 50 meth labs were shut down, about 400 people arrested. Still ahead, something so terrifying I can't even imagine it, waking up in the middle of surgery, feeling all the pain, and not being able to tell the doctors to stop it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY HAAPALA, WOKE UP DURING SURGERY: I was screaming inside, stop, I'm aware, this can't happen, stop, stop, and nobody's hearing me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: They call it anesthesia awareness. And it happens to tens of thousands of people every year.

And a little bit later on, an exclusive interview with a new witness who's just now coming forward in the videotaped beating in New Orleans.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: I want you to picture yourself in this position -- on the operating table, undergoing surgery, and you wake up, you feel all the pain, but you can't move, you can't talk, you can't even scream. It's terrifying, yet it happens to tens of thousands of people like the woman you're about to meet.

Here's Keith Oppenheim.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KEITH OPPENHEIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): What's your surgery for?

JANE HUBBARD, PATIENT: My surgery's for my left knee. I have a cartilage tear in my left knee.

OPPENHEIM (voice-over): Like thousands of people do each day, Jane Hubbard is undergoing surgery.

(on camera): When it comes to the anesthesia, what are your expectations?

HUBBARD: To be kept comfortable, to sleep during the procedure and wake up at the end and not feel it.

OPPENHEIM: Kelly Haapala had the same expectations in 1999, when she went into surgery after shattering her hip socket in a car accident.

(on camera): That's quite a hit you took.

KELLY HAAPALA, WOKE UP DURING SURGERY: I'm lucky. And that's what I keep reminding myself. I'm lucky. It could have been much worse.

OPPENHEIM: As frightening as the car accident was, Kelly says her greatest trauma came during surgery.

HAAPALA: I remember I left my room, and I was wheeled down the hall. When I got to the operating room, they introduced me to my anesthesiologist. He told me briefly, you know, well, we're going to put you under and everything will be OK, and then they have you count down from 10, and you're out.

OPPENHEIM: But unlike most patients, Kelly did not remain unconscious. Sometime after the surgery began, Kelly became aware. She could hear voices.

HAAPALA: I just kept thinking maybe I'm dreaming that this is happening to me, and as I was slowly realizing that I was in the operating room, that's when I started feeling the tugging, pushing, pressure, and then after that, I started feeling the pain.

OPPENHEIM: While the drugs that were keeping her unconscious were wearing off, other drugs still kept her paralyzed.

HAAPALA: I don't know how to explain it other than like a hot poker just jabbing into you to scrape all of my fragments out of there, and then like a big vacuum noise of the suctioning.

OPPENHEIM: She could feel and hear everything that was happening to her, but had no way of communicating that she was awake.

HAAPALA: I was screaming inside, stop, I'm awake, this can't happen, stop, stop, and nobody's hearing me.

OPPENHEIM: Eventually, Kelly could move. She began flailing her arms and legs.

HAAPALA: I was in such terror. I needed to let them know so badly that they needed to stop what they were doing. They just dove on me and started screaming at each other that I was awake and put her back under, put her back under.

OPPENHEIM (on camera): Did you hear that?

HAAPALA: Yeah, yeah. They were frightened as well.

OPPENHEIM (voice-over): The medical term for what happened to Kelly Haapala is called anesthesia awareness. It's estimated it only happens to somewhere between 0.1 to 0.2 percent of patients who receive general anesthesia, but put that into the number of actual cases, and that means somewhere between between 20,000 to 40,000 people in the U.S. become aware during surgery every year.

DR. CARL ROSOW, ANESTHESIOLOGIST: I have a little antibiotic...

OPPENHEIM: Dr. Carl Rosow is an anesthesiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital.

ROSOW: The problem happens when a person doesn't get enough drug, for one reason or the other. Either they're insensitive to drug, and so the normal dose doesn't put them completely to sleep, or because something interrupts the flow of drug.

OPPENHEIM: Last fall, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations issued an alert to hospitals across the country, saying anesthesia awareness is underrecognized and undertreated.

ROSOW: I think it's a very natural tendency for clinicians to try to explain it away. It's an embarrassing thing to happen. You feel like perhaps the care has failed the patient somehow, and it's nicer to think that it really didn't happen.

OPPENHEIM: Dr. Janet Osterman of Boston University Medical Center has studied patients who have experienced anesthesia awareness. Her findings show over 50 percent of patients who go through it suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

DR. JANET OSTERMAN, BOSTON UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: People had nightmares, they had intrusive thoughts. Thoughts of their surgery or parts of their surgery will come to them while they were trying to do even simple things, like brushing your teeth or driving your car.

OPPENHEIM: Kelly Haapala's surgeon told her not to dwell on what happened.

HAAPALA: I should have been able to talk to someone about what had happened to me. I should have gotten an apology, an explanation. Anything would have been helpful.

OPPENHEIM: Even more upsetting to Kelly, she is now facing additional surgery on her hip.

HAAPALA: I'm very scared that the anesthesia part of it, something could go wrong again.

OPPENHEIM (on camera): So what do you want?

HAAPALA: Well, they have brain activity monitors out. The BIS monitors are one form of them.

ROSOW: So take a look, what we're going to do right now...

OPPENHEIM: This is getting ready for the...

ROSOW: Yes, putting the BIS monitor on...

OPPENHEIM: BIS, or bispectral index monitoring, is a brain wave technology that measures how conscious a person is during surgery.

ROSOW: This is going to feel a little prickly.

OPPENHEIM: Dr. Rosow routinely uses it. He's a consultant to Aspect, the company that manufactures the monitor. The BIS number displays a number. Anything above 60 means the patient is more likely conscious.

ROSOW: This monitor is tracking something I couldn't measure in any other way.

OPPENHEIM: She is fully anesthetized right now?

ROSOW: Sure. Fully anesthetized. She very rapidly went from a state of being conscious, with numbers in the 80s, down to a very low number.

OPPENHEIM (voice-over): But there's a split among anesthesiologists, and because the technology is relatively new, a task force of the American Society of Anesthesiologists recently did a one-year study of the monitors. Their conclusion, BIS monitors are still unproven.

But Kelly Haapala wants to be sure her next anesthesiologist is using it. As unsettled as the data may be on BIS monitors, she wants to feel more confident that during her upcoming surgery, she'll wake up at only one time -- when it's over.

HAAPALA: There can always be human error, and that can happen in anything that you do. But with today's technology, I don't see why we shouldn't have a monitor in every surgery.

ROSOW: We can probably remove this now.

HAAPALA: It's not a guarantee, but the closest we can get right now to a guarantee.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: But that idea is very controversial. Keith Oppenheim reporting. And next week, the American Society of Anesthesiologists will take yet another look at brain activity monitors.

Currently, the group doesn't recommend using them during surgery.

And joining me is one else who went through the trauma of waking up during surgery. It happened to psychologist Jeanette Liska in 1990. And since then, she's been counseling others who survived it.

She also wrote "Silenced Screams: Surviving Anesthetic Awareness During Surgery, a True Life Account.

Jeanette, good to see you.

JEANETTE LISKA, PSYCHOLOGIST: Thank you. You too.

ZAHN: Thank you. We should explain that you were having surgery for a hernia. At what point did you wake up?

LISKA: I woke up shortly after I was put to sleep, thinking that the surgery was over and then coming to to realize that the surgery wasn't over. It didn't even begin yet.

ZAHN: And you started to move your arms and legs to signal to the team that you were awake. What happened? LISKA: I tried to wiggle my fingers, my toes, speak, and I was completely, totally paralyzed from head to toe and basically buried alive within side myself.

I was just a living brain on an operating table.

ZAHN: How terrifying was that?

LISKA: It was very terrifying. And 15 years later, I can giggle about it, but it's more of a cover-up because when I do think about that 15 years ago, that fear is still quite real even today.

ZAHN: But you not only had to suffer the indignity of waking up, you also were subjected to listening to some really humiliating comments made by your anesthesiologist. What did he say?

LISKA: Well, the nurse in the operating room's girlfriend had breast implants. And my anesthesiologist went ahead and stated that he was more of a natural guy and thought that I had the right size breasts -- and, take Jeanette, for instance, I think she's in great shape after having two kids, and anything more than a mouthful is a waste.

ZAHN: Could you believe what you were hearing?

LISKA: No, not at all. I mean, it was absolutely degrading and unprofessional, and just -- it's not called for. And it shouldn't be happening in our operating rooms.

ZAHN: But, Jeanette, of course you also know the reality is a lot of people who have had -- maybe not identical experiences to yours -- are told that they were hallucinating, that they were imagining what they heard?

LISKA: Yes, they are. And, actually, that evening when my anesthesiologist came to my room, he knocked on my door and was looking down at the chart and said, Jeanette, I understand that you think you were awake.

And I looked at him and I said no, I don't think I was awake. I know I was awake, but let me tell you what you think about my breast. That got his attention.

ZAHN: It got his attention and he ultimately ended up apologizing to you, didn't he?

LISKA: Yes. And he said, though, that all indications showed that I was asleep and I was comfortable, which was untrue. The heart monitor went off; my other monitors went off; I started going into cardiac arrest with severe pain in the chest and down the arm and up the side of the neck into my face where I thought my brain was going to explode, so there was indication that there was something wrong.

ZAHN: Well, I know you've made this now your life's mission.

LISKA: Yes. ZAHN: Close to 40,000 people go through, while not identical experience as yours, very similar ones.

Jeanette Liska, thanks for joining us. And I'm sure that anesthesiologist probably learned his lesson. What do you think?

LISKA: I can only pray. Thank you.

ZAHN: All right, Jeanette. Thanks for your time tonight.

Coming up next, an exclusive interview with a new witness to that shocking videotaped beating in New Orleans.

What did she see before police starting punching this man?

And a little bit later, take a look at these amazing pictures of a rescue from a burning car. We're going to speak with the man who shot them. He happened to be one of the first on the scene.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: We have a riveting exclusive witness account tonight of that shocking police beating in New Orleans, three police officers caught on videotape and later charged with beating a 64-year-old man near Bourbon Street.

Our Dan Simon spoke with a woman who said she saw the whole thing, everything leading up to the attack. Her powerful account seems to back up the man's story. And Dan Simon now joins me from San Francisco with the latest.

Dan, so you had an opportunity to spend time with this witness. What did she tell you?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good evening, Paula. This woman was extremely reluctant to come forward. She lives in northern California. Her first name is Veronica. She did not want us using her last name. She has a husband, three kids; she has a stable job.

And she went to New Orleans to do some volunteer work with the Red Cross because she was so disturbed by the images she saw on television. Now, on the night in question, she went to the French Quarter to buy some souvenirs on Bourbon Street and have some dinner.

And she says she witnessed the entire incident unfold. Now, the police officers are saying the victim, Robert Davis -- the beating victim, was so drunk that he was belligerent. But the woman we talked to says that's entirely not true. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VERONICA: Mr. Davis crossed the street in front of us. And he did not appear to be intoxicated.

SIMON: He didn't appear to be drunk at all?

VERONICA: No.

SIMON: Just looked like a normal guy?

VERONICA: Yes.

SIMON: Who was crossing the street?

VERONICA: Crossing the street.

SIMON: You didn't see stumbling? You didn't hear any shouting?

VERONICA: No.

SIMON: Why did you decide to grant this interview?

VERONICA: I want justice. I want a fair -- I want them to be fair to Mr. Davis. And right now, I don't think that's happening. I think it's very unfair.

SIMON: Well, Paula, this woman was extremely distraught by what she saw. She actually went home. She cut her trip early. She's tried to reach out to the mayor's office; she's tried to call the New Orleans Police Department to report what she saw.

At this point, she's not been able to get through to those folks, but she's contemplating talking to the FBI and she could actually talk to some agents from the FBI as early as tomorrow, Paula.

ZAHN: But, Dan, when she was in New Orleans, did she try to talk to officials then?

SIMON: Her first priority was getting home. You've got to understand: What she witnessed was just so horrible in her eyes and she had to get out of the city.

She loved doing that volunteer work for the Red Cross, but this left her scarred. She's had so many sleepless nights. So, she came home. She started working the phones, trying to reach out to the New Orleans Police Department.

The line was busy. She called the mayor's office. She couldn't get anybody, so she talked to us. And again, tomorrow, she's probably going to be talking to the FBI.

ZAHN: She's got some guts to come forward with that story. Thanks, Dan Simon for bringing that to us.

And for more on this story, we'll be watching for Dan Simon's report tonight on "NEWSNIGHT" at 10:00 Eastern.

Still ahead, take a look at this: a burning car, a trapped man pinned inside and an amazing rescue. I'll be speaking with the man who was first on the scene and shot this remarkable video.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ZAHN: Still ahead, some video I really want you to see, a dramatic rescue from a burning car, all caught on video tape. I'll speak with the man who shot the pictures. First, though, times for the "Headline News Business Break" with Christi Paul -- Christi.

(BUSINESS BREAK)

ZAHN: Yes, that's why people are in pain here all the time, Christi. Thanks so much.

Coming up next, an amazing rescue, all of it caught on videotape. Look at this footage of this desperate work to save a man from his burning car. I'll speak with the first person on the scene.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: We have some amazing video for you tonight of people putting themselves in danger to help save a life. It happened this weekend in Sun Valley, California, when the car behind me you saw caught fire after a crash. With the flames spreading, the driver's legs were pinned inside.

Bystanders and two L.A. police officers worked frantically. Finally they pulled the man out and finally carried him to safety moments before the car was engulfed in flames. The victim has broken bones and a spinal injury, but he is expected to recover.

Well, the man who took this video was freelance photograph Jack Klian. He was first on the scene, shot the pictures as he helped in the rescue. He joins me now on the telephone. Thanks so much for joining us. This video is absolutely amazing. So you were driving in the same direction as this car. What did you see when disaster struck?

JACK KLIAN, HELPED RESCUE MAN FROM BURNING CAR: I was traveling south on 170. I saw a vehicle smoking on the left shoulder. I pushed the vehicle, and realized there was a gentleman inside, semi- conscious. He said he was pinned.

Right away what went through my mind was I stuck my leg inside the window through the window so I could push the steering wheel up so I can release his legs out of the area. He was kind of moaning, kept on saying he's pinned, he can't move. Apparently he had broken legs.

ZAHN: But jack, you couldn't even get the door open at that point, could you?

KLIAN: It was a t-crash, which he was struck from the driver's side. Actually, all the doors were locked. It was impossible to open the doors.

ZAHN: And what did the cops think when they arrived? They obviously are trained to deal with these kinds of situations. They knew they had to act pretty quickly, didn't they?

KLIAN: Actually, I -- before the officers arrived, I tried to pull him out of the window because he was a big gentleman. I tried numerous times. At the same time, when the car was on fire, I was trying to extinguish it, and going back talking to him, coming back and trying to fight the fire. When the officers arrived, we got more fire extinguishers. We got a little more manpower. Until we were running out of fire extinguishers, we were running out of hope, watching him actually literally going to burn in the vehicle.

ZAHN: When you look at they pictures, Jack, it's a miracle you were so close behind him, otherwise he might not have survived. You just recently got a call from the man's mother. What did she say? How is her son doing?

KLIAN: She said that she was thanking me that -- she was thanking God he was OK, and she was very thankful. I asked her how he was doing. She indicated that he had some leg injuries, probably broken legs. He'll be out of the hospital about two weeks from now, but he really wanted to see me, and I would like to see him also.

ZAHN: Well, I don't blame him for wanting to thank you for saving his life, and we applaud you for being as brave as you were. Jack Klian, appreciate you joining us tonight.

And that wraps it up for all of us here tonight. Thanks so much for being with us. We'll be back same time, same place tomorrow night. LARRY KING LIVE starts right now.

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