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CNN NEWSROOM

Crocodile Hunter Remembered; Manhunt Under Way For New York Fugitive

Aired September 4, 2006 - 15:00   ET

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


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kyra Phillips at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.
An ironic end to a colorful life -- Aussie icon Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, dies in the Great Barrier Reef.

A folk hero of another kind -- where is Ralph "Bucky" Phillips? The New York manhunt intensifies, as cops mourn one of their own.

And it will be Florence. The tropical depression picks up speed. Could this brewing hurricane hit the states?

CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

He Was larger than life. Steve Irwin, the Australian known the world over as the Crocodile Hunter, amazed and amused with daring and exuberance. Today, his fans are mourning, after an animal encounter gone horribly wrong.

Melissa Downes Australia's Channel 9 has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MELISSA DOWNES, NATIONAL NINE NEWS REPORTER (voice over): It was the way he lived his life. He was shooting a new TV series in north Queensland called "Deadly Sea Creatures," when he came too close to one. The 44-year-old was swimming at Batt Reef, off Port Douglas, around 11:00, when he was struck in the heart by the barb of a stingray.

JOHN STAINTON, BUSINESS MANAGER OF STEVE IRWIN: Came over the top of a stingray, and a barb hit -- the -- that stingray's barb went up and went into his chest, and put a hole into his heart. It's likely that he possibly died instantly when the barb hit him.

DOWNES: A rescue helicopter was called, but there was little the medical team could do.

Friend and colleague Trevor Long from Sea World says, stingray toxin causes your circulation to shut down.

TREVOR LONG, SEA WORLD: There's antidote to it. It's just a very horrible venom that we don't know a lot about. And getting hit in the trunk is -- is -- is a bad situation.

DOWNES: Steve Irwin's body was taken to Cairns Hospital, and word spread south swiftly, with 9 News first reporting just after 2:00, something terrible had happened to the Crocodile Hunter. For a man loved around the world, emotions were particularly high at his Australia Zoo, on the Sunshine Coast. Many struggled with word their hero was dead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It can't be right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course he seemed the invincible. But, yeah, it's an absolute tragedy, what happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He died doing what he loved, didn't he?

DOWNES: The country's leaders are paying glowing tributes.

JOHN HOWARD, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: I really do feel Australia has lost a -- a -- a wonderful and colorful son.

DOWNES: A stunned premier describing Steve Irwin as perhaps our greatest international ambassador.

PETER BEATTIE, PREMIER OF QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA: He put Queensland and Australia on the international map. I mean, I can remember going to the United States, where people would not know the prime minister of Australia, but they would -- they knew Steve Irwin.

DOWNES: America has been quick to report on the tragedy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is known to have wrestled some of the most dangerous animals, reptiles, in the world. He is also known as one of the best -- best-known wildlife crusaders in the world today.

DOWNES: Steve's wife, Terri, was on a trekking holiday in Tasmania and is, tonight, returning to Queensland. As family groups continue to pay their respects, staff left Australia Zoo in absolute shock.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: Well, he loved animals. And animals made him a star, especially animals other people wouldn't touch.

Today, fans around the world are remembering and mourning Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter. He was killed by a stingray while shooting an underwater documentary off Australia's northeast coast. He was 44 and leaves behind a wife and two small children.

Jack Hanna, another famous animal expert, shared his sadness on CNN's "AMERICAN MORNING."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "AMERICAN MORNING")

JACK HANNA, ANIMAL EXPERT: It's -- it's unbelievable, really. You -- you think about Steve Irwin, you think of people that are invincible. And, you know, it's -- it's just hard to believe it happened.

Steve was one of these guys, though, that loved to bring the animal world to us in a much closer way. And all of us have our own way of doing it. And stingrays are not an animal, by the way, that really are aggressive, that come for you or anything else. They -- they range from one foot to 10, 12 feet wide, you know? And -- and it sounds like this was a big one. And -- and those barbs, you know, if you step on them in the ocean, then they -- they sting you, that type of thing.

But, I mean, there's a lot of places, like the Columbus Zoo and other places, that have touch tanks. Sea World has a great touch tank for -- for stingrays, and nothing ever happens. And it's an unfortunate accident.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Well, fatal stingray attacks are extremely rare. Stingray stings, however, are not.

CNN's David Mattingly is at the Georgia Aquarium, right here in Atlantic, where you can actually go and pet the stingrays.

Hey, David.

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Kyra.

They have one of those touch tanks here. I got the chance to actually go over a short while ago, and roll my sleeve up, and reach down, and pet the stingrays as they floated past. They feel like velvet. They are very soft and very docile. That's the message we are getting here today, is in how unaggressive these creatures typically are.

And they are mesmerizing, watching them in the big tank behind me -- thousands of people wondering how something like that can cause such a tragedy, as it has here around the world.

Now, what we are learning is these things would prefer to actually spend their days floating along the ocean floor, eating shellfish. The only time they cause a problem for people is when they are threatened by people.

And, when that happens, they have a defense mechanism. They have a very sharp barb at the base of their tail. They will try to impale whoever is threatening them with that device.

And that -- that little piece will go very deep into muscle tissue. It's sort of shaped like a spear, so it goes in very easily. But when the ray pulls it out, it can cause all sorts of tissue damage. There's concerns about possible infection. And then there's the issue of the venom.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAY DAVIS, GEORGIA AQUARIUM: Part of the first aid, if you're envenomated, hand, foot, is to soak the affected area in as hot a water as you can possibly stand, the victim can stand, without scalding the flesh. It will almost instantly stop the pain. And it also destroys the venom.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTINGLY: One thing we are learning is just how painful this is. One of the officials here told me, he has been stung by one of these rays in the past. And he said he would have much rather been striking himself in the hand with a hammer, than to have to go through that again. So, it's very, very painful.

But, again, one thing we are learning is how rare this is for something like this to be fatal. There are 1,500 people every year are stung by a stingray in U.S. waters. It's very rare that anyone has any sort of complications from them -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, David Mattingly, appreciate it.

Well, the way they look, the way they move, that subtle hint of danger, stingrays have always fascinated divers, including my next guest, who has been swimming with rays for years.

Pat Kenney is one of the founders of Stingray City, just off Grand Cayman. He joins me on the phone.

And I am well aware of -- of the company that you run. As a matter of fact, it was so packed when I was there, I wasn't able to do it, Pat. It's quite a tourist of traction.

Tell me your first reaction to the news that you heard today.

PAT KENNEY, DIVE MANAGER, RED SAIL SPORTS: Well, we were shocked.

When I heard it, I just couldn't believe it. You know, we have lost a -- a -- a real wonderful individuals and a great conservationist. And, you know, he was doing what he loved. And the irony was that he was doing it to show how gentle these creatures are.

PHILLIPS: Now, Pat, let -- let's talk about that, because you bring thousands and thousands of tourists out there with the stingrays during the -- the prime season. How do you make sure -- well, first of all, has this ever happened at any point within your tours?

KENNEY: Well, I -- this is -- we have been doing this since '85, when we started Stingray City. And this is the first known death I have -- I have ever heard of. This is -- this is one of the rarest occurrences that you can possibly believe.

PHILLIPS: Now, when your tourists come out to Stingray City, do you have to give any sort of warning? Don't act a certain way, or don't try to provoke the stingrays? I mean, what kind of talk do you give to -- to families when they come there?

KENNEY: We have -- we have a standard briefing. The -- the rays here are very docile. They're -- they're like puppy dogs, if anything.

But they are cautioned, when they are in the sand, is to shuffle their feet, so as they have don't step on them. But, other than that, there is no real warning necessary. They are -- they are a very gentle creature.

PHILLIPS: And, if someone were to be scraped by the barb or somehow have some type of smaller encounter, are you the ones that respond quickly with treating one of the tourists?

KENNEY: Oh, absolutely.

I mean, these are -- these occurrences are -- they do happen, but they are very rare. And they are usually very minor. They are treated immediately, and, if necessary, taken to the hospital. But the treatment is pretty -- pretty similar as to what was described as an immediate hot pack. But, generally, they're -- they are superficial.

PHILLIPS: Pat, is this sort of the talk of the town today, especially with regard to Stingray City? What are people saying to you, asking you? What are the concerns right now? And what are you telling them?

KENNEY: Well, people actually have no -- I mean, we -- we ran trips this morning, this afternoon.

I think that people, once, like yourself -- you have encountered the rays. You know what a gentle, docile creature -- creature this is. And it's -- it's very unfortunate, this happened. But I don't -- I don't think anyone is -- is basically over-concerned.

We have a southern stingray here. I don't know what type of ray it was that endangered Steve -- or -- or took Steve's life. But I am sure, when everything comes out, we will find that this has just been a freak of nature.

PHILLIPS: How do you think Steve Irwin made an impact on your business, Pat? And, no doubt, it -- it created a lot of adventure, especially in the younger kids that -- that watch his show.

KENNEY: Well, you know, Steve was -- was more known, I guess, for the crocodiles and -- and snakes and the other creatures. I don't know that he has ever impacted our business, except for the fact that he is -- you know, he has given the indication, just like people around the world have, that these animals, in their own environment, are -- are wonderful creatures, and that we -- we just have too many negative aspects that we put on these creatures, and -- and we really shouldn't.

PHILLIPS: Pat, final question. As folks are planning trips out there, they want to come to Stingray City, they a little have concern, what are you saying to them?

KENNEY: I would -- I would say that it's -- it's too much hype, I believe. I think you need to come down, experience it. We are running trips every day. It hasn't done anything to our business. And I don't think that it will. And I think, if it did, I think Steve would be deeply upset that it did.

Pat Kenney with Red Sail Sports there in Cayman Island -- Pat, thank you.

KENNEY: You're really welcome.

PHILLIPS: Well, more on the death of Steve Irwin ahead this hour -- I'm going to speak with one of Irwin's good friends.

And tune in tonight. CNN re-airs Larry King's on-on-one interview with Steve Irwin. That encore presentation is tonight at 9:00 Eastern, 6:00 Pacific.

Busting out of jail with a can opener earned a New York fugitive some chuckles. But now a state trooper is dead, and the manhunt for a suspected killer is more urgent than ever.

We're expecting a briefing this hour. We're going to bring it to you live.

Plus, it's churning in the Atlantic, a storm we may soon know as Flo. Jacqui Jeras updates us next on CNN, your hurricane headquarters.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Tears and outrage in New York, where one state trooper is dead, and another remains in serious condition, after an ambush.

Reporter Derrick Ward is with our affiliate in Buffalo, WKBW. He has the latest on the search for the prime suspect, fugitive Ralph "Bucky" Phillips.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DERRICK WARD, WKBW REPORTER: The latest phase of the search for fugitive Ralph Phillips began Thursday, when New York State Troopers Donald Baker Jr. and Joseph Longobardo were shot and ambushed behind a home believed to have been the home of the former girlfriend of fugitive Ralph Phillips.

Now, police say they were caught in a hail of bullets, shot from behind. Since the shootings, the reward has been increased to $225,000. And the manhunt here in the southern tier of New York has intensified.

Now, though Phillips has been seen as far away as Ohio and Tennessee, police say he keeps returning to this area, because he knows the back roads and the back woods, and has a network of friends who have helped him.

Now, there have been some arrests of people who are alleged to have given food, shelter and clothing to Phillips. And police hope that, by increasing the reward for information leading to his arrest and conviction, that help will turn to incentive to turn him in.

Derrick Ward, for CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: And we are expecting a live news conference with the state troopers this hour. We will bring it to you live as soon as it happens.

Picnics, parades and politics -- welcome to the last big holiday before Election Day. Candidates across the country are laboring for seats in Congress. And that includes the Illinois seat that Republican Henry Hyde has held for more than 30 years.

CNN's Dana Bash is in Wheaton, just west of Chicaga -- Chicago, rather.

(LAUGHTER)

PHILLIPS: Dana...

(LAUGHTER)

PHILLIPS: ... who are the two candidates battling for this key seat? Tell us about them.

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kyra, you know, Democrats recruited several Iraq war veterans this year to run in some of the most competitive races, because of their national security credentials, and, frankly, because of their compelling stories.

And that's what we are seeing in this race. Tammy Duckworth is the Democrat here. She is an Iraq war veteran. She had both of her legs blown off when she was piloting a helicopter over Iraq just about two years ago. And she's running on the national Democratic agenda that it is time for change, and that she is somebody who can talk about what Democrats say is mismanagement and misjudgment in the Iraq war, because she says she has firsthand experience. So, she has got the change thing going for -- for her, she thinks.

On the Republican side, it's a state senator named Peter Roskam. He is somebody who is a local community guy. He has served in the legislature for more than a dozen years. He was the hand-picked -- picked successor of the Republican congressman here, Henry Hyde, who has served for 32 years.

So, in any other year -- this is a Republican stronghold -- in any other year, he should be a shoo-in for this seat. But this, as you know, Kyra, is not any other year. And this race is really a toss-up.

PHILLIPS: Well, now, with a variety of polls showing the president's approval rating down, and voter frustration high, what is the GOP strategy to keep voters in their camp?

BASH: You know, it's really interesting, Kyra, being in Washington, looking at the polls, seeing the -- the -- the answer to questions about how do you feel about Washington, disillusionment being (AUDIO GAP)

PHILLIPS: We apologize. We lost our signal there with Dana Bash. We will try and get connected.

It is back?

No.

OK. We are going to keep trying to get connected with her, and talk more about that race in Illinois.

Well, moving on now, the remnants of Ernesto are being felt north of the border, while folks from North Carolina to New Hampshire start mopping up.

And it's churning in the Atlantic, a storm we may soon know as Flo.

Stay tuned to the CNN NEWSROOM for the latest updates.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Wildfires out west -- priority one, the vast Derby Mountain blaze in south central Montana. As it spreads, more residents pack up and leave, and the National Guard sets up roadblocks to keep folks out.

The fire has already scorched 180,000 acres, burned more than two dozen homes and cabins, plus two bridges.

Now, there's a road under there somewhere -- just one view of a swamped North Carolina, days after Tropical Storm Ernesto swept ashore. Homes and businesses, fields and streets, not much escaped the floodwaters -- the high waters also causing problems in Virginia. Dozens of roads are washed out. Others are blocked by trees and power lines done in by wind. Tens of thousands of homes, from the Carolinas to New York, are still without power.

The Southwest is soggy, and Baja is battered. Today, what's left of Hurricane John could dump as much as three inches of rain on the desert from Southern California to West Texas. John was a Category 2 when it slammed into the southern tip of Baja Peninsula Friday. It ripped off roofs, downed trees, and power lines, and flooded streets. About 1,100 people are still in shelters.

Ernesto is gone. Could Florence be on the way?

Jacqui Jeras here to tell us all about it -- Jacqui.

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hey, Kyra. I heard you calling it Flo already.

(LAUGHTER)

PHILLIPS: We have already nicknamed her.

JERAS: Already? Yes. Nicknames already, and it doesn't even have a name yet, at least not officially.

(LAUGHTER)

JERAS: But we do think we will get a name later on today or possibly tonight, and certainly within the next 24 hours.

It's slow to strengthen, and reason being, we have some southwesterly sheer, which is kind of breaking the storm up a little bit. But it's getting organized here, tropical depression number six. And it will be Florence when those winds become about 39 miles per hour. So, we do think that will happen in the next 24 hours.

But it will be slow to strengthen over the next several days. It will eventually, we think, become a hurricane. The good news about this system is that it is way far away from anybody at this time. There, you can see the Lesser Antilles way over on the edge of your map. So, it won't be bothering anybody, at least not for a while, though, it does get close to the cone of uncertainty as we approach the weekend. There you can see that.

So, we will have to watch and wait and see what happens. But we are talking more than a week before there is even any potential for this to be affecting the United States.

You know, we were so busy last week with Hurricanes John and Ernesto, that we didn't have a lot of time to talk about this, so, I want to take a quick minute. Colorado State University, you have heard of Dr. William Gray and Phil Klotzbach. They have been putting out these forecasts for years, did a pretty good job on it.

They have downgraded their numbers progressively, as we have gone throughout the season. But one thing I want to point out about their forecast, is, they put one out for the month only of September. They have said, even though the numbers are coming down, we think that the month of September is going to be very active, five named storms, three hurricanes, two of which expected to be intense or major hurricanes, which means Category 3 or better.

They are only thinking we are going to see two major hurricanes now this year, both of which are expected to happen in the next four weeks -- so, a big heads-up that things are going to stay kind of busy. Winds have been more favorable. But there have been large amounts of African dust coming off the coast there. And that's what has been inhibiting some of the development over the last several weeks and months.

OK, what's left of John? There, you can see the rain across much of the Southwest, going to be on the heavy side. It's a holiday today, Kyra, lots of travel -- best news, no airport delays at this time.

PHILLIPS: All right...

(CROSSTALK)

JERAS: Ended on a good note.

PHILLIPS: Appreciate it, Jacqui.

I'm just getting word we got to take you now live -- the state troopers talking about the latest on that manhunt for fugitive Ralph "Bucky" Phillips.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

MAJOR MICHAEL MANNING, NEW YORK STATE TROOPERS: ... whether it be the sheriff's department, State Environmental Conservation, Buffalo Police Department, Erie County Sheriff's Department, DEA, FBI, Pennsylvania State Police, and the list goes on.

Rochester Police Department is currently out, assisting us on missions today. As I said earlier, there's a nation of police, all unified and looking for Ralph Phillips, who we suspect as being the -- the murderer of a young trooper that we memorialized yesterday.

In the last 24 hours, numerous leads have come in from the citizens all over the county and outside the county. We are following up on all of them. We are working together on following up all these leads.

At this time, we have not had a recent sighting. We have had numerous reported them -- reported sightings, but none of them have panned out to be accurate at this time.

Trooper Baker remains out of critical, but in serious condition. We have not yet been able to interview him to determine what took place on the night of the shooting. So, that's still pending for us. The details of the trooper's funeral are still pending. We do not have that information to share with you. But that will take place somewhere in the Albany area some time in the future.

The superintendent has left for the day, but will -- will be back in a couple days. The field commander will -- will be coming in, in the next -- tomorrow, along with Colonel Perez, assistant deputy superintendent of the BCI, who will also be coming in tomorrow.

We have been addressing some local issues. School officials have been contacted, school superintendents, and our concerns with school opening up. We have been working with the transportation chiefs, and gone over the area roads, to ensure that the children get to school on time. We are not delaying them in any way. We're working with their school resource officers out there.

We do have a request for all the hunters that are out there. We seem to be running across a lot of hunters out in these woods, in these areas. They are certainly interfering with this operation. It's not a necessity to be out in the same woods that we have members of local law enforcement in searching for Ralph Phillips.

They certainly can be mistaken to be the wrong individual. And the best bet would be to stay out of these areas, unless it's absolutely necessary.

I would like to thank the community for the continued support, the flowers that are being dropped off, the cards and letters to the families, the donations that have been received, the support of all the uniformed officers out that are there on the road checks, local restaurants, and friends and neighbors, and the community people bringing them food and water on the road checks, and just driving through and thanking them, and -- and their kind words to everyone.

This has been a very difficult three days for all of us. I would also like to thank the -- the media for their understanding and consideration in staying away from the family members, and giving them their personal time.

Certainly, we will be available for any questions at this time. Or if you have any questions of any of the outside agencies that are here today, we would be happy to take a few of those.

QUESTION: How (OFF-MIKE)

MANNING: No. That's not all we are going to be doing.

Ralph -- Ralph Phillips has never indicated anything to do with the children. We feel we -- we have enough -- we have taken enough precautions, between the sheriff's department -- the sheriff here and -- and our road patrol. I'm sure the -- the pickup of these children will be absolutely safe. And we are not going to be boarding the buses. We just want to make sure that they get through any road -- road checks that we have out there, and as quickly as possible, so nobody is late for school, and nobody is late being picked up for school.

QUESTION: Can you talk about the morale of the guys out there today (OFF-MIKE)

MANNING: Morale is outstanding. After our memorial service last night, everybody went back and had their time. There was enough tears flowing last night. And I was joining them.

But today is a new day. Today is a new focus. We are focused on our mission. We are focused, along with the support of the other agencies that are here today, and -- and many more that are calling in, offering support.

Their morale is high. Their mood is -- their mood is good. They are very understanding of what -- what we have to do out here today. They have been given their missions. And they are accomplishing those missions, without a whimper.

QUESTION: Is the search any different today, in terms of either area or just the way you went about it?

MANNING: Hasn't changed.

We are -- continue to react to all the reported sightings or any information received that some -- locations that he may be staying at. And we continue to check out all of them. Nothing has really changed, other than we have additional support from the local sheriff's, the Chautauqua County SWAT team, Buffalo P.D. SWAT teams, Rochester Police Department SWAT teams, Jamestown Police Department SWAT teams.

We have additional SWAT units out here. The only thing that has really changed is our -- our tactical advantage that we have. In any place we're -- we're checking, we have more manpower to help us these days.

PHILLIPS: Authorities have wanted Ralph "Bucky" Phillips for a long time. They want him even more now. And that manhunt intensifies, as they have lost one of their own.

We are going to keep you updated on the search for this fugitive throughout the day here on CNN.

Also, the world knew him as the Crocodile Hunter. Steve Irwin called himself a wildlife warrior -- his mission, his legacy straight ahead from the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Well, he was gifted or fearless or lucky or all of the above, but Steve Irwin's latest encounter with a dangerous animal was his last. The man known as "The Crocodile Hunter" was killed today by a stingray.

CNN's John Vause reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For many Australians, it just doesn't seem real. The man who built a global reputation wrestling crocodiles and playing with deadly snakes, who courted death with a broad smile, seemed invincible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That can't be right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course he seemed invincible. But yes, it's an absolute tragedy what happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He died doing what he loved, didn't he?

VAUSE (voice-over): Even harder for many, the way he died: swimming in shallow waters on the Great Barrier Reef not far from the resort of Port Douglas in north Queensland. He was filming a segment for a children's TV show he was making with his 8-year-old daughter, Bindi. She wasn't with him at the time, but those who were say Irwin was killed by a stingray, normally a defensive animal which rarely attacks.

JOHN STAINTON, STEVE IRWIN'S PRODUCER/DIRECTOR: He came over the top of a stingray, and a barb hit -- the stingray's barb went up and went into his chest and put a hole into his heart. It's likely that he possibly died instantly when the barb hit him.

VAUSE (on camera): Irwin's support crew made a 30-minute dash to a nearby island and awaiting a medical helicopter, but no one could save his life, making this the third fatality in Australian waters from a stingray attack.

JOHN HOWARD, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: Well, I am quite shocked and distressed at Steve Irwin's sudden, untimely and freakish death. It's a huge loss to Australia. He was a wonderful character. He was a passionate environmentalist. He brought joy and entertainment and excitement to millions of people.

VAUSE (voice-over): Those who know him best, the man who turned "crikey" into a catchphrase and spent a lifetime trying to make crocodiles, snakes and sharks loveable, died doing what he loved most of all.

John Vause, CNN, Brisbane, Australia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: Well, he got a 12-foot python for his 6th birthday and Steve Irwin was hooked. Decades later, millions of fans would be hooked on Irwin's larger than life enthusiasm for snakes and lizards and other dangerous creatures. And today those fans are stunned by his death. The crocodile hunter was killed by a stingray shooting an underwater documentary off Australia's northeast coast. He was 44 and leaves behind a wife and two small children. My next guest knew Irwin not just as a fan, but as a dear friend. Billy Campbell is president of Discovery Networks US, the parent company of Animal Planet. He joins me now live from Washington.

Billy, he really took Animal Planet to another level, didn't he?

WILLIAM CAMPBELL, PRESIDENT, DISCOVERY NETWORKS: He certainly did, Kyra. And on behalf of over 5,000 Discovery employees around the world, we are all just devastated. But I think today is a day that I know he would want us and his family would want us to really celebrate his life.

And he came to Animal Planet back in October of 1996, appeared in hundreds of hours of shows for us. And obviously, as you heard, as you mentioned earlier, he was working on a show with his daughter, Bind now, that I know he's very excited for her. But it's a very, very sad day, but also a day that we should talk about the great things about Steve Irwin and what he accomplished.

PHILLIPS: Have you had a chance to talk to his wife, to Bindi, to find out how the kids are holding up, and how she is holding up?

CAMPBELL: I have not. I have spoken several times to his great partner and our partner, John Stainton, who has been the executive producer throughout Steve's career. And he is going to be in touch with the family I think probably very soon. They were in Tazmania on a vacation. So I think they are on their way back to their home in Beerwah now. PHILLIPS: You are doing a special tribute tonight, is that right, Billy?

CAMPBELL: We are going to be doing several tributes. The first tonight starting at 6:00 Eastern will be the entire night of episodes that look back on Steve's live on Animal Planet. Then we are working together probably with his family and John Stainton in the next several weeks to do sort of a marathon on both the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet that really captures the essence of the man and all the great things that he did for conservation and people around the world.

PHILLIPS: Will this documentary that he was working on be a part of that tribute or in any way be finished or carried out for him, or for part of his legacy?

CAMPBELL: Yes. That's a good question. And I think it's just happened and we are all in shock. So I think a lot of that will depend on conversations that we end up having with Terri his wife, and certainly with the family. Our goal is to continue to have the croc hunter live for as long as we do at Discovery.

I think that he was very proud that he was doing this show with Bindi. So probably if Steve had a vote, he would want us to continue. But I think we will leave that up to the family.

PHILLIPS: Well, how do you address the kids, Billy? You know what a following you (sic) had among children and how they looked up to him, how do you address that part, as well, to all the young viewers that just want to understand why this happened?

CAMPBELL: Well, you might be able to help me with that. This is new and I do have two little nephews that are 5 and 4. And they saw the news this morning and asked me about it. And I think my response was one that Steve would be fine with, which is, his entire life was devoted to saving animals and conservation of wildlife.

Everything that he and his family -- his father started the zoo. He took the zoo over in the early '90s. And he has -- everything that he has done has been totally directed toward education about issues with animals, and safety of animals, and relocation of animals that are in danger. So I think that the message that we would want to give and he would want to give is that what happened to him was done while he was swimming with animals that he loved.

He was filming something for Bindi and for us. And we are eternally grateful for all that he's done. But you know, I don't he would ever want anyone not to live their life fully. And I think there's sort of a great scene that i have heard, a friend of mine said earlier about Steve, which is, you know, while he was alive, he really lived. And I think that that's sort of a mantra that we have.

And again, one of the interesting things is that as many sort of fun and dangerous things that he did through the years, this was something that was very freakish in nature. And only a handful of people have even actually been killed by stingrays. So we just want to celebrate the wonderful things that he's accomplished. And his name will live on.

We have named a garden at our world headquarters in Silver Spring the Steve Irwin Memorial Garden. So he will always be a part of Discovery.

PHILLIPS: Well, Billy, you know, you bring up a really good point. And we all I guess should look at life that way. He made the difference that he did in a lot of people's lives, and on a worldwide scale, because he did take risks, and he did live on the edge a little bit. But he had to, in order to make the impact that he did.

CAMPBELL: There's no question about that, Kyra. And I think he would acknowledge that. You know, he -- John Stainton made a comment earlier in the Australian press that they had many close shaves along the way. I do remember a time where, you know, Steve told me he was dealing with some great whites and he wasn't quite sure he was going to get out of that situation. But, you know, he always sort of wriggled free.

I will say that if you -- you know, one thing that has been wonderful is that how many marine biologists and experts around the world have come to his defense and said, you know, he -- this was freakish in nature. He did absolutely nothing wrong. And I will tell you, having scuba dived with him myself over in Australia, off the Barrier Reef, safety always came first for him. And that was one of the messages that I think he wants all of us, and especially children, to remember.

PHILLIPS: Well, you are lucky to have that memory with him. Billy Campbell, president of Discovery Networks.

We tried to logon to the Web site, but you can't get on because so many people are responding. We wish you luck with that. And keep us posted on the tributes, we would love to talk about them.

CAMPBELL: I will, Kyra. And thank you very much. We have had thousands of people that have come into the Web site and we will be announcing a fund very soon that will be a memorial fund to continue his legacy.

PHILLIPS: Billy Campbell, thanks so much.

CAMPBELL: Thank you.

PHILLIPS: Tune in tonight. CNN re-airs Larry King's one-on-one interview with Steve Irwin. That encore presentation is tonight, 9:00 Eastern, 6:00 Pacific.

A big catch in Iraq, al Qaeda's number two leader in Iraq in custody. Plus abandoned and abused, a courageous woman puts her story on paper for all the world to read. A tale of hardships, heartaches, and finally happiness. You will hear about it ahead on CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Bloodshed in Amman just hours ago, a gunman opened fire at a popular tourist area in the capital of Jordan. A British man was killed, a tour guide, and five other tourists were hurt. A Jordanian suspect was arrested on the sport. Authorities say it will be considered a terrorist act until he's found to be mentally unstable.

A blow to the terror network in Iraq. The number two leader of al Qaeda in Iraq is in custody, his name, Hamid Juma al-Saeedi, but he goes by several others, including Abu Rana. The U.S. military says he was arrested Friday during a raid. Iraqi officials say al Saeedi was responsible for the bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samara last February. The attack inflamed sectarian tensions. Al Saeedi is also accused of supervising the creation of death squads and ordering assassinations.

Her story captivated the world. Now the memoirs of a Hindu Indian maid are in their second printing. Our Seth Doane spoke with the author of "A Life Less Ordinary."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SETH DOANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An India-based human rights organization say there are more than 1.5 million people employed as domestic help in India. Baby Halder is one of them. Abandoned by her parents and married off at 12 years old to a man more than twice her age, she says she was beaten by her husband, her story could fill a book and it does. "A Life Less Ordinary," already in its second printing in English, is captivating audiences in India, and the publisher says it's been translated into eight other languages.

"When I started to write it, I didn't think who the readers would be or whether what I was writing would appeal to the readers. I was writing it only for myself," she says.

Her employer, a retired professor, asked her if she could read and write, a rarity among domestic workers in India.

"He gave me a paper and pen and encouraged me to begin writing. I could not think of anything. So he told me I should write about myself," she says. "I started to write and there was a lot inside my own mind that I wanted to put down on paper.

That's when her story as a child in an abusive family began to pour out from her book.

"I wasn't allowed to talk with anyone, play with anyone, and often not even allowed out of the house. I was so scared of being beaten.

(on camera): Your story seems so sat but how common is it here?

(voice-over): "I have seen it with my own eyes. It has happened in many homes to a lot of women here," she says. "Unless you can change perceptions and bring in awareness, it will go on happening.

She writes: "He began to press his body against mine. I started to cry out in fear but I then thought, what's the point? I just endured everything."

Her employer saw the importance of her story and helped turn it into a book. Its success has surprised Baby and her publisher.

PREETI GILL, ZUBAAN BOOKS: It's not like it is great literature as such, as fine writing. It speaks to you because it's the truth, it's honest, it's straight, it's direct.

DOANE: Despite the book sales, Baby still works as maid. She said she will as long as she's needed by the man who brought her and her children so much happiness by encouraging her to speak up.

Seth Doane, CNN, New Delhi.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: Well, a Hurricane Katrina story with a happy ending, sort of. Voters came to the aid of a man desperate for help, but a year later his gratitude is mixed with frustration. This story ahead from the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: (INAUDIBLE) as Katrina lays waste to New Orleans, rescues answers prayers, it was a feel-good story amid scene after scene of despair, but one year later it's not that simple.

CNN's Jeanne Moos -- or Jeanne Meserve, rather, explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over: As he knows (sic) his boat ever so slowly through New Orleans' flooded streets, Chris Mercadel and his friends heard a man stranded and calling out. But they couldn't see him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Halfway in the water, and halfway out.

MESERVE: Wedged between some brush and a house, they found and elderly man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. You will be able to grab the rope and we can pull you out?

WILLIAM MORGAN, HURRICANE KATRINA SURVIVOR: I'm bare-ass naked.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's OK. Don't worry about that.

MESERVE: His name was William Morgan. He was 71, a veteran of Korea and Vietnam, and an animal lover. Only well into the rescue did they realize he was a double amputee.

When Katrina raged through New Orleans, Morgan had been in his wheelchair until water surged into his home.

MORGAN: I bobbed to the ceiling and of course everything in the house started floating by me.

MESERVE: Soon he had only a few inches of breathing space, unable to break through the ceiling. He hadn't tried swimming since his amputations, but he plunged down into the water, through a window and busted through a screen to get to fresh air.

MORGAN: It was like, I guess, the sweetest nectar a person could ever taste. It was like being reborn, again, because I thought that my chances were very, very narrow, and I better take this one shot.

MESERVE: But Morgan says he did it, again, swimming in and out of the house to rescue his poodle, Morgan le Fay. She stood on the roof as Morgan clung to branches for roughly 12 hours. When Mercadel and his friends appeared, Morgan asked them to rescue the dog, too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look, can you grab onto this? No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you get on that roof?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I can't get on the roof.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Get me to the roof, Chris.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go to the roof and pull him up. OK?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's too hard, (INAUDIBLE), he's old.

MESERVE: Morgan claims the rescuers promised to save the dog but didn't. As they dragged him through the brush and then through the water to a nearby house, he could hear the animal barking, abandoned. Morgan was furious.

MORGAN: Had I had legs, I would have turned the boat over. That's how much I care about my dog.

MESERVE: The rescue was not pretty. Mercadel and his friends had to roll Morgan up onto a nearby roof to get him into their boat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't worry, those scrapes and bruises are going to heal, OK?

MESERVE: CNN cameraman Mark Biello was on board.

MARK BIELLO, CNN PHOTOGRAPHER: You just don't reach over and you pick up someone out of the water. You have the gravity. You have the distance on the boat. It's a lot harder than it looks.

MESERVE: Mercadel recently watched Mark Biello's tape of the rescue with pride.

CHRIS MERCADEL, NEW ORLEANS RESCUER: That was a scene where I actually say, yes, I think we may have helped save somebody's life. MESERVE: But Morgan has no such sentimentality about what happened that evening. He is angry about his rough treatment and being separated from Morgan le Fay.

MORGAN: I would much rather them save my dog and leave me behind.

MESERVE: Morgan le Fay did survive. He eventual reunion with William Morgan, documented by Animal Planet. Man and dog now live in Alexandria, Louisiana north of New Orleans. Morgan's thank you to the men who saved his life is qualified.

MORGAN: I thank them from my heart for what they have done, but they could have done more.

MESERVE: There were other human lives to be saved that day, hundreds. But for William Morgan, there was one life that mattered more even than his own.

Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Alexandria, Louisiana.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: Well, the world knew him as "The Crocodile Hunter," Steve Irwin, called himself a wildlife warrior, his mission, in his own words, straight ahead from the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOWARD: Well, I am quite shocked and distressed at Steve Irwin's sudden, untimely and freakish death. It's a huge loss to Australia. He was a wonderful character. He was a passionate environmentalist. He brought joy and entertainment and excitement to millions of people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Well, he snatched thrills from the jaws of some of the most dangerous creatures on Earth. And he turned his passion into worldwide fame and fortune. Today the world is stunned by the death of Steve Irwin, "The Crocodile Hunter," in what had seemed a relatively low-risk adventure. A stingray is said to have plunged a barb into Irwin's chest while he was diving near the Great Barrier Reef. It is believed he died in moments after cardiac arrest.

Irwin called himself a wildlife warrior. He discussed his passion and how he developed his love of the nature with CNN's Larry King.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEVE IRWIN, "THE CROCODILE HUNTER": My parents actually guided me in the direction that I have gone, they started the Australia Zoo in 1970. So I was running around in the wilderness since the day I was born. LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": But you didn't have to like it, some kids are born into a family situation, their father is a lawyer, they don't want to be a lawyer.

IRWIN: Yes, absolutely, my two sisters...

KING: So you obviously liked it.

IRWIN: Loved it. Not only did I take to it like a fish to water, but when I was 4 years of age, my dad noticed that I had a gift with wildlife that he had never seen nor encountered ever before.

How many singles have you got back there, dad?

We were out catching snakes for the Commonwealth Serum Laboratory, I found this big brown snake and I sunk my foot, bam, right on it. And I was like in bare feet, had these little sandals on. And I'm going dad, dad, I have got one !

And he comes over and he goes, whack, knocks me out of the way, broke my heart. I ran away crying, the snake was at my leg poised, but wasn't biting. And from that moment when he saw that, he thought to himself, what's this kid got?

And then when I was 9 years of age, he allowed me to catch my first croc and I guess I must have made him proud. And I demonstrated to him that I had a gift with wildlife and he nurtured that with my mom. And now I am who I am.

KING: What, Steve, is the gift?

IRWIN: The gift. Firstly, Larry, you know, I'm a wildlife warrior. You know, a warrior is someone who is trained or engaged in battle. My battle is conservation. OK. So I'm a wildlife warrior and anyone can be one. But I have a gift. God put me on this planet with a mission. And my mission is to educate people about conservation. So what...

KING: But the gift to communicate with animals, where did that come from?

IRWIN: That's right.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Animals like you.

IRWIN: Yes. It is in my genetic makeup. That's where it comes from. Man, I can do stuff with animals that no one else in the world can do.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: Tune in tonight, CNN re-airs Larry King's one-on-one interview with Steve Irwin. That encore presentation is tonight, 9:00 Eastern, 6:00 Pacific. That wraps up this Labor Day edition of CNN NEWSROOM. Thanks for joining us. "THE SITUATION ROOM" with John King starts right now.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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