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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Film About Suicide Opens in Theaters

Aired October 27, 2006 - 21:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KING, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight, he survived a jump off the world's most famous suicide landmark, the Golden Gate Bridge; plus, a mother whose son did take his life there and a man who kept a woman from jumping to her death. They're all in a controversial new movie opening tonight that raises dark questions and shows dramatic real life footage of more than 20 people trying to kill themselves.

And then, she walked away from a flaming jetliner crash that killed 13 people. He was attacked by a mountain lion while hiking and somehow fought it off after the big cat had his head in its jaws.

And doctors call this one a miracle man since he's walked out of the hospital months after a plane crash broke his neck and left him unable to breathe on his own; ordinary people, extraordinary stories of survival; next on LARRY KING LIVE.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Good evening.

First about this movie, "The Bridge," our guest Eric Steel applied for a permit to shoot video of the Golden Gate Bridge 24 hours a day, seven days a week in the year 2004.

What he caught on camera were the suicidal jumps of 23 men and women. He then talked to many of the suicide victims' friends and family. And this weekend his documentary film, "The Bridge," opens at select theaters nationwide.

Eric joins us from New York. What are you hoping to accomplish with this, Eric?

ERIC STEEL, DIRECTOR, "THE BRIDGE": Well, I hope we can find a way to change the dialog about suicide. It seems that the suicides of the Golden Gate Bridge are the very few suicides that take place in public. Most of them take place behind closed doors. And, it's an opportunity maybe to look at something that we really just don't acknowledge. I mean suicides in this country happen twice as much as homicides.

KING: Did you have any difficulty getting permits to do all this photo shooting and film shooting? STEEL: I didn't have any trouble getting the permits. I think after they gave me the permits they probably wish they hadn't but didn't have any trouble getting them.

KING: But you told them what you were doing?

STEEL: I told them we were filming the Golden Gate Bridge for an entire year with two sets of two cameras, one wide angle camera, one telephoto camera and that we would be there every single day for an entire year. I didn't tell them that we would be looking for the suicides.

KING: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, we hope we can help people tonight, which is on the web at suicidepreventionlifeline.org. There's also a national suicide prevention phone number. It's 1-800-273-TALK, that's 1-800-273-TALK.

Our guest, Eric Steel, applied for that permit to shoot the Golden Gate Bridge. And there are parts of the film you're watching the final moments of living, breathing human beings. We'll show you one of those moments now but please know this can be very disturbing.

(VIDEO CLIP OF SUICIDE JUMP FROM "THE BRIDGE")

KING: Eric, do you think you help people with this?

STEEL: Well, I think we have. I mean already there's a conversation about suicide and mental illness that really hasn't existed at least in this big a forum for quite a while.

KING: There's a young man in the film that we learn a lot about. His name is Gene (ph). We see him standing on the bridge over and over throughout the movie. He paces. He looks over. He paces some more.

In the film, you spoke to many of Gene's friends for the film, friends who were sure that he would one day commit suicide. One friend, who had known him since his birth, tells the camera how she pleaded with him about what to do if one day he went through with his plan. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I had to try on occasion to find something that would encourage him to live, something. And, I asked him again for a favor. I said, "Put my name and phone number in a plastic bag in your pocket so that when you are found I can be told. I need to know."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We don't want to say what happened with Gene because he's followed throughout the film and you will discover that at the end. The film is "The Bridge."

Joining us now in Pittsburgh is Rich Waters, amateur photographer, visiting the bridge to take beauty shots, ended up saving a would-be jumper.

And, our friend in New York, Dr. Keith Ablow, the forensic psychiatrist and best-selling author, host of the syndicated "Dr. Keith Ablow Show," to find out when and where he airs in your area check out his website, drkeithtv.com.

Rich, what happened when you were shooting that day?

RICH WATERS, AMATEUR PHOTOGRAPHER: Hi, Larry. Thanks for having me on the show.

That was actually my last day in San Francisco and I went on out to the bridge and I was actually thinking to myself I wanted to see what people saw for the last -- when they took their last step in their life.

And, I was taking pictures of the rail and just then a girl, she climbed over the rail in front of me and I took her picture. I wanted to document what was happening. And, as time went by I snapped out of it and I just kind of felt compelled to do something about it and I was able to reach over, grab the girl and bring her to safety.

KING: Did she fight you off?

WATERS: Yes, she fought me off a little bit. And once I got her onto the bridge, she gave up a pretty good fight and I just held her down and I called 911. The amazing thing about that is people just walked right past me on the bridge. They saw the struggle going on but nobody actually stopped to find out what was going on.

KING: Eric, your cameras were watching the whole thing happen. Let's take a look at what Rich does once he realizes how close to death this woman really was. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WATERS (voice-over): I started yelling out to the girl, you know, asking her what was wrong. She seemed to be speaking in a different language and basically like tuning me out, like really not thinking about what I was saying.

So, I got up on a rail and I reached out and I really didn't know if I was going to be able to grab the back of her jacket. But once I grabbed it I just lifted her over the rail and got her down on the ground. She started to fight me a little bit, so I just sat on her chest and just called 911.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Dr. Ablow, is everyone who attempts or commits suicide mentally ill or severely depressed?

DR. KEITH ABLOW, FORENSIC PSYCHIATRIST: Well, I'm not sure that you can -- you can't say that everybody who commits suicide is suffering with a severe major depression. There are other conditions, first of all, that could lead somebody to commit suicide. Somebody can be delusional and have a delusional disorder and believe literally that he or she can fly.

So, the question is are they doing it "intentionally" or are they doing it because they're laboring under a psychotic condition? That's one question. And then there are people who are suffering terrible illnesses decide that they can't go on.

I think the thing that binds together most people who go on to take their lives is that they have an inability to imagine the next chapter in their life stories.

And, it's always been tragic to me and also something hopeful in terms of what psychiatry can do for people that when you go back into their life histories you can trace their life stories in such a way that you see them contracting the way that they see their options as so limiting and they don't know literally what page comes next in their life stories. When you can open that up for them and suggest to them ways that they can see light in their lives you can literally inspire somebody to go on in a new way.

KING: Rich, we understand that girl is alive but she occasionally comes back to the bridge but did not kill herself, is that right?

WATERS: Yes, as far as I know that's what her story is right now.

KING: Thanks, Rich.

We'll take a break. And when we come back, Eric Steel, Dr. Ablow will remain with us.

We'll meet Kevin Hines, who went to the Golden Gate Bridge to commit suicide, jumped over but survived. We'll also meet Pat Hines, Kevin's father.

That's all ahead on this very special edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So when I got to the halfway point of the bridge I set my book down and jumped over onto the railing. I just sat there crying and thinking for a little bit. The cops showed up. I made the mistake of letting them get to know me too well because they completely used my son against me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They were taking pictures of each other and I was taking pictures to them and Paolo (ph) was taking pictures to us and they were playing. You were calling the baby and we were walking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we saw that lady.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This lady, yes, put the...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bag on the ground and she jumped off.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: In New York, Eric Steel remains with us. He's director of "The Bridge," which opened today.

In New York is also Dr. Keith Ablow, the forensic psychiatrist.

Joining us from San Francisco is Kevin Hines, who went to the bridge to commit suicide, jumped over the guardrail, plummeted 200 feet but survived. He's here with his father and the father is with us in Los Angeles, Pat Hines. Pat, we welcome to learn his story.

Kevin, what led you to want to kill yourself?

KEVIN HINES, TRIED TO COMMIT SUICIDE AT GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE: Larry, it was quite simple. There was bipolar disorder, a mental disease, just like every other organ in the body your brain is an organ and it can get sick and that's what happened.

KING: And was Dr. Ablow right, when you can't see your future?

K. HINES: He's -- you know what I heard that and he's absolutely correct. A lot of people who feel suicidal or are mentally ill and feel suicidal can only see through a tunnel vision.

They only see death and that they are a burden to their family and friends. They cannot see when they're 45, 55, 65. They cannot see their mom, their dad and all these people they're going to hurt deeply doing what they're about to do.

KING: Now there are different types of suicide. People shoot themselves. People take pills. Why did you jump off a bridge?

K. HINES: Quite simple, Larry. It was the easiest way. I thought I would die. It's a four-foot rail. Like I said before, a 12-year-old child tall enough can trip over. And, quite frankly, I had read about some things in websites saying, you know, if you want to die, Golden Gate Bridge is the way and it's sad that that's there.

KING: Pat, were you worried about your son? Did you know he was bipolar?

PAT HINES, SON ATTEMPTED SUICIDE AT GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE: Oh, God, yes. It was a terrible strain.

KING: What happened on the day he attempted?

P. HINES: He was calm. I had called a psychiatrist, Kevin's psychiatrist, all weekend long because Kevin had been manic and the psychiatrist kept assuring me that it would pass. He would be calm and not to worry. And so, that Sunday night, the final call the psychiatrist. He said "Don't worry. It's going to be fine."

And sure enough, the next morning Kevin woke up calm. I said, "Gee, Kev, how about staying home? Let's -- why don't you come to work with me or why don't we just take the day off and go to the beach or something?" He said, "No, I'm fine."

KING: Calm before the storm.

P. HINES: You bet it was.

KING: How did you live, Kevin?

K. HINES: Well, I believe by the grace of God. But, physically I lived. I hit feet first, which they have said that most people still die when they hit the way I hit. It just happened that I went in at a certain angle and my body was in good shape from football, your prior things like that. But, you know what, I only attribute it to God and my struggle to stay afloat.

KING: Eric, is this on film?

STEEL: No, I think Kevin's attempt was in 2000. So, I met Kevin early on in the process of making the movie and his story was just incredibly inspirational, so we included it in the film.

But I know Kevin's struggle has been ongoing with bipolar disorder but his vitality and his just contribution to everything that goes on in the world is so strong that I felt like I wanted to show that you really could come out of this on the other side and be just an incredibly valuable and valued person in the world.

KING: You appear, Kevin, to be very OK now.

K. HINES: You know, a lot of people look at me and they say to me, "You don't look bipolar." Well that's the thing. You never know when someone is struggling with something like that. They try to hide it and they try to hide it because of the shame and the stigma put on mental illness.

Well I say, you know, as you have a broken arm and people can see that you should let people know. You know, I have bipolar and I'm OK with that. I'm not proud of it. I'm not boasting but I'm OK with that and I'm going to fight every day of the week to stay above water and to stay focused and stay healthy.

KING: Dr. Ablow, what are your thoughts on this matter?

ABLOW: Well, you know, one of the things that has impressed me so much about the work that I do in psychiatry is that people get better. You know I think that the general public and so many people who suffer with bipolar disorder or major depression or other illnesses believe that somehow that this is a life sentence that it's going to be forever and never get better.

But, I have seen so many people get vastly better and not in years. It can be just weeks or months, usually months that medicines and therapy combined turn things around so drastically.

And I would also say that, you know, a program like this really does put out the word to people, "Don't give up." And, I'd also say to my colleagues in psychiatry, "When people ask you what is the likelihood that I'm going to beat this thing" you should really be honest with them and say "It's over 90 percent. We're going to make a giant difference in your life in just months" because you know what, we have the tools at hand to do that. You got to give people optimism.

KING: There's a particular jumper in the documentary. We see him seemingly acting normally. He's talking on his cell phone. He even appears to laugh while on the phone. And later, we see the man hang up. And here's the video. See for yourself what he does.

(VIDEO CLIP OF MAN JUMPING FROM GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE)

KING: Now, Dr. Ablow, there are lots of types of suicides, including the happy one, right?

ABLOW: Well, you know, there are people who morosely will laugh and they want to be, you know, done with the world. But also you don't know what was going through that man's mind. Did he believe at that moment that he could fly? Literally, there are people who labor under delusions that deprive them of rational thought.

I'd also say that, you know, when people say that they're thinking about this, there's a big myth in the public that people who talk about suicide don't really try it for real. Well, that's not true. People most often will mention it to somebody and very often it's a therapist. So, you can never dismiss these things at all.

KING: Yes. Pat, do you still worry about Kevin?

K. HINES: Yes, I do worry about Kevin but I must say that Kevin's made progress. Kevin's worked hard. Subsequent to his jump, Kevin had been hospitalized three more times. It hasn't been an easy road. But Kevin's a fighter and he's got courage and every day for Kevin he gets up and he's ready to battle it.

KING: Thank you, Pat. Thanks for coming by.

P. HINES: Thank you, Larry, appreciate it.

KING: Kevin will remain with us.

Up next, a woman whose son jumped but did not survive as we continue to look at this amazing documentary called "The Bridge."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said whether some people believe suicide is a sin or not. He asked that a lot. I said, "That's something man made up." At least he thanked me for telling him the truth, you know, just you know I don't know. You know it was just I don't think God's going to hold you responsible for something you can't handle. And he said, "Well, whether I come back or not" he says, you know, "If I do, I'll see you again dad. If not, just know that I'm at peace."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I cut over to the South Tower and some stuff fell, so I cut back the other way and I just saw a mass falling towards my kite and I thought it was the same thing and so I turned the kite back. And when I looked over and, you know, before they hit I realized it was a person that had jumped. So, then I cut over just to see or maybe possibly help.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: By the way, I'm told that one person jumps off that bridge every 15 days. A logical answer would be raise the railing.

Anyway, joining our panel is Mary Manikow. Her son Philip (ph) committed suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. Mary, did you have any inkling, see it coming?

MARY MANIKOW, SON COMMITTED SUICIDE JUMPING FROM GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE: Yes, Larry. Philip had become very withdrawn and we've tried so hard, you know, to try to get him some help. And he had been on various medicines and it just seemed like nothing seemed to work. It was one right after the other and it just seemed like the doctors were experimenting with him. And, I think he was just getting impatient. He didn't want to be the way he was.

KING: It's sad. Eric, do we see Philip in the film?

STEEL: No, we didn't see Philip jump. Of course, we had a record that he had died but no you don't see him.

KING: Mary, do you know why he would choose to jump off a bridge?

MANIKOW: Well, it was interesting because we had gone to San Francisco as a family and, of course, San Francisco is a beautiful place. And, Philip just seemed to be fascinated by the Golden Gate Bridge. He wanted numerous pictures of it.

We had taken a tour over to (INAUDIBLE) to view their redwoods and he seemed to want to get out of the -- you know to walk on the bridge and it was almost like it was calling him in a sense. Why the fascination with the bridge I have no idea.

KING: Kevin, why don't they raise the railing?

K. HINES: Well, they don't raise the railing they claim for many reasons. One, they don't want to ruin the aesthetics of the bridge. I say what are the aesthetics of a bridge compared to one human life?

Also, they don't want to enrage the people walking across the bridge who want to see that view and also because they might not have the money to do so. But, I'm sure we as a unit of human society can figure out how to get that money.

KING: Doctor, does the manner in which a person kills himself tell you something about the person?

ABLOW: I think it does. I think that there are some people who approach suicide with extreme determination and lethality and obviously a leap off this bridge is one of those methods. And, I think it's very important for mental health professionals to realize that often patients, or individuals who come to them, are looking to them to see how determined are they to continue the patient's life.

And I've always been a little quicker than most perhaps to hospitalize patients against their will if they're expressing suicidal ideation because I feel like they're looking to me to say, "Well is my life worthwhile?"

And, the answer has to be a resounding absolutely. I'll go the ends of the earth to keep you from doing this because I know things can get better and I do know that. So, anyone listening tonight who is in the position of thinking can things change? Absolutely they can.

KING: Dr. Ablow, any danger that this film could glamorize it?

ABLOW: I don't think so. I think what we're looking at in this film, and I watched it, is the pain that follows suicide. It's an honest look at the desperation in these people's lives.

And, I was touched deeply by it because so many times, as I've said, I think people have contracted views of their own life stories and it takes somebody else looking at their lives to say, "You know what, you can have a much brighter future than you know."

And don't look at it through the lens of depression because it's an unreliable lens. You can't see where you're going because the depression is the lens through which you're looking at your life. Don't trust it. It's brighter than that.

KING: Yes. The website is suicidepreventionlifeline.org. The toll-free number is 1-800-273-TALK. We thank Eric Steel, the director of "The Bridge," it opened today; Dr. Keith Ablow, Kevin Hines, and much good luck in the future to Mary Manikow as she appears to be carrying on quite well.

When we come back from a wild cougar attack to plane crashes, some amazing stories of people who shouldn't have survived but they did. That's ahead in our next half hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: In our next segment, some extraordinary stories of survival.

We begin with Justin and Jeremy Harris. They're both here in Los Angeles. These are two brothers who beat the odds an survived two days in the subfreezing wintry wilderness of Utah. Their story is featured on a premiere episode of Discovery Channel's "I Shouldn't Be Alive" airing November 10 at 10 p.m. Pacific.

First, take a look at the clip from that program.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When two brothers set off to hike through a row mote canyon in Utah, unexpected frigid weather conditions and extreme terrain pushed them to their limits. Then a simple mistake...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Justin!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... turns a challenging day into a terrifying disaster. One brother's leg is shattered. The other realizes he must go on alone and try to get help. It's a race against time.

As he risks his own life searching for a way out of the canyon in the dark, one thought drives him on: if he fails, his brother will die.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: What were you doing there, Justin?

JUSTIN HARRIS, SURVIVED GETTING LOST IN WILDERNESS: Well, we were -- we were basically out to have a good time, have a weekend away, and go out hiking.

KING: What time of the year was it?

JUSTIN HARRIS: This was November. It was November.

KING: Cold.

JUSTIN HARRIS: Absolutely. It was cold. It was a little colder than we were hoping for a weekend in November. But...

KING: Not anything but hiking?

JUSTIN HARRIS: Hiking and repelling. We had technical climbing gear with us. And we were out repelling off some cliffs and trying to make a big circle route.

KING: You'd done this before?

JUSTIN HARRIS: Jeremy had done it before. I was new to climbing ropes and technical gear, but I felt really, you know, comfortable.

KING: Jeremy, what happened?

JEREMY HARRIS, SURVIVED GETTING LOST IN WILDERNESS: We were about halfway through our canyon loop, and we had fallen behind time. We were trying to catch up on time, in a little bit of a hurry. I think that's where our biggest mistake was.

Justin was using me as an anchor. He made a shift in his movement like he was going to jump, is what it seemed to be. I let go, and he fell instead of jumping. He fell to the floor, shattered his leg. And...

KING: Couldn't move then.

JEREMY HARRIS: Couldn't move.

KING: What did you do?

JEREMY HARRIS: Freaked out at first. I was left as the only one in charge and the only one who had the ability to do anything about it.

KING: Was it snowing?

JEREMY HARRIS: It had been, yes.

KING: So what did you decide to do?

JEREMY HARRIS: We really didn't openly discuss it. It wasn't -- we both knew what I had to do, and that was leave him there and hike out.

KING: How long did it take you to hike out?

JEREMY HARRIS: Should have only took five hours, maximum. It took me 27 hours.

KING: Why?

JEREMY HARRIS: It was dark. I was disoriented. I was pushed way beyond where I believed my limits were.

KING: What was going through you, Justin?

JUSTIN HARRIS: Oh, you know, this was probably the most terrifying moment of my life. I was sitting there trying not to freeze to death. I was trying to be as strong as I possibly could and keep myself alive.

KING: Did you pass out?

JUSTIN HARRIS: I didn't pass out. I knew that the one thing that I had going for me was my brain, and I had to keep myself mentally alert the whole time.

KING: And your brother, you had that going for you.

JUSTIN HARRIS: And my brother. Absolutely.

KING: Who did you find to come rescue him? JEREMY HARRIS: I called the Emery County Sheriff's Office, and the first one to arrive was the sheriff, assessed the situation and gathered a team together to get him out of there.

KING: You didn't have a cell phone? You could have called right from the accident?

JEREMY HARRIS: No. I had to hike back to camp, to base camp.

KING: And did you go with them when they went to rescue him? You had to go, didn't you, to show him where he was?

JEREMY HARRIS: I did not.

KING: You did not?

JEREMY HARRIS: I drove with the sheriff out to the edge of a butte where you could overlook the crack in the floor. And I knew right where he was.

KING: Did you ever give up?

JUSTIN HARRIS: Absolutely not. Absolutely not. I -- I had four children and a wife waiting for me back home, and I needed to get there.

KING: What condition were you in when they got to rescue you?

JUSTIN HARRIS: When the rescue team got to me, I was -- I was absolutely hypothermic. Had been well below freezing the entire time that I was out there. And I was a little bit dehydrated and suffering from a lot of -- a lot of trauma in my leg and other problems that were going on in my body.

KING: Anyone estimate how much time you might have had left?

JUSTIN HARRIS: Well, the doctors say that it was a good thing I was out of there when I did get out of there. Once I was at the hospital, I was diagnosed with extreme compartment syndrome, which is swelling in the leg. I had toxins building up inside my body. My kidneys were shutting down. And I spent the next six days in ICU.

KING: Any after-effects since?

JUSTIN HARRIS: Yes. In fact, six weeks into my hospital stay we ran out of options, and I had my left leg amputated.

KING: There was no other way?

JUSTIN HARRIS: We -- we ran out of options.

KING: So you have an artificial leg?

JUSTIN HARRIS: I do. I wear a prosthetic leg.

KING: Used to it now? JUSTIN HARRIS: Yes. Getting more used to it all the time. At first it was a real challenge to walk on, but day by day you get a little bit better.

KING: Did you ever think your brother wouldn't make it, Jeremy?

JEREMY HARRIS: No, I didn't.

KING: Did not?

JEREMY HARRIS: No. I always knew that when I left him as long as I accomplished my goal, as long as I got out and made a phone call to someone, that everything was going to be all right.

KING: Do you brothers remain as close as ever?

JUSTIN HARRIS: You bet we do.

JEREMY HARRIS: Closer.

JUSTIN HARRIS: Absolutely. You go through something like this with someone, it changes you. It changes our relationship, and, you know, we shared something that brothers don't often get the opportunity to share.

KING: An incredible story. Do you still go up into the mountains in Utah?

JEREMY HARRIS: I still go up in the mountains. I haven't canyoneered, though, since.

KING: But you still go up?

JEREMY HARRIS: Oh, yes.

KING: You can't, can you, with one leg?

JUSTIN HARRIS: I still go hiking. I golf. I ski. I coach my children's games. As for canyoneering and hiking, no, not so much.

KING: Consider yourself lucky?

JUSTIN HARRIS: Consider myself very lucky and very blessed.

KING: How do you feel looking back?

JEREMY HARRIS: Not necessarily lucky but definitely blessed. It was an experience that changed my viewpoint on life.

KING: Great story. Thank you both.

Justin and Jeremy Harris. You'll see the whole story on the premiere episode of Discovery Channel's "I Shouldn't Be Alive". It airs November 10 at 10 p.m.

As we go to break, some news -- new footage of Justin and Jeremy's rescue from the Utah wilderness.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Finally, the sound of voices. His rescuers had arrived. Almost 48 hours after his fall.

JUSTIN HARRIS: I'm alive!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know what?

JUSTIN HARRIS: Yes! Yes, it's me. I love you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His brother had kept his promise.

JUSTIN HARRIS: We've always been close. We've always been brothers. Now I think we probably share something that neither one of us will ever forget.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back.

Andy Peter -- Andy Peterson joins us now from Minneapolis. He was attacked by a cougar while hiking in Colorado. The incident changed his life and allowed him to live a drug-free life.

What happened, Andy?

ANDY PETERSON, SURVIVED COUGAR ATTACK: Well, back in '98 I was -- went on a trail in Rocksborough State Park. It was Carpentry -- Carpenter's Peak Trail, which is a 3.2-mile trail up in the mountains on about a 1, 1.5-foot trail.

And up on the top, on my way down, I ran into a mountain lion. He was under the tree and just kind of watched. I got to watch him for about five minutes. And after that, he stared at me for -- we had a stare-off for about seven to 10 minutes.

And I started pulling out all the -- the blades on my Swiss army knife. And unfortunately, that knife did not have a lock on it. So I started folding all the blades, realizing I might just cut off my own hand if this thing does attack. And sure enough, as soon as one of the blades slipped, made a little snap sound, that cat immediately was right in front of me.

I took one step down the trail. He took a step up, gave a vicious growl, and jumped, leaped. Claws slammed into the left side of my neck, got into my chest a little bit.

Thankfully, I got away, jumped out of his grip, jumped on the trail. Ninety yards down the trail we started running, and I was running backwards with my shirt, fanny pack kind of in between us to kind of to keep our view -- to keep the cat away from me. And at the end of 90 yards, the trail kind of did a three-step boulder drop. And sure enough, I took two swings at the cat, one with the fanny pack, one with the knife. And at that point, I realized, I've got to get down this trail. We had, you know, well over 2.5-plus miles to get down. Jumped down the boulder step, three-foot drop. Cat was the same -- same height as me, and just leaped.

We took out trees and brush and landed about 10 feet down off the trail. And we took out trees and brush and landed about 10 feet down the trail. Thankfully, the cat landed on his back. Bottom -- bottom claws on my thighs and my knee. Top claws all popped into my neck, bottom jaw and my hairline. Top jaw up here, and it bit twice and stopped.

And I had my knife in my left hand, just started going after its throat. The tooth was right here in front of my eye. And basically, upset the cat as I started punching -- or stabbing it in the head.

KING: Did you -- did you kill the cat?

PETERSON: No, I did not. I stabbed it in the head twice. The knife closed up on my hand, and the cat bit four more times, just raked right into my head, bit four more times. The claws came out, took two swings at my face. One connected up to a 4-inch gash under my eye, and the 8-inch gash into my head. All I saw was blood.

KING: Why are you alive?

PETERSON: By the grace of God.

KING: Now was it true that -- were you addicted to drugs? Did you -- did that change? Did you have a drug problem or something?

PETERSON: Oh, absolutely. I -- I was pretty much just thought you just do what you need to do to get ahead in life. Never had a relationship with Jesus, didn't know who he was.

And thankfully I was able to get up off -- away from that cat's grip and jump back up on that trail; 2.5-plus miles I had to run down, still nobody in sight. And running down for my life.

That was the scariest thing I've ever felt. That was the most powerful I've ever been held by anything. And I knew at that point either I get off that trail or I'm done. That's it.

And the last -- about the last mile of the trail I kept looking over my shoulder in hopes that this cat is gone. And in the last mile, I looked back over my right shoulder. The trail kind of did an L-shape. And up on that corner of the L, sure enough, when I looked over, there was the cat's face. And when I did kind of a double-take, it was like an outline transparent face with a beard, transparent face of Jesus.

KING: You're kidding.

PETERSON: No, I'm not. And people have asked me, how do you know it was Jesus? Very simply, you know it in your heart. The peace, the calm, the safety net. It's just like you just got picked up and hugged.

KING: So what do you do with your life now?

PETERSON: I share it, and I am a witness for Jesus that no matter what you have done, no matter what -- what junk you carry in your life, he loves you so much that you can just let it go. Just run after him, and everything else falls into place.

Since I've put both feet on God's path and realized, you know what? All this other junk, the parties, the drugs, the trying to find something secure and solid in my life, whether it was relationships or parties or what have you, when I finally put both feet on his path, put my full heart and said, "God, come into my life. I can't do this anymore. I'm done searching." That is when the true blessings starting rolling.

KING: I give you a lot of credit.

If you want more information about Andy and his story, check it out at his website: www.LKMinistries.com. Andy Peterson.

And when we come back, an extraordinary story with Wendy Bonham, one of two people who survived a plane crash that claimed 13 lives.

First, let's check in with John King. He's in New York. He's been hosting "ANDERSON COOPER 360" all week.

John, what's tonight?

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Larry, very inspirational program. We'll keep watching. Thank you very much.

Tonight, partisan political fighting to the extreme. This time it's for the candidates -- between the candidates for the U.S. Senate seat in Virginia.

You may have already heard some of the language. Some of it we can't even say here on television. Today Vice President Dick Cheney's wife was called out over it, and she had to defend her own words.

We'll have it all coming up, partisan sniping at the top of the hour -- Larry.

KING: John has followed those kind of scenes a long time.

J. KING: Long time.

KING: "AC 360" at the top of the hour, 10 Eastern, 7 Pacific. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's debris scattered about quite extensively. The biggest portion of the fuselage is in a very tight location; about a 60-foot diameter section is where it's at.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Both the survivors, it's an incredible miracle that they're alive and in stable condition. I just -- I just think it's an incredible miracle.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: One of those survivors, Wendy Bonham, she joins us from Seattle, Washington. That was an American connection Flight 9566, crashed in Kirksville, Missouri, October 19, 2004.

How did you get out?

WENDY BONHAM, AIR CRASH SURVIVOR: I got out literally because some of the people who didn't survive helped me. I have...

KING: Really?

BONHAM: Yes.

KING: You mean someone trapped helped get you out?

BONHAM: No. I think that they had already passed away, and their spirits helped get me out. Because that is something that I don't remember, and I believe that during the times that I don't remember -- I do remember some things about it. The times that I don't remember were the hardest times, like getting out. We were -- the plane was up in the trees, and it was quite a drop. And I don't remember getting from the plane down to the ground.

KING: Do you remember the crash itself?

BONHAM: I remember loud noises and the lights flickering and going out, and I think that's about all until I woke up.

KING: How much warning do you think you had from the time that started until the crash?

BONHAM: We hit trees. There was no warning.

KING: Was this a takeoff or a landing?

BONHAM: It was -- it was at the landing.

KING: Was it a fine flight up to then?

BONHAM: Yes. Yes.

KING: How badly were you injured?

BONHAM: My arm was broken very -- pretty badly, and I had a hole in my leg. Some kind of shrapnel or something had gone into my leg and then come out. And then I had some burns over my head and arms and legs.

KING: You realize, of course, Wendy, very few people are able to say, "I survived a plane crash."

BONHAM: I do realize that.

KING: So you consider yourself lucky?

BONHAM: Yes. And blessed.

KING: Have you flown since?

BONHAM: I haven't.

KING: You have not?

BONHAM: No. I'm contemplating it, but I haven't done it yet.

KING: Do you have any repercussions from the accident, anything still wrong?

BONHAM: In my arm, I don't have as much strength, and I have some loss of feeling in it. And I think emotionally I struggle with some things. But I'm doing really well.

KING: Thank you, Wendy. We salute you. We're going to do more on this.

Wendy Bonham, one of two who survived a plane crash.

Speaking of surviving plane crashes, we'll meet another incredible story next when we talk with Morris Goodman. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: The book is "The Miracle Man". The author is Morris Goodman, an extraordinary story. He's known as the miracle man because Morris survived a plane crash that left him unable to speak, eat, or move. He overcame those injuries, and he said would keep him on a respirator for the rest of his life. He walked out of the hospital.

What happened? This was a single engine plane?

MORRIS GOODMAN, SURVIVED PLANE CRASH: Single engine plane, 1981, March 10. I took off for a pleasure flight. Never knew that it would change my life the way it did.

KING: Going from where to where?

GOODMAN: I was just flying around the area, just had flown the plane the day before...

KING: Where?

GOODMAN: In Chesapeake Bay, Cape Charles.

KING: What happened?

GOODMAN: I hit some power lines and crashed. And my neck was broken at the first and second cervical vertebrae. My spinal cord was crushed.

I mean, to put this in perspective, Christopher Reeves broke his neck at C2. I broke my neck at C1 and 2. My diaphragm was destroyed. I couldn't breathe. My larynx was forced -- crushed. I couldn't speak. My swallowing reflex was destroyed. I couldn't eat or drink. My bladder and kidneys were destroyed.

Everything in my body was destroyed. It felt as if I broke every bone and muscle in my body. Said I'd never do nothing again.

KING: How did you live?

GOODMAN: Well, you know, determination and the power of almighty God. At the time I wasn't a believer, but later on I became a very strong believer.

KING: We're seeing the picture of the crash. It's on the front cover of your book, as well, by the way. Do you remember the crash? Do you remember hearing...

GOODMAN: I remember very well. I remember the ground coming up. I don't remember anything for four days.

The first thing I remember, I woke up. There was a clock at the foot of my bed. And I can't describe how bad I hurt. You can't put it in words. And I couldn't think of trying to hold on for a week or a month or even a day. All I could think of was trying to hang on for a minute. So I said, my goal was to hang on for one minute, Morris.

And I remember that secondhand, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick. You can't imagine how long a minute can be. After one minute, I said, "OK, Morris, you made it one. Now let's go for two." That's the way I functioned.

KING: Walked out of the hospital how soon after?

GOODMAN: Eight months. I was hooked to a machine for eight months. All I could do was blink my eyes, once for yes and twice for no.

KING: How did the doctors explain it?

GOODMAN: Well, the doctors have no explanation. They said that I'd be a vegetable all my life. The most they offered my family was that I might, emphasize the word might, one day sit in a wheelchair and blink my eyes.

But you know, Larry, it wasn't what they thought. It didn't matter what they thought. What really was important was what I thought. KING: Yes, that's the power of positive thinking.

GOODMAN: That's the power. No question.

KING: You thought yourself better?

GOODMAN: Well, that and a lot of work. A lot of work.

KING: But you made yourself better. You had faith.

GOODMAN: Yes. The doctors don't know today how I function. Like I don't breathe with my diaphragm. It's destroyed. I taught myself to breathe with my stomach. They said it had never been done before.

I can't swallow food. My swallowing reflex doesn't work, but I think every time I eat, and think my food down.

KING: How do you get food? How do you get nourishment?

GOODMAN: I get it when I'm hungry.

KING: You say you can't swallow.

GOODMAN: No. I swallow. I think my food down.

KING: You're not supposed to swallow.

GOODMAN: Yes. I don't involuntarily swallow, yes.

KING: You think your food down.

GOODMAN: I think my food down. That's what I do.

KING: What do you do for a living?

GOODMAN: I go around the world speaking. I speak for companies all over the world. I've got 101 Fortune 500 company clients, got 43 multi-level clients. I just came back from Australia. I was there for three weeks speaking to 11 companies there. So that's what I do for a living.

KING: Do you still fly? Fly your own plane?

GOODMAN: Well, I fly commercially. One day I would like to. My wife said she's not going to fly with me. She won't even get in a car with me.

KING: But you want to fly again?

GOODMAN: I would like to fly, yes.

KING: Are you nervous when you're a passenger?

GOODMAN: No. I figure the chance of another crash is now one in a million. So lightning doesn't strike in the same place twice. I had a lady sitting by me on the plane, boy, that was all white knuckles and nerves. I said, "Ma'am." I said, "You don't have to be nervous." I said, "The chance of having another crash is now one in a million."

She said, "I don't think I should be on the plane with you."

KING: You are an amazing story. How do you explain it to yourself?

GOODMAN: Well, you know, I don't try and explain it to myself. I just accept what happened. But I know that people can do things that other people think are impossible to do if you think you can do them.

KING: Is that that old concept of what you think you can do you can do?

GOODMAN: Yes. I believe that man becomes what he thinks about.

KING: They ought to do a movie about this, huh?

GOODMAN: They ought to do a movie. And you know, that's my dream and goal, to have a major motion picture done about my life. I've been struggling with this for so long. I'm getting close now, but I don't have the right connection yet.

But my story is a story that would touch so many people.

KING: It sure would.

GOODMAN: It's a story of hope and inspiration and courage.

KING: Good luck to you, Morris.

GOODMAN: Thank you.

KING: An amazing story.

The book, "The Miracle Man", the guest Morris Goodman.

Tomorrow night, Bob Newhart and others.

Right now let's go to New York. Standing by is John King. He's about to host "AC 360", as he has so ably all week.

John, what's up tonight?

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