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Encore Presentation - Survivor Stories

Aired December 23, 2007 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, freefalling without a working parachute. Struck by lightning. Attacked by a great white.
What's it like to almost die?

Those who live to tell, tell their incredible survival stories.

It's next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening.

We've got an incredible show tonight.

We're joined by Todd Endris, who was nearly eaten alive by a great white shark. He survived thanks to some unlikely rescuers, and he'll tell us about it shortly.

But first, a near death plunge from an airplane -- what happens when your parachute doesn't work and the ground is coming toward you at 50 miles an hour?





KING: On October 9th, 2005, in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, Shayna -- Shayna West -- was making her first solo sky dive when things went suddenly wrong. Her parachute and reserve chute both failed to open. She spiraled out of control -- spiraled out of control, falling thousands of feet, landing face first in a parking lot. She's lived to tell her story.

Do you ever not think about this, Shayna?

SHAYNA WEST, FREEFALL ALMOST KILLED HER: It's hard not to. Every time you look in the mirror -- you know, I see visible differences. I still have aches and pains and there's not a moment goes by that I don't remember what I did.

KING: Now, Rick, you're her husband. You were once her instructor, right? RICK WEST, WITNESSED WIFE'S FREEFALL: Oh, yes, sir. That's -- that day was probably the most terrifying experience I've ever experienced in life (INAUDIBLE).

KING: But you first met as her instructor and then wound up marrying her, right?

R. WEST: Yes, she was first my student and afterwards we started dating and became good friends and (INAUDIBLE).

KING: All right, take us through that day, Shayna. That was your tenth jump, your first solo.

What happened?

S. WEST: Actually, it was my sixth solo. So I had done several solos before then. Now, this was the first one of this particular kind. It was called an AFF, which is an accelerated freefall. So it was it the first time I freefell by myself. And I had about 45 seconds of freefall. We jumped from 11,500 feet, free fell down to 5,000. And I deployed my first parachute. And at first, it all appeared to just be perfect. It was exactly what I wanted.

But in the process of doing some practice maneuvers, I lost control of my parachute. One of my toggles came unstowed and I didn't recognize the problem. And in a state of panic, I quickly and hastily cut away that parachute and deployed a reserve parachute -- which also ended up as a failed parachute, leaving me with no other choice.

KING: But to hit the ground.

Were they defective?

S. WEST: The first one technically would not have been defective. It just would have been a lack of experience on my part in that I didn't recognize my problem. Now, on the backup parachute, yes, it just straight up did not do what it was supposed to do and it came out faulty.

KING: Did you think, as you're falling, I'm going to die?

S. WEST: Oh, yes. Many times I thought for sure I was going to die. I think at the very first second, when I first saw my problem, I was maybe overly confident, just in the fact I didn't think my reserve could fail. And I really thought I could fix it. And I started working on it. I was doing what Rick was yelling at me to do and I also had an instructor on the ground who communicated to me through walkie- talkies, and I did everything he said to do.

And it was after attempting all these different alternatives to fixing it and they didn't work -- that's when I really realized that I had no other choice, I had no backup. Everything they were telling me to do didn't work and I really, truly saw my life ending. I didn't think there was any other option but to die.

KING: How did you feel, Rick, falling alongside her with your chute open witnessing this?

R. WEST: Oh, Larry, when I -- when I first saw it, it opened up -- I saw the reserve. I usually fall a little bit below the student and open at a different level. And I cleared my slider and I looked up and I, you know, in the video I'm saying well, that's my girl. And I thought everything was good. I stowed my slider and I looked back up and I saw her spinning. And at first, you know, I thought, well, man, you can't be spinning that reserve, you know?

That's not safe. You shouldn't be doing that. And after about the third or fourth spin, I thought man, she's not having fun here. She's actually having a problem. And then it set into me real quick that she's having a problem.

And I started thinking, well, what can I do, you know -- what can I do to try to help my student here?

She came down spinning past me. So I held the brakes and let her spin past me. And she come down past me, and that's when I started the screaming you hear in the video. It was, "Pump your brakes, pump your brakes." I'm trying to clear that slider to fix the parachute.

KING: Shayna, do you remember hitting the ground?

S. WEST: I don't remember hitting the ground. I remember knowing I was going to. And I remember kind of just giving up the fight and not fighting the parachute anymore. So I knew it was coming. I knew it was something I had no control over. But the actual impact itself, you know, praise God, I don't remember that.

KING: Now, you had shattered bones in your face, a broken pelvis, a broken leg, 15 metal plates were inserted into your skull to rebuild your face.

Do you need anymore surgeries?

S. WEST: I'm still looking for plastic surgery because the drastic amount of bone loss that I lost in my cheeks, it actually prevents my eyes from shutting all the way. My lower eyelids kind of droop and sag. Actually, my mom thinks it's really funny to say I have cocker spaniel eyes, because...

R. WEST: Yes, she does that.

S. WEST: ...they just -- they kind of sag down a little bit. And, of course, I have the scarring that I would like to get revised. So, yes, I still need some more surgery...

KING: You're in...

S. WEST: ...and I'm hoping to find a way to get that done.

KING: You're in Republic, Missouri. There may be some plastic surgeon who lives close by.

Are you near Missouri? S. WEST: In Missouri. I'll go -- I'd go anywhere.


S. WEST: I would go anywhere.

KING: Are you near St. Louis?

S. WEST: Not far.

KING: Maybe we can...

S. WEST: Not far from St. Louis.

KING: Maybe we can help you. We've got a few plastic surgeons here in Beverly Hills, I've heard. And maybe...


KING: Maybe we can help you.

S. WEST: Oh, I would love that.

KING: When did you discover (INAUDIBLE)...

S. WEST: I've already been very blessed because I had a doctor in New Jersey -- I lost five teeth, also. And a doctor in New Jersey just found it in his heart to help me out with that and gave me about $30,000 in dental implants...

KING: And then -- and here's...

S. WEST: ...and that was Dr. Melzer (ph).

KING: And here's the kicker.

S. WEST: Dr. Melzer in New Jersey.

KING: You were pregnant, right?

You were pregnant?

S. WEST: I was two weeks pregnant...

R. WEST: She was.

S. WEST: ...yes, with my little boy, who is now 18 months old. His name is Tanner and I was two weeks pregnant with him that day.

KING: Do you ever watch the film, Shayna?

S. WEST: Oh, all the time, yes. I've seen that footage...

R. WEST: Yes, I do, too.

S. WEST: ...maybe even more than I would care to. I've seen it. We actually talked about it a lot right at the very beginning, so I could understand what happened. Because I think the most frightening thing of it was at first I just really didn't know what I had done wrong. I didn't know what had happened and how it happened. And so it was really a very important...

KING: We're going to...

S. WEST: ...part for me to see it.

KING: Stay us, Shayna, because you'll be back later in the show.

When we come back, Todd Endris will join us. He was attacked by a great white shark while surfing.

I think he went surfing today.

Todd is not too well.

We'll be right back.


KING (voice-over): Coming up, you're on a sinking ship. The water is rising fast. It was a real life nightmare for passengers of a cruise ship.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're abandoning ship.



KING: But next, a great white shark sets his sights on a surfer.

TODD ENDRIS, NEARLY EATEN ALIVE BY SHARK: He latched on to my leg -- he actually swallowed my leg. He had me so I was like bam, bam -- like kicking him with my heel.




ENDRIS: And I started trying to paddle away from him. And then he latched onto my torso and my board kind of sandwiched me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was under probably four seconds. Then he came up and there was just blood everywhere.


KING: We're joined now by Todd Endris, attacked by a great white shark while surfing. He credits, by the way, a pod of dolphins with helping save his life.

That was August 28th of what year?

ENDRIS: That was this year.

KING: This year?

ENDRIS: It was about 14 weeks ago.

KING: Are -- are you -- do you work in the water?

Is -- was there...

ENDRIS: Well, I own a small business called Monterey Aquarium Services. So, yes, I work -- I work with ocean water and marine animals

KING: What happened that day?

ENDRIS: Oh, man, I actually didn't have too much to do. It was my dad's birthday, so I was going to celebrate with my folks. And so I was surfing late in the morning and didn't have anything to do. And I had caught a wave and paddled back out and it hit me really, really hard. I got about 20 miles an hour.

KING: Did you know right away what it was?

ENDRIS: I knew exactly what it was. It's kind of unmistakable. It's like getting hit by a car, Larry. It's, you know, he hit me about 20 miles an hour. And it's between 2,500 to 3,000 pounds, is what they're estimating. It was a 15-foot shark so.

KING: He hit you with his teeth?

ENDRIS: Well, the first time he didn't fit me in his mouth, thank god. He came really fast and didn't take into account what was above the water, which was half my body, and couldn't fit me in his mouth. And I flew about 15 feet. And then he latched onto my torso as I was trying to get away and shook -- shook me really, really violently. And I was managing to hit him in the face with my left fist and after that...

KING: (INAUDIBLE) you hurt him?

ENDRIS: I -- you can't, really. It's like the size of a car. If you think about it, they say a 16-foot shark I -- at its widest point is six feet deep and eight feet wide. So at its widest point it's as big as a Suburban. So if you're hitting a 3,000-pound animal, I don't really think it's doing a whole lot but...

KING: Were you in a lot of pain?

ENDRIS: I was in no instant pain because it severed all the nerves. It fileted my back off. It's unfortunate, actually, you can't show the really gory pictures on national television, because that would kind of tell the story. I know you saw the pictures and it really, it just...

KING: They are horrendous.

ENDRIS: It took my back off like a banana peel, pretty much.

KING: Did you think you bought it?

ENDRIS: Did I buy it?

KING: Yes.

The life, was it over?

ENDRIS: Well you know what?

That never crossed my mind. And that's what I think kept me from going into shock. I -- you know, I'm a fighter and I didn't really want to die.

KING: What saved you?

ENDRIS: Dolphins saved me. My friends saved me. The lord saved me. Luck saved me.

KING: How did the dolphins save you?

ENDRIS: OK. There was a pod of dolphins out there the whole time I was surfing, for about a half hour. And once I got attacked, they really sprung into action. If you ask the four witnesses, they were saying that the dolphins were jumping over my head and fluking the water, slapping the water with their tails...

KING: Trying to get the shark to go away?

ENDRIS: ...distracting the shark, maybe threatening the shark...

KING: They're amazing.

ENDRIS: Absolutely amazing. This is why we're trying to stop that whole Japanese dolphin slaughter thing. It's appalling, actually.

KING: Yes.

ENDRIS: It's appalling.

KING: So they saved you?

ENDRIS: They definitely saved me. There's not a doubt in my mind.

KING: And what did the friends do?

ENDRIS: The friends saved me, also. They, you know, stopped my bleeding. By the time I had gotten to the shore, I had lost about half of my blood. The wounds were tremendous, as you saw. And thank God for Brian Simpson. He was -- he has experience in the medical field. He's an x-ray technician. And once I got to the beach, he went right into action and started -- tied a tourniquet around my leg, which the shark got really badly, and put pressure on my back to keep me from bleeding more than I did.

KING: Still no pain?

ENDRIS: There's pain. But...

KING: I mean at this moment (INAUDIBLE)...

ENDRIS: Oh, at that moment, no, I didn't have a lot of pain. The pain didn't start until about 10 minutes after the whole incident, when I was in the ambulance.

KING: Did they ever think you might lose a leg?

ENDRIS: You know, all my friends thought I was going to die. The lifeguards thought I was going to die. They were telling other friends who had rushed to the beach when they heard about it that -- to go see me in the hospital, because they didn't think I was going to make it.

So I mean I don't know -- losing a leg was not the biggest part of what was happening at that point. They just wanted to save my life.

KING: Which they did.

ENDRIS: Which they did. Joe Jansen paddled toward me instead of away from me when the attack was happening -- into the blood ring. It was amazing. He's an amazingly brave -- you know, I shouldn't be here, Larry. I really shouldn't.

KING: This was in Monterey, right?

ENDRIS: This was in Monterey, yes. That's...

KING: It's a beautiful part of the country.

ENDRIS: Beautiful, but obviously dangerous.

KING: You surf again?

ENDRIS: I surf. I do. I got into the water six weeks after the whole attack happened -- six weeks to the day, actually, and surfed the same place just to, you know, try to conquer the fear with one of my best friends. And it was definitely a harrowing experience, as well. Like I was -- my heart was pumping the whole time, that's for sure.

KING: Did you surf recently?

ENDRIS: I surfed yesterday. And before that, I was up in Tahoe snowboarding. I have a couple months off after all this happens.

KING: Why would you surf again?

ENDRIS: Because it's my passion, you know?

It's the same with anything that you love. You know, it's really hard to give up. You can't just -- you can't stop your passion. You can't stop it. It's impossible. I love it. I would never -- I would never want to live my life without surfing.

KING: When you surf, do you think of sharks?

ENDRIS: I do. I thought about sharks before this happened and now it's...

KING: Good thinking (ph).

ENDRIS: it's just a little bit more prominent in my mind. It's here instead of back here.

KING: Todd will be coming back with us at the end of the show, as well.

ENDRIS: Larry, thanks.

KING: Todd Endris -- what a -- what an incredible story.

You're watching LARRY KING LIVE.

We'll be right back.


KING (voice-over): As we go to break, take a look at this -- a man's only cover from gunfire is a tree. Pretty incredible.

But when we come back, struck by lightning -- it really could happen to you.





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just was out of nowhere -- just one bolt. Crack and just -- it got her right on the top of her head.

LARSEN: She was turning blue. And I was like, oh, Laura. I picked her up and I said, "Stay with me. Stay with me."





LARSEN: My daughter. She's been struck by lightning.


LARSEN: Yes, I have. But I think she's gone. I think she's gone.


KING: In October, Laura Eustermann was outside with her family in Boise, Idaho, and she was hit by a bolt of lightning. The bolt burned her entire body, caused her to go into cardiac arrest.

Kathy Larsen, Laura's mother, performed CPR on the scene and was able to save her daughter's life.

You're outside with your kids, right?

Did you see a storm coming?

LAURA EUSTERMANN, STRUCK BY LIGHTNING: From what I've been told -- because I don't remember much of the incident at all -- I apparently did look up to the sky and I told my mom -- I said, you know, I think we'd better head to the car, but certainly not because of lightning. You know, I just didn't want us getting wet.

KING: Was there a thunderstorm?

Was it raining, Kathy?

LARSEN: There was no rain. There was no were thunder. There was no warning at all.

KING: You remember nothing?

EUSTERMANN: I remember nothing.

KING: Nothing?

EUSTERMANN: I don't remember being there. I don't remember waking -- well, no, I guess I don't remember waking up in the hospital.

KING: Did you see it hit her?

LARSEN: Actually, I -- my face was turned away when it actually struck her. And when I turned around, I -- there was this big crack of lightning and a flash of lightning. And it wasn't the usual jagged kind of lightning. It was just like a like an icicle. And it was just was there instantly and then just faded.

KING: Hit her in the head?

LARSEN: I don't know. I think it -- I think it struck her cell phone that was in her pocket. And from there, I think it went out her head and her feet.

KING: Do you remember anything -- when -- what's the next thing you remember after you're looking up and you say you think the weather might be bad, what's the next thing you remember?

EUSTERMANN: The next thing that I remember is going for a walk outside the hospital with my mom in a wheelchair and commenting on what a beautiful day it was.

KING: You're in a wheelchair now.

EUSTERMANN: I'm in a wheelchair now.

KING: For how long?

EUSTERMANN: Nobody knows. Lightning strikes are so rare -- especially direct ones -- that everybody's just kind of wait and see.

KING: Are you paralyzed?

EUSTERMANN: No. I mean, I'm learning how to walk right now.

KING: How did you know to do CPR?

LARSEN: Well, about four years ago, I took a course and learned how to do CPR. And apparently in between times, why, the technique had changed, and I wasn't aware of that. So I just went ahead and did what I was taught.

KING: How fast did they respond to the 9/11 call?

LARSEN: It seemed like that they got there probably in about 10 minutes.

KING: And got her right to the hospital, right?

LARSEN: That's right.

KING: Now, Laura is in a coma for five days?

LARSEN: Well, more like two-and-a-half weeks.

KING: Two-and-a-half weeks?


KING: Did you think you were going to lose her?

LARSEN: Oh, I had thought she was gone then, but I just went ahead and kept up with the CPR until the ambulance arrived and they had gotten all their equipment out ready to take over.

KING: Do you remember anything about the coma?

EUSTERMANN: I don't. I don't. I mean it -- the lightning zapped my -- my nerves just went all catty wampus (ph) and no, I don't remember a thing.

KING: So what do you make of this as you now relive it afterward?

EUSTERMANN: It is so weird to see the videos and talk with my family and hear about what went on. It just amazes me. And it's so hard to believe. But when I can't get out of bed in the morning, I -- it comes -- it comes right back to me. KING: How old are your children?

EUSTERMANN: Oh, I've got four of them. I've got a 3-year old, a 5-year old, a 12-year old and a 14-year old.

KING: Were they with you?

EUSTERMANN: Just the two youngest.

KING: The three and the five?


KING: Did they see anything?

EUSTERMANN: They saw some. You know, I don't believe that they saw the lightning strike. But they certainly saw what was going on with me after.

KING: Were they screaming?

EUSTERMANN: They were saying, "Mommy's dead, mommy's dead."

KING: Did she go right down?

LARSEN: Well, yes. What happened is when the crack and the lightning went past me, I fell back on my tush. And when I got back up again, she wasn't standing. So I knew then that she had been struck.

KING: What after effects have you had from this?

You obviously have -- you're not able to walk yet.


KING: What else?

EUSTERMANN: I've had to relearn how to do everything.

When I first was conscious, I couldn't move my arms or my legs or anything. So I've just been having to relearn how to do every little thing. And you really have to focus on every little motion that you make, every step that you take, everything.

KING: What do the doctors say will happen?

Will you walk?

EUSTERMANN: They're not sure. They're hopeful. My progress has been very rapid so far. So they're hopeful that I will. But, you know, with some really good therapy, I'm -- I'm sure I can.

KING: Do you set off alarms in airports?



KING: Is electricity part of you?

EUSTERMANN: No. No. I wish I could say something exciting like that actually happens, but no.

KING: Did her color change?

There's a burn factor with lightning, isn't there?

LARSEN: There is. Immediately what happened was she started turning blue. And that's when I was really, really concerned, because I had to make a decision to leave her or not to get my cell phone, because my cell phone was up at the top of the hill in the car. And I knew it was going to take me three to five minutes to get there and so -- but I knew that I couldn't stay there out in the country, you know, giving her CPR all the time, you know, so I had to do it.

KING: So you went and got it?

LARSEN: I went and got it.

KING: Leaving her with the two kids?

LARSEN: The two kids I had sent down to a house, to have them see if somebody was home to get us some help.

KING: They must have been scared.

LARSEN: They were. But they -- they minded grandma just wonderfully.

KING: You've got gumption, by the way. You'll do fine.

Thank you both.

EUSTERMANN: Thank you.

KING: Whew, what a story.

More coming.

Don't go away.


KING (voice-over): Up next, your life flashes in front of you when you think you're about to drown.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh my gosh, I'm so scared. Oh, I'm so scared.

KING: How did scores of people get out of this mess?

Find out when LARRY KING LIVE continues.




LISA PAISOLA, PASSENGER: Our ship is cutting through this ice right now. The whole ship just moves. Is that crazy?

OK, the captain has called an emergency. The floor's leaking. Oh, my gosh, I'm so scared. I'm so scared.

We're abandoning ship. We can't get away from the boat.


KING: It was a startling sight seen around the world, a cruise ship carrying 154 passengers hit an iceberg and went down off the coast of Antarctica. Amazingly, everyone survived, but not without some sheer moments of terror.

We're joined by Lisa Paisola. She survived this incredible incident and caught it all on tape, first what happened before we look at some of the tape, what happened? You're cruising along, what happened? Where were you going, from where to where?

PAISOLA: From Argentina down to Antarctica. And I had actually been on the bridge about ten minutes or so before the ship hit the iceberg

KING: This is like Titanic.

PAISOLA: Yes, it's just like the Titanic. And every place we go, everything we hear, it has to do with the Titanic.

KING: Did you feel it hit?

PAISOLA: We were going through some very different ice. So we knew that there was a probability of a problem. So I had been up on the bridge about ten minutes before it happened. And we were going through and cutting through the ice. And so we felt that there might be a bit of a problem.

KING: When it hit though, what happened?

PAISOLA: Well, when it hit, we were in our cabins and the captain came on. And they said, you know, this is not a drill. You need to get on your Arctic wear and you need to come up to the muster station. And Larry, I'm a cruiser. I am a world traveler. This was my seventh continent. I'm very experienced traveling. And at this point, you know, I knew we were in trouble. We were in deep, deep trouble.

And I knew it in the heart of my soul, and in my soul of souls, my inside --

KING: You think fast and start taping it? PAISOLA: Yes, I did. I knew we were in trouble and I had documented this whole day for some reason -- and it was the only day that was fully documented.

KING: You have one of these waterproof cameras?

PAISOLA: I do. I actually bought this Olympus waterproof camera with a life jacket on it, that I had purchased when I went to Morocco in June. I thought I would do some scuba diving and snorkeling and be able to document it. But I happened to have it with me.

KING: So you filmed the whole thing, the ship tipping halfway over, the rescue.

PAISOLA: The rescue, I filmed everything. I filmed us actually going up to the muster station. I had the water on the floor. I had all kinds of different filming, because I was documenting my death for my family.

KING: You were doing a narration?

PAISOLA: At times, yes, I was. I really did think I was going to die and I wanted my family to see what I had gone through.

KING: What was it like when the ship was halfway tilted?

PAISOLA: It was pretty scary, because we were going through ice still and we were afraid that we weren't going to be able to get the life boats down, and then there wouldn't be enough life boats for everyone, like the Titanic. However, the captain was brilliant. He got us through the ice and we hit a second iceberg. And that's when we lost control of the ship and actually hit into another berg.

I had that documented, as well. And I actually have the ship hitting the iceberg.

KING: You have a film. You have a film.


KING: How were you rescued?

PAISOLA: We were rescued by the Chilean Air Force, and they came in and got us from Antarctica, after we had been rescued by the rescue ship that had come about ten hours. In Antarctica, that's a very close neighbor. We were very blessed to have a ship that close to us. It was just absolutely amazing.

KING: You went off one ship onto the other?

PAISOLA: After about six hours in the ice cold Antarctic waters; and they were uncovered life boats. They were very exposed. We had water coming in on us. We were very cold, very --

KING: Were you still taping then.


KING: You're a little nuts.

PAISOLA: I am. But it was my way of connecting with my family. We had some time in the muster station and I had e-mailed my family. I had e-mailed all of them good-bye letters. I told them loved them. I sent my will. I knew it was my time to go.

KING: So you were in the water about six hours.


KING: And along comes the ship.

PAISOLA: Yes, we were in the life boats for six hours.

KING: How did the Air Force get involved.

PAISOLA: After we were rescued by the ship, they took us to the Uruguayan Scientific Research Center, still in Antarctica. We spent a night there, and then they took us by a Snowcat over to the Chilean Military Scientific Research Center. We spent another night there, and then, finally, the Chilean Air Force flew into Antarctica to get us. We were rescued by them.

They brought in two Hercules helicopters two consecutive days, and I was on the last day.

KING: Eventually -- where did that cruise begin.

PAISOLA: It began in Ushuaya (ph), Argentina, which is the southern-most point in the entire world.

KING: The what most point?

PAISOLA: The southern-most point.

KING: And they took you back there and then what, you flew home from there?

PAISOLA: No, they actually took us to Punta Arinas (ph), which is southern Chile, and they took us there, and then they flew us home.

KING: Would you cruise again?

PAISOLA: You know, I don't know. I'm not sure. I'm still trying to decide where my future holds. Like I said, I'm an avid traveler.

KING: You're a world traveler.

PAISOLA: I am. This was my last continent. I was really looking forward to hitting there. We came very close. I've been into some Antarctic waters.

KING: How many in a raft. PAISOLA: In our raft, I think we counted 33 in an open life boat. And some --

KING: Anybody panic?

PAISOLA: No, we were about -- I don't know dates or times. I don't have a real sense of time. But we were in there about 12, 14 days on ship at this point. And we knew everybody. We knew the crew. We knew the staff. We knew each other. And we knew if any of us panicked, we would be in trouble.

So we all worked together. If one was lost, it would never have been the same.

KING: Only six hours, so you weren't worried about food?

PAISOLA: No, we weren't worried about food. It was hypothermia. It was a whale coming by and tipping over our life boat, or the iceberg. We were floating into an iceberg. We were oaring because our actual propeller on our life boat didn't work.

KING: Up to that point, was it a fun cruise.

PAISOLA: It was miraculous. It was so wonderful, penguins and dolphins and whales and sea lions and seals.

KING: Look at that.

PAISOLA: Incredible. That's my ship.

KING: Lisa, I'm taking you on the next trip.

PAISOLA: Anytime, Larry.

KING: Lisa Paisola. What a story. More coming, don't go away.


KING: Had you to see this one to believe it. We'll be joined next by the man who really did live to tell about almost dying.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jerry Curry, a lawyer, walked out of a southern California courtroom and into a horror story.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First aid kit. We need a first aid kit over here ASAP.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The man with the gun is William Stryer (ph), who is angry at Curry, angry about legal work Curry had done for him, angry enough to kill, or at least try to. (END VIDEO CLIP

KING: In October of 2003, Jerry Curry was attacked by a gunman in broad daylight outside a southern California court house. He was shot several times at close range. The shooting was caught on tape and broadcast around the country. How you doing now, Jerry.

JERRY CURRY, VICTIM: I'm doing good, thank you.

KING: How did this happen?

CURRY: This was a case that involved a trust and actually, my client was a professional trustee. Mr. Stryer was the beneficiary of a trust and we had a court hearing that day. It was after that hearing that that was shot.

KING: He had a bad time at the hearing.

CURRY: Interestingly enough, he was not at the hearing. He never attended. There were two hearings. His sister attended but he wasn't there. I had never seen him before.

KING: So he came on hearsay?

CURRY: Apparently.

KING: How many times were you shot.

CURRY: A total of five times.

KING: Did you see it coming?

CURRY: No, when I came out of the court house, I was walking down to go to my car. And I turned to go to the parking structure and this man, whom I had never seen before, walked up and said, are you Mr. Curry? I said yes, who are you? Then I just heard an incredibly loud pop or bang. I didn't know at the time he had shot me in the neck. He shot me point blank in the neck. And after that, I just kind of turned and went to the ground, instinctively went to the ground and tried to scramble away on all fours.

And I got up to run, and I saw the tree. I ran behind the tree. And for a period of probably -- I would say five seconds -- I could see him approach me with a gun outstretched. And he began firing. And I was just trying to keep my head and my torso protected from the gun, so if he went to one side, I went to the other side.

KING: How many times were you hit?

CURRY: I was hit a total of five times.

KING: All that press was there for the Robert Blake trial.

CURRY: The reason the press was there was that Blake was there that particular day, and they were waiting for him to come out of the court house. When I came out and he started shooting, then the guys picked up on the video and taped it.

KING: Who shot the video, a local station.

CURRY: I think it was -- I think CNN was there, Court TV, maybe some others.

KING: Doctors say you're lucky to be alive, that the gun barrage missed your heart and lungs and the bullets in the arms missed important arteries, and, most amazingly, the first shot lodged less than an inch from your spinal cord.

CURRY: That's correct. Yes, the first shot -- he shot me right here on the outside of my neck. And that bullet traveled all the way back and lodged right next to my spinal column. And the emergency room doctor said if the bullet had been a half an inch further in, it would have struck the carotid artery, and I would have bled to death in a couple minutes.

KING: What happened to the assailant.

CURRY: He was convicted of attempted murder last year and he is now in prison. And he will serve at least 29 years, I'm told by the DA.

KING: Did you have to testify.

CURRY: I did have to testify, yes.

KING: Was that difficult or not?

CURRY: Not that difficult. I'm a lawyer, so I've been in court many times. So I knew what I had to say. The D.A. prepared me for my testimony, so it wasn't that difficult.

KING: This change your life at all.

CURRY: I don't think it's changed me that much. I'm a fairly normal guy. I'm careful -- I'm more careful now, I think. When have I situations where someone threatens my client or myself, I'm a lot more aware of the fact that that might be a situation where I might be hurt. So I'm more careful, definitely.

KING: Did you feel the bullets?

CURRY: I didn't feel pain, but I could feel the impact. When I was behind the tree, I could feel like a thud, like the bullets hitting my arm. But there was no pain at that time. I would say within about ten or 15 minutes in the ambulance, I started to feel kind of a dull pain, but not too bad.

KING: Did you need surgery.

CURRY: Yes, I needed to have surgery. One shot was in my right forearm, which damaged the tendons and muscles in the arm. So I had surgery the following day. And the arm was in a cast for about a month, and I had physical therapy after that. KING: Would you say the guys was a poor shot.

CURRY: He definitely was a poor shot, absolutely, fortunately for me.

KING: Thanks, Jerry. You'll be coming back.

CURRY: Thank you.

KING: Jerry Curry, in our incredible night of people facing incredible situations. Anderson Cooper, who's covered a lot of scenes like this, is with us. He's going to host "AC 360" at the top of the hour. Anderson, what's up?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Larry, tonight on 360, with just two weeks -- a little more than two to go before the Iowa caucuses, Hillary Clinton is not where she hoped to be. Tonight, we look at the Bill and Hill show. The campaign's pulling out all their big guns. And for Hillary Clinton, there's really only one, former President Bill Clinton. But is Iowa and really America ready for the Clinton combo package? And is he actually shaping the issues for the Clinton campaign?

We'll dig deeper into that tonight.

Plus, are you getting a Christmas bonus? I can almost guarantee it isn't what some of the folks down on Wall Street are getting this year, never mind the troubles markets and the mortgage crisis; these people are getting paid. We'll tell you how much at the top of the hour. You will not believe it, Larry. That's on 360 at 10:00.

KING: That's "AC 360," 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 Pacific, and we'll be right back. Don't go away.

Tomorrow night, a "LARRY KING LIVE" exclusive, from death row, Damien Echols, convicted in the brutal slayings of three young boys, but recent DNA evidence has raised questions about his guilt. Decide for yourself tomorrow night on "LARRY KING LIVE."


KING: Joining us now in New York is Dr. Ken Kamler, doctor and author who explores the secrets of survival in extreme circumstances. His new book is "Surviving The Extremes." And returning some of our guests, Todd Endris, who was attacked by a great white shark. He's in L.A. And in Republic, Missouri is Shayna West, whose parachute failed to open, along with her husband Rick West.

All right, Ken, on an overall approach, then we'll discuss this individually, what do you make of these people?

RICK KAMLER, AUTHOR, "SURVIVING THE EXTREMES": What you see here, Larry, is an incredible ability of the human body to survive what really should somebody unsurvivable circumstances. The body has a lot of mechanisms that aren't really apparent to people, but they're very subtle but very powerful. These mechanisms allow people to survive in circumstances they would never expect.

KING: Is there -- let's take Shayna's case. She's free-falling down, no parachute. She's going to hit the ground. It's concrete. How do you explain that?

KAMLER: Shayna hit the ground at 50 miles an hour. The human body is not designed in nature to ever encounter that kind of an impact. But, yet, what made the difference for Shayna was that she hit head first in such a way that the impact was taken up by her facial bones and her skull and her pelvis. Those are very strong bones. And when those bones break, they absorb a lot of impact. Had those bones not broken, she probably would have died, because the next stop would have been her brain. If the impact had hit her brain -- the brain is a soft tissue. It can't really absorb that kind of impact.

And the pelvis, again there, also was able to absorb a tremendous amount of impact. And because it broke, it absorbed that impact, and it was not transmitted to her fetus. That allowed her to survive and her fetus to survive.

KING: Shayna, do you feel lucky?

WEST: Oh, I feel blessed, very blessed. I shouldn't be alive today and I am.

KING: The doctor is saying that, in effect, your bones saved you.

WEST: Yes, yes. That makes -- that makes sense.

KAMLER: Had her bones not broken, she would have been worse off. She probably would not be alive to tell the story today.

KING: What about Mr. Endris, who was bitten by a great white shark.

KAMLER: Todd demonstrates an interesting phenomenon. There's a subtle power within the body to squelch pain. When you have a massive injury, such as Todd had, or such as Jerry had, they don't need to be told that they're in trouble. If you have a small injury like a splinter under your finger, your body gives you a pain signal to let you know that you're having a problem and you'd better take care of it.

In a case like Todd's or a case like Jerry's --

KING: You mean Shayna?

KAMLER: Shayna too, yes. Their injury is so massive that the pain signal, if it was in proportion to their injury, it would impede their ability to function. They wouldn't be able to swim out of the water or do what it took to save themselves. So your body has this natural tendency to squelch the pain and allow you to act in a rational logical way. As Todd said himself, he didn't feel the pain until he was in the ambulance, in a situation where he was then protected and was no longer in immediate survival danger.

So the pain was then able to come back, but it was kept low because he needed to have that ability to think without the interference of pain.

KING: And the Jerry you were talking about was Jerry Curry, who will be with us in the next segment. Todd, do you feel lucky.

ENDRIS: I'm so lucky. I'm the most blessed human, as far as I'm concerned. I should not be here.

KING: Does the doctor make sense.

ENDRIS: The doctor makes sense, but I also know that all my nerves were severed instantly when this happened. If he had seen the before pictures, he would realize that I was really filleted off, and I think that a lot of those -- since those nerves were severed, they weren't able to register that type of pain, which was -- I should have been having.

KING: If there were a lot of pain, doctor, can pain kill you?

KAMLER: Pain itself can't kill you, but pain can paralyze your ability to function. If pain signals the flooding of your brain, then you don't have the circuits available to make your muscles move, to keep your head thinking clearly. It's kind of an interference pattern, which would prevent you from being able to do the things you need to do to survive.

KING: Thank you so much, Shayna. We're going to work on that plastic surgeon. Rick, thank you so much for being with us.

Todd will remain and Dr. Kamler will remain. A few other of our guests will come back in our remaining segment. Don't go away.


KING: Dr. Ken Kamler remains, so does Todd Endris. Returning is Lara Eustermann, struck by lightning, and Jerry Curry, the lawyer attacked by a gunman. All right, Dr. Kamler, what about Lara and lightning.

KAMLER: Lara and lightning is generally a deadly combination. The human brain has -- is an incredible mass of electrical circuits. But it only weighs 2.5 pounds, and it only puts out about 25 watts, which is no match for a bolt of lightning. So when lightning struck, she was essentially short circuited, besides being burned, and her electrical signals went haywire, if they were functioning at all. And that -- since the electrical signals are necessary to make the heart beat, her heart stopped. And her mother was able to revive it by doing CPR, which is sort of like turning a crank on a car to get it going again.

The heart has an intrinsic ability to beat if you can stimulate it and get it going. Her mother was able to do it and that saved her life. KING: Lara, did that read it right.

EUSTERMANN: That's absolutely right.

KING: Do you think she might recover and walk.

KAMLER: I think so. She's young enough and the brain and the body has a lot of built-in ability to restore itself with a lot of training. She can get herself going again. She's like a machine right now that isn't plugged in, but as she gets more plugged in, her circuits are going to start firing. I think she stands a great chance of making a full recovery.

KING: How about our friend Mr. Curry and all those bullets?

KAMLER: Mr Curry was an example of someone who was able to keep his head, despite being in a desperate situations. He felt the impact of the bullets, didn't feel the pain, but was able to keep his smarts and save himself by hiding behind a tree, which takes an incredible amount of concentration, given the desperate situation he was in.

KING: Is he right, Jerry? Do you feel as you look back.

CURRY: Yes, he's absolutely right. I didn't feel any pain. And I did feel some pain later on, but the time I was being shot, I didn't feel the pain at all.

KING: Do you walk outside, Lara, when it's a rain storm, lightning storm, thunderstorm?

EUSTERMANN: You know, I haven't yet. I think I'm going to be a little bit leery of them.

KING: Dr. Kamler, our friend Todd says he has gone surfing since.

KAMLER: I admire him for that. That's the way it should be. He's got something he loves to do and he shouldn't stop himself from doing it. I think that's just great.

KING: Do you have more fear than prior to the shark attack.

ENDRIS: Oh, yes, it's definitely in the front of my mind now. Before it's something you always think about. I live in the red triangle, which is a place where there's a lot of sea lions rookeries and sharks. And now it's just something I think about every day, and I stress about being the farthest person out in the water.

KING: Dr. Kamler, we only have 35 seconds left. What fascinates you so much about this subject.

KAMLER: What fascinates me is the ability of the human body to survive is just beyond what anyone can ever imagine. The more you study it, the more you get amazed at what the body is capable of doing in desperate situations. When people are faced with these kind of life-threatening situations, they rise to levels they don't even know are within them. It brings out qualities they don't even know they have and makes them all the better for it.

If you can survive this kind of experience, it will change your life in a very positive way

KING: I thank all of our guests for a show not only of extraordinary visual effects, but the extraordinary aspect of the human body and courage. Thank you all very much. Thank you, Dr. Kamler, for adding so much knowledge to this.

KAMLER: Thank you, Larry.

KING: We want to congratulate CNN anchor Campbell Brown. She gave birth to her first child this morning, eight pound baby boy. Campbell and her husband Dan named him Eli. Mom, Dad and the baby are all doing well.

Hey, by the way, check out all the courses you can check out at We're everywhere. You can download our current pod casts, e-mail upcoming guests, participate in quick votes. If you have a webcam or cell phone, you could even send us a video mail. It's all at

Tomorrow night, what a show, a jail house interview with a man on death row. Damien Echols will tell his story. As the clock strikes 10:00 Eastern, that can only mean one thing, Anderson Cooper and "AC 360," Anderson.