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N.Y. Times: Pilot Banged On Cockpit Door, Couldn't Get In; N.Y. Times: One Pilot Locked Out OF Cockpit Before Crash; N.Y. Times: Pilot Tries To Smash The Cockpit Door Down; SGT. Bowe Bergdahl Charged With Desertion; Severe Weather Strikes Oklahoma; U.S. Airstrikes On ISIS In Tikrit; Reports: Yemen President Flees; Sinkhole Swallows Bus.

Aired March 25, 2015 - 21:00   ET


[21:00:19] ANDERSON COOPER, AC360 HOST: Good evening. Thanks for joining us. It's 9 p.m. here in New York, 2 a.m. in the French Alps where recovery crews today begin a grime (ph) work of airlifting the remains of 150 people from the crash site of Germanwings Flight 9525.

Now we have some stunning breaking news that could completely change our view of exactly what happen. Reporting in the New York times, citing a senior military official from the airbus A320's voice recorder that one pilot had left the flight deck, prior to the crash and one was unable to get back in. Now the times according to the official, an investigator is saying, "The guy outside is knocking lightly on the door and there's no answer. And then he hits the door stronger and no answer, there's never an answer. You can hear he's trying smash the door down."

Again, this is the New York Times reporting. Lufthansa is not commenting on it, we haven't been able to independently verify the time he's reporting. Joining us today tonight, CNN's safety analyst David Soucie, CNN aviation correspondent, Richard Quest and Chief Medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, one of the things that we have been talking about over the last hour, I mean there is really two main, I guess ideas behind this if the New York Times reporting is correct, according to what this investigator said, based on the flight voice recorder that is something nefarious, the pilot wanting to bring the plane down and not answering the calls of the other pilot banging the door down -- trying to bang the door down or some sort of medical emergency.

Does the medical explanation make sense to you? If there was a medical emergency, would there be some sound of that?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNNCHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's what I would wonder, how sensitive the audio recording from inside the cockpit would be if somebody suddenly would have a medical emergency, that was to suddenly incapacitate somebody.

COOPER: A heart attack, a brain aneurysm.

GUPTA: You think heart and brain, doesn't really -- it could be something like a pulmonary embolism as well, possibly. But typically with this things, people might have some period of distress, it might even be a short period of time, just even a few seconds possibly, someone suddenly experiences pain, for example from a rupture aneurysm in the brain, from chest pain, that's part of a heart attack.

The idea that somebody would have some sound as a result to that, even yell out or in some way or try and make it known. It seems like something that might have happen. The idea that somebody would go from speaking smoothly, as I read in that same report, to shortly thereafter being suddenly incapacitated, just unable to make any noise, whatsoever, not respond in anyway.

Is it possible? Yes. It seems a little less likely though to not have some sort of evidence of this, if there's sensitive enough audio.

COOPER: And Richard Quest, I mean we don't know the details of why this one pilot would have left the cockpit but it's very possible just something as simple as when you go in the bathroom.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's a short flight from Bastia and up to Dusseldorf, there were 30 minutes into the flight, they were just got into the cruise portion of the flight, the safest part, where nothing really happens, except you monitor the system as the plane moves forward.

If you're going to go to the bathroom on an hour and a half to our flight, that's the sort of time you're going to go and do it, before you get busy, before you start having to do your descent in very busy aspects.

COOPER: Do all airlines have the same protocol of never having somebody so low in the cockpit?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: I just learn that just recently tonight that they don't. It is different and it shows -- it's indicative of what happens in the international world as far as aviation goes, these standards are standards and practices are set ICAO. And ICAO does have these practices. However, as they're implemented in each state, they can pick and choose what they want instead of...

COOPER: So in the United States, you would not have or at least according you, if they flying rules, you would not have a pilot alone in the cockpit if the other co-pilot got out to go to the bathroom, flight attendant will go.

QUEST: No, absolutely. That's a given in United States. But I can tell you because I've flown it enough times in Europe a variety of airlines where I have been sitting there and you see the captain coming out to go to the toilet or to get a coffee or whatever, and you do not see a flight attendant going in. And the reason I mention it is because I remember sitting there a few times thinking, "I hope the pilot doesn't have heart attack." Since he's the only out in the cockpit.

COOPER: You know, because there are viewers who are just joining us who haven't been following us over the last hour, let's just review the kind of the option of what -- I mean, explain kind of the options as you see them, Richard.

QUEST: The options are, now with tonight's development. With tonight's development you really come down to what caused, firstly, the pilot to leave the cockpit and secondly and I'm not to be allowed back in again when he starts banging on the door. And related to that, the issue of what start the descent. Because it's -- you got the -- you got one...

COOPER: And also does the descent begin before the pilot leaves the cockpit?

[21:05:00] QUEST: That's very unlikely. Very unlikely, because the pilot leaves.

SOUCIE: He's in a descent, he certainly would have taken that time...

QUEST: Yeah.

SOUCIE: ... to leave the cockpit.

QUEST: They'll be told by why they were going to start to descent.

SOUCIE: We're saying if they're acting rationally in the first place...

QUEST: Yes, but it's -- you're about to go to the bathroom and you certainly see the other (inaudible), just started a 3,000 foot descent, you might comment -- you'd know about it. So what...

COOPER: So the two options really are a nefarious explanation, the person who was at the controls, we don't know if it was the pilot or the co-pilot.

QUEST: Just turns the descent, either on the alter pilot to command the descent of 3,000 feet a minute or not just the side stick forward so saturate a descent of 3,000 feet...

COOPER: And just stops answering radio calls and as the pilot is or co-pilot is banging on the door to be let back in, not only doesn't allow him in...

SOUCIE: Locks it.

COOPER: ... doesn't respond to him at all.

QUEST: (inaudible). On the other hand and I defer to the good doctor here, you have a medical emergency, a major (inaudible) medical emergency while the other person is out...

GUPTA: And just to be clear, what you're saying if someone had a medical emergency, could the plane have done what it did if someone was incapacitate, would they be flying the plain?

SOUCIE: Well I question that a little bit, because what happens was it got -- it could be that in this aircraft, if you push it forward just a little bit on this control stick and let it go, it will go back to the neutral position. But the aircraft will continue in the commanded mode.

GUPTA: I see, I see.

SOUCIE: So it could have been bumped forward and the aircraft started that motion, it was released somehow falling off of it and continued there. However, to be able to do that, directly forward without nudging a left of right at all is pretty unlikely.

COOPER: If somebody is going to forward onto the control...


COOPER: That would not have occurred.

QUEST: You put your hand on the center it's literally just there, to the -- you've got an arm rest that supports the arms.

COOPER: So it was not some thing that you have to maintain in the forward position. You can just put them in the forward position and let it go and then it will continue in that direction.

QUEST: It's total flight by the way, you push it forward and you release it and it starts the actual...

COOPER: Now, the other thing we don't know is did somebody else get into the cockpit when one of the pilots left, the Times is not giving any details or the person that they're basing this does not have any details about whether there was any other sound from somebody else, but there's no indication that somebody else gained access to the cockpit while one of the pilots was out.

QUEST: Peter Goelz was making a very good point earlier when he said when the BEA made its statement...


QUEST: BEA is the French Investigating Authority.

COOPER: Right.

QUEST: The French equivalent of the NTSB that will be responsive of, they were very careful in what they said. He didn't take any question about the cockpit voice recorder, all he said is there was channel, there was a voice that it heard (ph), there was voices on it, therefore they could confirm as it went all the way up to the accident. But he didn't go any further in that respect.

COOPER: Why not? Why wouldn't he? I mean if the idea is to be transpiring and give information, why at this stage would they not say something?

SOUCIE: Because if it is criminal, if this was a criminal act then it is a criminal investigation, thereby, you can not release any information about that in your investigations. So as an accident investigator in charge, when we find out it's criminal, either the FBI, the CIA, somebody takes that over at that point and then we take the second seat as FAA investigator.

COOPER: The other thing, the flight data recorder itself has not been found, voice recorder has been found, data recorder has not been found. That will certainly fill in a lot of the missing pieces about exactly how the descent was actually entered, how it begin, whether it was a number of a checklist of things that has to be done, whether it's just a stick that was hit.

QUEST: You'll hear on the FDR, you fill find out what movements were made. You might even find -- I don't know what the parameters, you might even find if the door was locked, it might be a parameter on the FDR. And you'll find on an entire digital picture of what was happening in the cockpit.

COOPER: I want to go to Peter Goelz and Tom Foreman who were standing by in Washington. Tom?

TOM FOREMAN: CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. Hi Peter, you've been talking about this earlier, this is the switch in question, explain what we're looking at right here.

PETER GOELZ, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT AT O'NEILL AND ASSOCIATES: Well this is the cockpit door switch that we've been discussing. And here is where the toggle switch that has three positions. On the lock, normal and lock. In the normal position, you can enter the cockpit door. In the lick position, you can not get through it.

And it has to be flipped up to unlock first and then drop back down to normal.

FOREMAN: And I assume that this is an indicator light for some sort over here.

GOELZ: It is. Yes, that's correct.

FOREMMAN: (inaudible) it is lock.

GOELZ: One that is locked.

FOREMAN: Now, in these, we talked about all that were recorded in the fight data record, we talked about these recorders in here. Would the position of that switch be recorded would change us to that switch be recorded?

GOELZ: That is an interesting question. On the later aircraft, I am sure that the answer is yes. This is an early aircraft that's obviously been retrofitted meet the new standards after 9/11.

[21:10:06] And after 9/11 there were extensive research done and new protocols developed on how to protect the cockpit, how pilots were to respond to a potential hijacking. So I can not say with assurance that in older aircraft like this that these procedures, that these positions would be reflected in the data recorder, I'm not sure. FOREMAN: And do you have any idea what the standard procedure would be on this if one pilot left that cockpit?

GOELZ: Well, I don't know. And I, you know, and I think David could probably speak more authoritatively on that. David?

COPPER: David, what do you make of that?

SOUCIE: Well first of all, I want to point out all the airbus 320 captains out there are saying, "Well that's not an airbus 320." What the picture is, is someone that is working on that aircraft right now, they're installing some equipment, so that's been moved to accommodative printer, so that is not the standard configuration, I want to put that out, first of all, you know, it's that big hole that's right there on the right hand side, it's a little maintenance.

But we're finding out right now, from a ICAO source of previous administrator of the ICAO, whether or not that is an ICAO practice or not and how they handle the switch. Well I don't know either if Peter...

COOPER: What is so important about that for you?

SOUCIE: Well because it's suppose to be kept in the normal position, let's say that the pilot -- one of the pilot exited the cockpit, the door is closed and in the normal position.

COOPER: Locked automatically.

SOUCIE: Well it locks automatically. But if it's in the normal position, then the pilot would be able to enter the aircraft back into the cockpit itself.

COOPER: Using a code.

SOUCIE: Using a code and another method. But if it's in a lock position, intentionally put into that lock position, he would not be able to exit and there by he'd have to knock on the door and try -- it would be consistent with that. But that still raises the question, "Was it intentionally put in lock or is it just procedurally put in lock?"

COOPER: And we don't know that answer to that.

SOUCIE: It still doesn't answer the question as to whether it was intent on the remaining pilot or not.

QUEST: And it certainly doest did deal with the issue of why wasn't there a second person in the cockpit, even if the procedure normally is to leave it in normal, because that just (inaudible) us.


QUEST: If you leave it in normal and there's only one person in, then somebody else can access. COOPER: We have to take a quick break. We're going to continue this conversation. There are lot more details we need to work through. Also I have move breaking news Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, charged with desertion, possibly facing life in military prison. Sharing details for the first time, we're hearing on his own words about his own captivity. I'm going to talk to his attorney in this hour.


[21:15:49] COOPER: (inaudible) cockpit door on Germanwings Flight 9526, reporting now in the New York Times -- excuse me 25, that one of the two pilots was locked out. CNN has not independently confirmed the report. Lufthansa has not commented on it after the panel, but I want to start with it with Tome Foreman and Peter Goelz, formally with the NTSB. Tom.

FOREMAN: You know -- hey, Peter, let me ask you about this. Is this the single keyway that you can lock a cockpit door?

GOELZ: Well that's the way the pilots inside can secure the door...

FOREMAN: He ignore the manual locker another way to block the...

GOELZ: No, that was discussed. After 9/11, there were series of working groups about -- first of all, changing procedures on how pilots respond to a potential hijacking. And secondly, how do you armor and secure the cockpit from many intrusions?

FOREMAN: And you said, that even when they started going with this system, there was discussion about should there be an air marshal who has some secret code or a flight attendant, somebody else who could get it?

GOELZ: That's right. They talked extensively about maybe we should give a random member of the flight crew, the cabin crew, you know, an ability to enter the cockpit. But then they decided that that was just from the security standpoint, you couldn't guarantee that outsiders wouldn't learn that.

And they settle down on this procedure in which you have, you know, the door is armed and you're not going to get through it. You have procedures that the pilot state to fly the airplane in a different way if there's a hijacking attempting. And you have the lock, which you can not penetrate.

FOREMAN: And let me ask this, if that's the case, when we look at the wreckage that we have out here of the plane, if they find portions of the door there, they find portions of locking mechanism, will they be able to tell from that more information about the force used to try to get through the door, anything like that?

GOELZ: Well with this kind of destruction, Tom, I couldn't speculate. But they could find -- you could find a portion of the door with the volt activated. And if it was in the activated position, they would say, "Well that door was locked." And we'd confirm what has been speculated now in the New York Times. FOREMAN: And it's very much your belief that even if people in a concerted effort try to smash through the door, they just really couldn't get it done.

GOELZ: Not in 10 minutes, no. I mean these doors, they've done a very good job in making impenetrable.

FOREMAN: Anderson.

COOPER: Tom, thanks very much. Peter, thank you. We're back with David Soucie, Richard Quest and our Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Obviously the finding of the data recorder is going to be critical, lot of questions will be answered.

Do you -- I mean once they find it, how quickly that information would be made public?

SOUCIE: You're talking about the flight data recording?


SOUCIE: The flight data recorder is typically more available than the cockpit voice recorder.

COOPER: That's right.

SOUCIE: Because there's more clues than a more interpersonal. But flight data recorder does come out and gives us the information as far as the air flow, the air speed and altitude...

COOPER: And also what movements the pilot actually made with the equipment.

QUEST: Knowing that the BEA and how they...

COOPER: The French agency that's in charge of it.

QUEST: The French agency, the French NTSB and how they did the reporting for Air France 447, what we'll expect would be a series of press conferences, where they might release this, but also an interim report. In 447, they did a full throttle interim report which was going into a lot of these details.

COOPER: Sanjay, again, looking at the medical angle of the idea that perhaps there was a medical emergency, we'd look at the more nefarious possibility of suicide by the pilot, a mass murder by the pilot in brining the plane down, intentionally locking the door, not allowing the other pilot back in. But if there was some sort of medical emergency, and before you mentioned it, it would either be brain or it would be heart, in terms of immediate medical emergency that might incapacitate somebody, would there be much warning of something like that, f one is to -- if one is going to be having a heart attack in, you know, five minutes, ten minutes, you know, are you sweating (inaudible), or are there warning sign?

GUTPA: I think that would be the more likely scenario. [21:20:00] Is it possible that someone could go from feeling absolutely fine, having a normal conversation? Absolutely no signs of distress to suddenly being incapacitated, unable to speak and not arousable? It's is possible.

There's not many details here obviously, maybe more details would be coming, maybe some of the details are not knowable ever, but I'd like to know, first of all, was there some past medical history, just as a starting clue? Were there any signs of distress? Did someone -- do their breathing change? Did they -- do their voice, did they have any kind of sound of pain, for example if someone has a ruptured aneurysm in their brain?

It can feel like someone has literally hit you in the back of the head with a two by four, it hurts and people often times react to that. Same sore of things, it can happen with chest pain, doesn't have to. But, you know, in this obviously we're speculating, but if you had to play the odds, you would think that there would be some sort of sign if there were a sensitive enough for quarter there, my understanding is they have a microphone right in the mouth.

SOUCIE: It is.

COOPER: That's goes to my question, it would be said the recorder is sensitive enough to pick up, labor breathing...

SOUCIE: Yeah, we used it after an accident to find out if someone is breathing or not, you can tell if they're just breathing, so any of this, the sounds that you're talking about certainly would be part of that, you would think they would have been mentioned by the source that said, "Hey, we knew he was knocking on the door, we knew this was going on."

So if you heard that as well, you'd think he would mention...

COOPER: The other question I had is just in terms of medical checkups for pilots, how rigorous are they? How routine are they?

SOUCIE: Well in a commercial flight and I have to check to see if this -- if Lufthansa has a same (inaudible) the U.S., you're doing continual routine check up, at least annually and by annually if you're commercial...

COOPER: Which doesn't really mean, (inaudible) Sanjay, if you have somebody running on the stress test, you know, running in a treadmill six months ago, doesn't mean they can't drop dead of a heart attack?

GUPTA: Absolutely. You can develop medical problems. And look, people can have heart attacks out of the blue. I mean, they could have had a normal exam, even then the previous few weeks and that could happen. Again, not as likely but certainly could happen.

QUEST: And pilots dropping dead in the cockpit is not a no, there has been a few cases here in the United States in the last couple of years where a pilot has had a heart attack. Did you have regular -- by annual checkups? It's very expensive, there's many things for example, kidney stones, you know, you can't fly with those because of the pain involved, it's all rough of things.

COOPER: But to David Soucie's point, which he made in the last hour, we are -- if you believe a medical emergency occurred, there are number of situations which lined up...


COOPER: ... to create this to happen, that the pilot would leave the cockpit at exactly the time and that the door would be put in this lock position, automatically go to this lock position and that this descent that the pilot would then at that moment when they're all along, happen to have a medical emergency that so incapacitated them and that they hit this...

SOUCIE: Right.

COOPER: ... steep that perfectly so that the plane went down...

QUEST: Right.

COOPER: ... without any deviations.

QUEST: I guess I'm...

SOUCIE: As an investigator that doesn't feel good.


QUEST: No, but I guess maybe I got, you know, I'm little bit reluctant to go to the gravity...

COOPER: Right.

QUEST: ... of the thought of the nefarious option, because of what it says about humanity and what it says about what somebody is prepared to do.

COOPER: I also think it's important caveat to point out, this is based on New York Times reporting, as far as we know a single source, an investigator who apparently has access to the voice data recorder has heard and described to the New York Times what's on it. We have not been able to independently confirm this, and I just thing that's a very important point of, you know, again, this is a single source.

The reason we're reporting on it is because it does show dramatically change the calculus, change the way of thinking about what happen on this plane, no matter the reason for the silence of the person at the control of the plane.

We have to take a short break. We are going to of course continue to follow this throughout this hour, any other late development throughout the night. But just to have a very human dimension to all of this and it's so important as Richard said, to focus on this, 150 lives lost. Many of them young lives, kids who are returning from an exchange program from a small town in Germany, a small town struggling now to absorb what is lost, 16 high school students, two young teachers, returning from that trip to Spain.

Plus the opera singer, the young mom who also perish on the crash, her partner and baby were traveling with her. I talked to her close and fellow opera singer.


COOPER: Tonight, breaking news, the New York Times is reporting that one of the pilots of Germanwings Flight 9525 was locked out of the cockpit when the plane crash. Now the paper cites a senior military official, an evidence from the airbus A320's voice recorder. CNN has not independently confirmed this report.

However, Lufthansa has just weighted in, our friend Fred Pleitgen joins us now with that. So what are you hearing Fred? Fred, can you hear me?

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Anderson. I just get off the phone with the spokes person (inaudible) Lufthansa, based in Frankford at the headquarters of Lufthansa. He's name is Boris Ogursky. And he's said, we have -- then this is a quote from him. He said, "We have no information from the bodies investigating the incident." The BEA and the BFU, of course that's the French version of the NTSB and the German version of the NTSB.

"That would collaborate the report in the New York Times. We will not participate in any speculation but we will follow up on the matter. So these were -- that was the only statement that he was willing to give at this point in time. That is of course a by means a denial coming from Lufthansa. They do, however, say that from the two bodies that they're working very closely with, which is of course in particular the French investigating body, but also the one from the German, they sent specialist to the crash site as well.

They say from those two bodies, they've have gotten no information telling them that one of the pilots might have been locked out of the cockpit. However, they do say that they're going to look into this matter and then get back to us, once they have more. So certainly they are looking into this as well, they're watching very, very closely what's being said, of course, evaluating that report in the New York Times as well.

And it certainly does raise a lot of questions, especially as I'm standing here in the place, Haltern, Germany where so many people were killed in that incident. Anderson.

COOPER: We also learn that tomorrow the airline is bringing people to the scene or as close as possible to it. I mean is that likely that families will take up Lufthansa's offer and actually fly to -- close to the crash site?

PLEITGEN: You know what? I've spoken to a lot of people here in town, this is a very close knit community, there's many, many people here who know those who are affected by especially the parents of the 16 school children who died from this town alone. And the sense that we're getting is that a lot of them will actually take up that offer. [21:30:02] And there's two reasons for that. Of course, on the one hand, people want information, they want to know what happen to their children, what happen to their love ones. And they want to be sure that the investigation that's being run there on the ground is one that's going to lead to something, they want to be sure that everything is being done to get information.

But I also think there's a second element to it. I think a lot of them are looking for at least some form of closure. I've spoken to so many people today, who said that they simply can't believe this is true, they still feel like these people are going to walk back into their lives at some point.

And for many of them, it will be something where they could get a little bit of closure, obviously being at that place, where something so horrible happens to their loved once, will be a very painful experience, but also certainly that in the long run, might need help. And that's actually something I talked to a psychologist here, they have a lot of emergency psychologist here, he said that as well. It is very, very important for a lot of people to visit the place where these horrible incidents happen.

COOPER: Do we know much more about the pilots fly -- in the aircraft?

PLEITGEN: What's interesting because that was also the second thing that I talked to the Lufthansa's spokes person about as well and also somebody at Lufthansa commented on as well, there really isn't very much. They haven't put out a name, they only thing that they commented on was the actual captain of the flight.

And they said this is someone who has a lot of experience, who has 10 year experience flying this model, the A320 and who has about 6,000 hours of flight experience. So certainly someone who knows how to deal with this aircraft, who has flown many, many times on this aircraft.

And of course we also have to keep in mind that the pilots of the A320 as almost any aircraft within the Lufthansa (inaudible), they are fairly closely community themselves, they all know each other, that's one of the reasons ,why some of the pilots apparently of Germanwings didn't want to fly after this incident happens, seemly because they were traumatized that they didn't feel fit to be steering an aircraft.

But there really is still very little information available about who is piloting the aircraft, not just the captain, but the co-pilot as well. We know almost nothing about the co pilot except for a statement again, given by the CEO of Germanwings, this time saying that both of these pilots were Lufthansa pilots. So they were Lufthansa aviators.

And I think he made that statement full well knowing that many people here in Germany are asking, you know, did this airline maybe crash because it was a budget airline.

COOPER: Right.

PLEITGEN: But he wanted to tell people that these are full pledged Lufthansa pilots and these people knew what they were doing.

COOPER: All right, Fred Pleitgen, I appreciate that. Thank you. As we've been reporting, the Opera World lost two of their own in the crash of this aircraft. Oleg Bryjak and Maria Radner were just completed a run at the classic German Opera (inaudible) in Barcelona. Last night I spoke to a friend of Mr. Bryjak. Tonight we're learning more about Ms. Radner, talented alto who's career was flourishing.

Radner's partner and baby were traveling with her in the state. But New York's metropolitan opera called her a gifted artist who touched the lives of many. Heidi Melton performed with her at the (inaudible), became close friends and she joins me tonight.

Heidi, I'm so sorry for your lost. What can you tell us about Maria? What was she like?

HEIDI MELTON, FRIEND MARIA RADNER WAS ON FLIGHT 9525: She was truly one of the most beautiful, joyful, incredible souls that I've ever had the honor of knowing. She was incredible, she had this beautiful voice that everybody knows about, but then she had this incredible personality and she was so loving and kind and had an amazing sense of humor. And I'm very lucky.

COOPER: I understand she made her day view at the metropolitan opera back in 2012, that's where you met her?

MELTON: Yes. That is where we met. We met the first day of rehearsal there.

COOPER: And I knew there are some pictures of you spending time in New York of Maria in Time Square. Did she like New York? Did she like the U.S.?

MELTON: Yeah. She loves New York, she loves the U.S., she loved dinner breakfast, were one of her favorite thing. She loved everything about New York, she love Broadway, she loved Lincoln Center. She was completely and utterly taken away with it.

COOPER: What is she like as a performer? Because, I mean, I'm fascinated the power you have to have as an opera singer, you know, to kind of get your voice pass the -- through the orchestra, you know, there's not microphones, to have yourself heard in these enormous (inaudible)?

MELTON: Yeah, that's all very true. She was -- I mean, we can always talk about the beautiful of her voice, because it was stunningly beautiful. And I think that that pretty universally acknowledge. But what made her incredibly special, at least for me as a performer was that she always had something to say and she always said every single word meant something to her.

[21:35:09] Every single note meant something. She was a consummate, rather, musician and artist. And that voice will be very, very missed.

COOPER: When was the last time you say her? MELTON: Before the New Year. She and her partner and her baby came to visit me when I was working. They were driving through so we met each other.

COOPER: Is there anything else you want people to know about her?

MELTON: I would love everybody to know just how beautiful of a person she was, how much she loved musing, how grateful she was to be able to perform for a living. How proud she was of her son and how much she loved him and her partner and her family and her friends.

She was really -- she was just full of love and light and every good thing in the world.

COOPER: Heidi, thank you so much for taking time to talk with us.

MELTON: Thank you.

COOPER: Full of love and light. Just ahead on the same day, Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is charged with desertion. We're hearing about his five years in captivity in his own words. I'll speak with someone who served with him, next.


COOPER: Well for the first time we're getting a description of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl's five years in captivity in his own words. His lawyer released a document today in which Bergdahl describes being chained to a bed for three months (inaudible), suffering physical abuse and illness and trying unsuccessfully multiple times trying to escape. That description was released on the same day that Bergdahl was charged with desertion, for leaving his post in Afghanistan in 2009, before he was captured and held by the Taliban and its associates.

[21:40:03] And he's part of today's announcement of the charges.


COLONEL DANIEL KING U.S. ARMY: Sergeant Bergdahl is charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice one count of Article 85, desertion with intent to shirk important or hazardous duty, and one count of Article 99 misbehavior before the enemy by endangering the safety of a command, unit, or place.


COOPER: As we've been reporting today Sergeant Bergdahl was charge with desertion from living us both Afghanistan, before he was captured and held for five years. He's attorney release the letter today included Bergdahl's own graphic description of the abused that he suffered. I spoke with him a short time ago.


COOPER: Mr. Fidell, what do you make first all these charges now against your make first all these charges now against you client?

EUGENE FIDELL, ATTORNEY FOR SGT. BOWE BERGDAHL: Well, you know, the people have been talking about desertion from before he was liberated from captivities, so that's not a surprise of the misbehavior before the enemy was a surprise, you know, I think this is an example of military prosecutors getting cleaver about how many ways they can charge the same conduct...

COOPER: What is misbehavior before the...

FIDELL: ... as military.

COOPER: ... enemy because that not something I had heard before and the potential sentence for I understand is life?

FIDELL: Yeah, it's a very serious offense. But it's a defense that frankly I don't think I can remember any prosecution for. I've only been doing since 1969 so what do I know. But I don't often remember any cases where that have been draw (ph) out.

COOPER: Do you know...

FIDELL: This covers a multitude of sentence like throwing away your rifle and things like that.

COOPER: Have you spoken to Sergeant Bergdahl since the charges were release. I'm wondering if he -- what he's reaction to them was?

FIDELL: Well, in fact the way I found out that he was being charge was he called me because we had no prior notice that this was going to happen. After I spoke with him and he's philosophical about this. I mean, you know, he had long time to ponder the process since he's return from Afghanistan. It's, you know, he talks it once step at a time he's a very impressive guy.

COOPER: You've release a statement from Sergeant Bergdahl and it's really the first time that we've heard directly from him in writing about he's captivity, what he went through, beatings, the number of escape, he said he try to escape at least 12 times, recaptures, serious illnesses, untreated wounds. I mean he's captivity sounds truly horrific. Does he believe and as part of the reason for releasing that that it should preclude him from a court marshal?

FIDELL: Well, I'm not going to speak, you know, I'm not going to tell you what he personally believes because that would be invading the attorney client privilege. But I'll tell you what I think. Obviously, those kinds of factors, they're on what is the proper disposition of this matter and I think that you would have to have a heart of stone not to take these really dreadful circumstances into account.

And I expected and anticipate that those who make the ultimate decision here whether it should go to trial, on what grounds, how it should be resolve, or whether it should not go to trial and be handle some other way. They're going to take into account. And if they didn't I would be very puzzled. COOPER: Because in your writing and your note to them, you note that -- I believe in one military document they basically just kind of describe his captivity in one line sort of saying he was held from this day to day. Do you believe that they so far have taken that into consideration the circumstances under which the detail?

FIDELL: What I can do, Anderson, to say I was surprised that such short shrift was given to the nearly five years of captivity that Sergeant Bergdahl was fortunate enough to be rescued from. And frankly I thought it was very important that the American public start to have some sense of what he actually went through, because so far we've been sort of barraged with hostility and vilification from the verity of directions and, you know, it's very easy to throw stones. But it's a little more difficult if you've got facts out there that allow you to at least begin to get a sense of what this human being, our fellow citizen and member of the U.S. Army went through for nearly five years.

COOPER: You talk about the vitriol (ph) that's been kind of dispute against him. You're concern about his safety not just for later on in live but even now and you note that on base or -- excuse me, off base he's actually has to be accompanied by two soldiers at all times off base. And you believe that's for his owned safety so other people don't do something to him. Is that correct?

[21:45:04] FIDELL: That's what I'm informed. And, you know, I've seen -- I do monitor the web and I read some of the really awful things that people feel comfortable saying typically when they're not using their real names. I do want to say this, if you don't mind, I'm kind of first amendment guy, I really, really believe in free speech. I think it's one of the jewels and the crown of our, you know, governmental system, our social system. So, you know, if people want to be that way. God bless them.

On the other hand I think that once people have a better sense of Bowe Bergdahl, the human being, what he went through, what his motivations were, I think that, you know, many of those people may find themselves ruing some of the dreadful things they have been saying.

COOPER: Well, Mr. Fidell, listen, I appreciate your time and I know it's been busy day for you. Thank you.

FIDELL: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: The CNN Global Affair Analyst David Rohde has a few unique prospective on this story, not only he was held for seven after being kidnap by the Taliban. He's also one of the several people the Bergdahl family has consulted with while Bowe was in the captivity about how passively bring him home. David has stayed in contact with the family since he came home. He joins me now along with Thomas Kenniff Major in the New York Army National Guard Jag Corp, where his chief of trial defense services.

Major, let me start with you. Just in terms of what happens next legally, this doesn't even have to necessarily get to a court marshal. MAJOR THOMAS KENNIFF, NEW YORK ARMY NATIONAL GUARD JAG CORP: No, what is has happen to this point is the command in general who sets this, what we call a militaries the convening authority has preferred this charges to an Article 32 investigating officer. The Article 32 officer is going to conduct what would be kin to a preliminary hearing and a civilian criminal prosecution.

During the course that hearing Sergeant Bergdahl, his attorney, they will be present, they'll have the right to question witnesses, the right to present evidence on Sergeant Bergdahl's behalf, if he so choose.

And at the inclusion of the hearing, the investigating officer is going to make recommendations, again, to the Commanding General who will make the ultimate decision as to whether he wants to push forward with the court marshal. The Commanding General in case like this has tremendous amount of discretion. He seats sort of like Civilian District Attorney and deciding whether he want to use prosecutorial discretion to avoid sending this all the way to trial and whether he wants something else.

COOPER: So they could very easily say, well look he has -- he did deserve -- we believe he did desert but he, you know, he suffered tremendously in five years captivity. We're going to, you know, give him a discharge, we're going to dock his pay, we're going to reduce in rank or something. I mean they had wide discretion.

KENNIFF: They have wide discretion. But on somewhat concern that if that was going to be done, one would think that it probably would have been done already as suppose to sending this forward to the Article 32 hearing, which usually telegraphs that the case maybe heading towards at least the courts marshal process, of course there's always the possibility of plea bargaining like there would be by civilian criminal justice system.

COPPER: David, I know you've read the obviously the statement that Bowe Bergdahl wrote. I mean I read it as well. It's horrific to read what he went through. He was held for five years, you know, you were held under different circumstances by the Taliban for seven months. I'm wondering what your reaction when you read what he went through was.

DAVID ROHDE, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Harrowing, horrific the same where action. You had it. It's credible to me, he talks about trying to, you know, escape repeatedly, roughly a dozen times. He actually got away twice. In one case he was captured very quickly within 10-15 minutes. And a second case and we have heard about this from the Taliban themselves, he was free for nine days, he was wondering around, didn't know where he was and he said he was so weak, he eventually sort of collapse and was recaptured, but it's tragic that he was out for nine day yet, you know, could not find his way to safety.

COOPER: And I know David, you communicated, as I said, with the family. Did they expect these charges? ROHDE: They not -- they don't want to comment at this point, they're worried about this, the military judiciary process, but they had warning at all about what was going to happen. There's one interesting nugget in the document that the lawyer came out. He doesn't answer the big question which is, why did Bowe leave his base, you know, and I think that's an critical statement he...

COOPER: And obviously asked him that as well and he refused to answer in the interview.

ROHDE: And, you know, that's the real thing, you know, his fellow soldier want to know, the public wants to know why did he do this and he should answer that question, he's got to be held accountable for that. There is a reference, thought, that he was allowed into the army with waiver. Now, that hasn't come out publicly as far I know before. And friends of Bowe Bergdahl has said that when he was in the coast guard, before he join the army he was discharge from the coast guard for psychological reasons.

So there's an intuitional question for the army here. Why did they allow this young man in the army, why did he get a waiver and did he have psychological issue that made him unfit for the coast guard.

[21:50:03] COOPER: David Rohde, appreciate it. Major Thomas Kenniff, thank you so much. I appreciate that.

Up next, more on our breaking news, a new report at New York Times that one of the pilots of Germanwings Flight 9525 was locked out of the cockpit before it went down.


COOPER: Tomorrow, some of the families who lost loved ones on board Germanwings Flight 9525 will be flown from Dusseldorf to Barcelona and then taken to the French Alps where the airbus went down.

They will arrive with a chilling no possibility about what happened on the table that one of the pilots have been locked out of the flight deck either deliberately or because the pilot in the cockpit was somehow incapacitated? That scenario.

Late out tonight, in the New York Times, this is not our reporting, And Lufthansa has yet to address this substance of it directly. However, David Soucie and Richard Quest have been working their resources, have been learning more about the locking mechanism on the airbus.

Richard, where do you stand now and what do you think happened?

QUEST: OK. It's important to understand there is a mechanism. I'm not going to the details but there is a mechanism by which, if you go back to that picture of the door, if it's in normal rule, like (inaudible), this is in normal, there is a way outside that you can initiate an entry through procedure. Thereby, if the person inside is dead, you can just get in because they're not going to do anything. If they want to stop you, they would switch the lock. So there is a way in which the person outside the cockpit can initiate the procedure.

COOPER: Unless the door have been put into the lock position initially.

QUEST: Exactly. Exactly so that leads us more toward in the various thing because it was in normal position then yes whoever was outside (inaudible).

COOPER: So you're saying there is no necessarily a reason why -- if one of the pilots leaves, that the co-pilot or the pilot who's at the controls would have automatically put in the lock position.

QUEST: Right. We don't know...

COOPER: They would have just kept it in the normal.

SOUCIE: It should have always been in the normal position.

QUEST: We don't know the procedures that Germanwings follows in terms of two people in terms of two people in the cockpit, whether it's a normal or lock which there are no particular exactly what equipment this particular 320, 24 years old has on it. But as a principle, as a general principle, Anderson...

COOPER: Right.

QUEST: ... yes, there is a mechanism of an override.

COOPER: And David Soucie, in terms of where the investigation now goes obviously the data recorder...

SOUCIE: Right.

COOPER: ... is crucial.

[21:55:04] SOUCIE: It is crucial but at this point I wouldn't exact anymore information to come out.

COOPER: Really.

SOUCIE: Because at this point they are thinking that it's nefarious, that's definite possibility.

COOPER: Anymore information to come out publicly you're saying.

SOUCIE: Publicly, yes. They're going to shut those doors. It's going to be shutdown right now until they can determine whether there's criminal activity or not.

COOPER: Richard?

QUEST: I'm just reading, you know, the resources e-mailing me. One person e-mailing me saying I've been industry person for 45 years and as a flight attendant, I'm certain to say aircraft has an emergency access by the keypad. Now, that emergency access would not be valid if it has been in lock and that lock mechanism is designed to some, you know, let say you decide to force to get the emergency access, the captain there is inside, he just locks the door.

COOPER: Well still, obviously, a lot of questions. Again, this is New York Times reporting but again it changes the -- our understanding of what happened in the final minutes of that aircraft and just have chilling image painted by the source according to the New York Times that one of the pilots started quietly knocking on the door, trying to get back into the cockpit, no answer, no response. Plane is descending, the pilot begins to bang louder, finally tries to force their way in to the cockpit. He is unable to do that. The plane goes down.

Richard Quest, David Soucie, thank you very much.

Up next, we have more breaking news. Possible tornado ripping through mobile home community in Oklahoma. We'll have the latest from the scene.


COOPER: There's a lot more happening tonight. Randi Kaye is here with the 360 Bullet. Randi.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, breaking news at of Tulsa County Oklahoma, at least one person is dead and several others injured after an unconfirmed tornado tore through the area. Dozens of mobile homes are damaged or destroyed. A sheriff's deputy telling us conditions are deplorable at best.

Overseas for the first time the U.S. is targeting ISIS fighters with the airstrikes to decreed Iraq. That's where a sense of fighting has underway now for months, ISIS to control of the city last June.

Yemen's president has reported fled the country as rebel forces capture parts of the port city of Aden. That's where the President had been hold-up since fleeing the capital last month. Rebel has also ceased an airbase that U.S. Special Forces evacuated just days ago.

An incredible video from Brazil where an evacuated bus got swallowed up by sinkhole. Take a look at this here, carried away in raging floodwaters. This video was shot by someone, Anderson, who escaped that bus just in time.

[22:00:04] COOPER: That's incredible, unbelievable. Randi, thanks every much.

That does it for us. CNN tonight, starts now.