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Deadly Bus Crash; Deadly Tornadoes Rake Midwest and Southeast

Aired March 02, 2007 - 14:01   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon, live at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.

The unthinkable. A bus full of college baseball players crashes from an overpass to the highway below. We'll talk with the players who risked their own lives to save others.

LEMON: And the tornadoes that raked the South. Could more people have been saved?

We're live in the hardest-hit towns of Enterprise, Alabama, and Americus, Georgia.

All the breaking details right here, live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

It is the top of the hour. And we start with a shocking scene in Atlanta, Georgia.

A bus carrying a college baseball team from Ohio plunges off an overpass early this morning, crashing into the interstate below. At least six people are dead, more than two dozen others are injured. The bus was carrying 35 people, most baseball players from Bluffton University on their way to a tournament in Sarasota, Florida.

And we heard from one of the players just a short while ago.


A.J. RAMTHUN, BLUFFTON BASEBALL PLAYER: I just wish there's something I could do to the families who lost their loved ones. This is something that's not going to leave the guys who were on that bus this morning. This is going to be with us forever.

And we've been living together, practicing together, and just -- we've been a family for the past five months. And it's just, something like this morning really makes you think twice about life.


LEMON: It is just heartbreaking. And Ramthun's older brother was trapped under the bus. He did survive, with injuries to his hips. And we'll hear more from Ramthun just a little bit later on this hour.

WHITFIELD: And many of those hurt in today's crash are at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. Our Amanda Rosseter is there and joins us live with the very latest -- Amanda.

AMANDA ROSSETER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fredricka, Grady is one of the lead trauma centers in the southeast. They brought most of the 29 injured here. Of course, six dead as mentioned before. That included the driver and his wife.

That driver had just switched out about an hour before this happened. The original driver had switched places with the driver that was on the bus at the time of the crash, along with his wife. They were both killed, along with four other university students.

As you mentioned earlier, this was the baseball team from Bluffton University in Ohio, just outside of Toledo. A very tight-knit group. And they were headed south for a spring tournament.

The survivors were -- witnesses say the survivors climbed out of the top of the bus, which landed on 75 south, that main -- that main thoroughfare, on its side, and the survivors climbed out of the emergency hatch in the top. There were walking wounded, and the injured were brought here to Grady Hospital.

Right now we understand AirTran is helping many of those families from Ohio with a chartered flight that is going to land here this afternoon. And it's really become a community effort.

Here's what one of the fathers had to tell us.


ED KAY, SON INJURED IN BUS CRASH: The response here has been great. Like I said, I mean, there were tons of doctors on the floor this morning. Lots of people helping out. Social services was by, the chaplains were by. I thought it's been a great response.


ROSSETER: Again, that was one of the fathers of one of the baseball players. Actually, a local baseball player who was here -- who lives here in Alpharetta and went to Bluffton University, the Kay family.

Again, 35 on board, 29 injured, six dead at this point confirmed. And we understand three are still in critical condition here at Grady Memorial Hospital.

We'll keep you updated on the situation.

I'm Amanda Rosseter.

Back to you in the studio.

WHITFIELD: And so, Amanda, since the students were going to school in Ohio, it really was just by chance that Mr. Kay happened to be from the Georgia area. But have you seen other parents who have already make their way to Grady to see their wounded children? ROSSETER: You know, Fredricka, we have not seen any of the family members here as of yet, but we understand that the Fulton County system, which is the county seat here in Atlanta, has set up a staging unit, if you will, a reunification staging area over at the Marriott Marquis, which is about a mile from here.

We understand that AirTran is going to bring the families in. They're going to arrive at about 7:00 this evening, and they're going to be brought by police escort over here to Grady, and then the Marriott Marquis is going to help gather them all together and help give them counseling, as well as put them up -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Amanda Rosseter, thanks so much.

Well, the community of Bluffton, meanwhile, is stunned, to say the very least. They held a prayer vigil this morning at the small Mennonite-affiliated university. Classes were canceled and the school's athletic director, along with other officials, are on their way now to Atlanta. The school's president is calling it a profound and tragic day at the university.


JAMES HARDER, PRESIDENT, BLUFFTON UNIVERSITY: Again, Bluffton University is profoundly grateful for the outpouring of support from the community. We only wish to reflect on our sadness for the tragedies that has so deeply impacted the lives of so many people -- friends, relatives, of course the people involved directly in the accident. And we can only begin to imagine how over time this will play out, and that we will hang together and support each other and try to work through this very, very difficult situation.


WHITFIELD: Bluffton president Harder is calling off other sports trips planned during next week's spring break.

And the Red Cross in Atlanta has also set up a phone line for the crash victims' families. It is 404-870-4440. The Red Cross also has set up a family assistance center for people coming into Atlanta to visit the injured.

LEMON: A savage line of storms now moving out to sea. Not a second too soon.

Tornadoes that raked the Midwest and Southeast have left at least 20 people dead, including nine in Enterprise, Alabama, where a tornado hit the high school. Nine also died in Georgia, where another tornado hit a hospital in Americus, near Jimmy Carter's hometown of Plains.

We have reporters on both scenes, and we'll be going to them all afternoon for updates on that.

Let's go to our Susan Roesgen. She is in Enterprise with the very latest for us -- Susan. SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN GULF COAST CORRESPONDENT: Don, this is the high school where eight students were killed as they huddled in the hallway when the tornadoes struck. And an adult whose name we don't know yet, we don't know any of the circumstances, who was on a street just about a block away was also killed here.

Now, the National Weather Service is about to give a news briefing to tell us just how strong the tornado was. They've done an aerial survey, a ground survey of this area.

We know from emergency management officials here that the tornado took about an eight-mile path through this area. It destroyed or damaged 150 homes in this area. And also, again, struck this -- struck this high school head-on and killed eight students.

Now I've just been told by our producer that we now know how strong the National Weather Service believes this tornado was. A 3 on the Fujita scale. Certainly that's something for our weather people there, Don, at CNN, to let us know how strong that is. But a 3 on the Fujita scale apparently from the National Weather Service -- Don.

LEMON: A 3. We'll check in with our Reynolds Wolf in just a little bit. He can tell us all about that.

Susan Roesgen, in the meantime, thank you so much for your report. We'll check back with you.

WHITFIELD: And the worst of the storms took aim at three counties in Georgia, as well, and ended nine lives. The small rural town of Americus, population 17,000, took a direct hit. And the hospital there is devastated.

Our Jeanne Meserve joins us now with the very latest from there.

How are they coping?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fredricka, right now, actually, they seem very curious. This is a town, as you mentioned, of about 17,000 people. And if you look over here, you can see a cluster standing up there on the road.

There have been a lot of people, a lot of pedestrians coming by, taking a look at the incredible damage here. They are taking photos with their cell phones. They've got out their video recorders. They want to remember what this looked like. They have never seen anything like it in...

WHITFIELD: All right. I think we're losing that signal completely. We thought maybe it had a chance. But we'll try to get back with Jeanne Meserve as soon as we're able to.

LEMON: I think she's back.

WHITFIELD: Oh, Jeanne. Are you there?

All right. Let's try this again. MESERVE: I'm here. Can you hear me?

WHITFIELD: All right. Good. Yes, I think we can hear you. Why don't you continue.

Sorry about that.

MESERVE: Oh, great. I was talking about the fact that so many people here are coming out to look at what's happened. Here you see some of the destruction. And over here, some of the people who have come out to take photographs. Some of them have out their cell phones or cameras. Some people have video recorders. They want to remember this because they've never seen anything like it before.

This was a thriving shopping center yesterday. There was a supermarket here, there was a nail salon, there was a pool supply store, there was a cable company office. And you can see it is all completely devastated.

Down the road next to this mall is a small residential area. And down there, residents tell us, lived the two people -- or were the two people who lost their lives last night. We are told by local residents that there were three people taking shelter in a house. Two of those three died.

If you look at the pictures, you'd just be stunned to see what this tornado did to the house. It's really little more than a slab and a couple of walls. And as is so often the case in these sorts of situations, you can look inside and you see people's lives.

You see their clothes. You see their furniture. You see their photographs. It's heart-wrenching.

We spoke to some of the neighbors who lived down in that neighborhood. One woman said that she heard that noise that sounded like a train. She knew what it was, that it was a tornado coming.

She grabbed her kids, got them all down. She said the house started falling in around them. But, although they lost everything, they are alive and she's grateful for that.

The hospital that you mentioned just about a block away from here. There were more than 50 patients in there when the tornado hit.

After it hit, clearly the hospital had major problems with its structure. Windows were out. There was water on the floor. And they had to get those patients out of there, and they did. They loaded them on to buss and on to ambulances.

They took them all to local hospitals. Nobody lost their life in that evacuation. It was just those two people who unfortunately were down here right in the path of what was very obviously a very powerful twister.

Back to you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much.

Jeanne Meserve.

In fact, let's talk a little bit more about how powerful this twister was. CNN meteorologist Reynolds Wolf has been all over this, forecasting yesterday, and was able to eyewitness the path of these tornadoes.


LEMON: A lot going on with those storms. And CNN's I-Reporters helped us track the devastation from these storms.

Coming up, we'll speak to the man who shot this video of a funnel cloud weighing down on Enterprise, Alabama. You don't want to miss that right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.


LEMON: It is just past 2:15 Eastern. Here are a few of the stories we're working on in the CNN NEWSROOM.

We're learning more by the minute about a deadly bus accident in Atlanta involving a college baseball team. More pictures and eyewitness accounts are coming in following yesterday's deadly tornadoes in the Southeast.

And it's another weekend in limbo for Scooter Libby. The jury in his perjury trial calls it a week with no verdict.

WHITFIELD: Heartbreak in southeastern Alabama. In that town of Enterprise, look at the devastation. Nine people died there in yesterday's storm. Eight were teenagers, killed when a powerful tornado devastated the high school they were in.

Kevin Smith is a student at that high school. When the tornado hit, he grabbed on to a locker and he just held on.

And Kevin, we're thankful that you are able to be with us today and tell us about your experience.

So, at what point did you say, let me hold on to this locker because this is it?

KEVIN SMITH, TORNADO SURVIVOR: Well, it was about the point that I saw, like, the tornado coming through the lunch room. And I just did the only thing that I could do. I just held on, and my friend April held on to me. So, it was just natural.

WHITFIELD: And so at that point, were you -- were you on your way to another area of the school to get with the other students and you saw this tornado ripping through the cafeteria?

SMITH: We were all -- I was sitting in the first hall, and as soon as I saw it, they all told us to duck, and so we ducked and I just grabbed a locker. WHITFIELD: And what did you hear? And what did you experience while you were holding on?

SMITH: Well, as soon as it happened, I really couldn't hear anything. It was like a TV was on like three or something. It was all like on mute. I just couldn't hear anything.

WHITFIELD: Interesting. And was there -- I understand from some other students' accounts that there was screaming and then the lights went out, and then people started seeing debris flying. Was that about what your experience was like?

SMITH: Yes, the lights just went out. It was flickering right before it happened. Everybody started screaming, and it just -- it was the scariest thing I've ever experienced before.

WHITFIELD: And so when the wind stopped and you realized, OK, this storm has passed, then what?

SMITH: Well, I tended to my friend Tyler, and he was just spazzing out, and I did the only thing I could. I tried to comfort him, and I had to carry him out. And it was...

WHITFIELD: Really frightening.

SMITH: He was crying, and I just started -- yes, it was really frightening.

WHITFIELD: And then I understand you started trying to call your dad. Is that right? Or text him or something?

SMITH: Yes. I mean, at that point, he tried to come up and get me. But he's -- he just said the line was too long and, you know, nobody thought it would touch down. And he left before it happened and -- yes.

WHITFIELD: And so how did your friend do? I mean, your friend that you were trying to help out that you thought maybe was having some seizures or some sort of anxiety attack, how did he or she do in the end?

SMITH: Well, he did a lot better at the end when we went up to the church. And he was -- we just looked back on it and started crying, and I met my other friend, Brent (ph). And he was just covered in blood, and it was just a very scary experience.

WHITFIELD: Well, scary, indeed. And Kevin, we're glad you are able to share the story with us, but at the same time, we wish the best to you and your friends and everyone else who is dealing with the shakeup over this string of tornadoes.

Thanks so much.


LEMON: We'll continue to follow this story and another story, an interstate tragedy for a baseball team far from home. What happened on this exit?

We'll look at that straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

And who is dissing and who is making nice with the conservatives? A powerful group gathers in Washington, but a Republican presidential candidate is noticeably absent. Does he have the right stuff to win the White House?

We'll ask our Bill Schneider straight ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.




WHITFIELD: Hello, I'm Fredricka Whitfield, live at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. Kyra is off today.

LEMON: And I'm Don Lemon. The twister captured by our iReporters, We'll talk with an eyewitness who watched and recorded the Enterprise Alabama tornado as it grew. All the breaking developments right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

WHITFIELD: But first, back to the college road trip that took a tragic turn in Atlanta. A bus carrying a college baseball team from Ohio plunged off an overpass early this morning and fell on to the interstate below. At least six people are dead, more than two dozen others injured. The bus was carrying 35 people, most of them baseball players from Bluffton University on their way to a tournament in Sarasota, Florida.

A.J. Ramthun says he was jolted awake when the bus hit the overpass wall. He says he remembers a teammate tapping him on the head and telling him to get out, because there was gas all over. He spoke to reporters outside Grady Memorial Hospital today.


A.J. HAMPTON, BLUFFTON BASEBALL PLAYER: That was involved on the bus accident this morning. Pretty much I just wanted to -- I wanted to give my heartfelt -- to the families, to the baseball players involved, my teammates. I understand four of them are deceased.

I just wanted to say, I just wish there was something I could do to the families who lost their loved ones. It's -- this is something that's not going to leave the guys who were on that bus this morning. This is going to be with us forever. And we've been living together, practicing together and just -- we've been a family for the past five months. And just it's something like this morning really makes you think twice about life. And I just wanted to say -- I just wanted to give my condolences to the families who suffered losses. I just wish there was something we could do.

QUESTION: Can you tell us your recollection of the crash?


QUESTION: Can you tell us what you remember of the crash?

HAMPTON: I was asleep, like most of the guys on the bus were. It was roughly 4:00 in the morning. All I remember, as I woke up, I woke up as soon as the bus hit the overpass' wall. And that's when I looked up. And the bus landed on the left side, which is the side I was sitting on. I just looked out and saw the road coming up after me, and that's all. I remember our catcher, Curt Schroeder (ph), tapped me on the head, seeing if I was awake, telling me we needed to get out because there was gas all over the place, and that's about it.

QUESTION: Was there a plan to pull off the highway at that point? Or were you just driving through?

HAMPTON: We were supposed to be driving all the way through. The next time we were supposed to stop was supposed to be 8:00 this morning for breakfast, so...

QUESTION: Sir, can you discuss your injuries, how you're feeling right now?

HAMPTON: I'm one of the lucky ones. I broke my collar bone. I had to get stitches in my ear, my -- both corners of my eyes and my finger was ripped to the bone. But I was lucky. I'm feeling fine. You know, I'm going to heal. Cuts and bruises are going to go away. But there's just some things -- my older brother, he's on the team as well. He got trapped underneath the bus. He has hip damage. It's just -- you know, he might not recover from that. And I don't know how to come up to some of these guys and say, I'm sorry, while I'm standing. You know, it's just not a lot you can do.

QUESTION: Have you spoken to your parents?

HAMPTON: I spoke to my mom and dad. I spoke to my mom as soon as it happened, and my dad was still off at work. And I eventually got ahold of my dad, as well while I was at the hospital. And he will be coming down to take me back home.

QUESTION: Where are they from?

QUESTION: Where are you from?

HAMPTON: I'm from Springfield, Ohio.

QUESTION: Will you describe the scene on the bus after the impact? Are you all trying to get out, trying to manage what was going on?

HAMPTON: The guys who walked away uninjured pretty much, they were really selfless about it. They helped other people. They -- I told you earlier, Curt Schroeder helped me off the bus. One of the guys, I drove here with another patient from the other hospital. One of the guys, he was -- he got hit pretty hard, but he helped him out of the bus. He -- it was just -- it was what you expect out of any college team, just more concern for others than you have about yourself. And guys passing up the opportunity to get on a squad and go to the hospital so that other people who are seriously injured could go.

Coach Miller, he had to go to the hospital. We had a guy back off the squad and say, take Coach Miller. It's just -- it what you would expect. You know, even in a situation like that, when you're this tightly knit, it's -- you don't care about yourself after that.

QUESTION: A.J., what caused the injuries to your face? What was it that caused that?

HAMPTON: I was sitting on the window seat, so...

QUESTION: The window?

HAMPTON: Yes, it was the window.

QUESTION: A.J., describe what you heard after the crash.

HAMPTON: I didn't really -- I don't really have a whole lot of memory of exactly what started first, but the first thing I heard was Curt telling me to get off the bus, there's gas everywhere. I heard some guys crying, I'm stuck, I'm stuck. I walked by Coach Grandy (ph), who is now in stable condition, but at that time, he was so bad off. And I tried to help him up and that's when I realized my shoulder was hurt. I told coach he was just going to have to sit there and wait for the medics to get there. And Curt tried to help him up as well. But our coach is a big guy. It was just chaos in my mind.

QUESTION: Were you aware of where your brother was at that point?

RAMTHUN: No. I had no idea. I thought, you know, I saw Curt Schroeder (ph). He was sitting back by where my brother was. He got up and walked off the bus. I thought maybe Mike was already out. I sat there for a good 10 minutes and then I realized my brother is not out, I haven't seen my brother. And then one of his friends said that Mike was stuck underneath the bus. And it was about 9:30 this morning before I knew if he was all right or anything.

QUESTION: Have you been able to see your other...

RAMTHUN: I'm on my way after this.

QUESTION: What was it like inside the hospital? Talk about the mood. What are the guys doing?

RAMTHUN: I haven't been there yet. I came from -- is it Peabody?


RAMTHUN: I just came from there. I'm going to up to meet my teammates. I just wanted to give my condolences to the families first. QUESTION: Just to confirm, you guys were sleeping?

RAMTHUN: Yes, we were all sleeping.

QUESTION: You weren't expected to stop in Atlanta. You were expected to stop for breakfast a couple hours from there?

RAMTHUN: Correct.

QUESTION: How fast the medical crews got there?

RAMTHUN: It was instant. It was instant. I live in Ohio and it's impressive if somebody get there's within 10, 20 minutes of an accident. Here it was maybe five, at most.


WHITFIELD: Ramthun's older brother was on the bus. Mark Ramthun got trapped underneath it and suffered hip damage.

LEMON: And so the question on everyone's mind, how did this happen? Police say the bus driver may have been confused by how the lanes are divided.

Our Chad Myers breaks it down for us.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: This is a Google Earth map of I- 75 Southbound, I-75 Northbound. We have HOV lanes here in Atlanta, high-occupancy vehicles. The bus was in the HOV lane. It should have stayed on the road surface, but instead, took the exit. This is the first exit to the left at all in the HOV lanes for Atlanta. All the other exits are off to the right. So the driver was in the left exit lane and didn't even know he was there, continued up the exit ramp to the stop sign, and then had no time to turn right or left, or for that matter to stop in time before going off the bridge.

This exit, in fact, is notorious for, well, one other accident we know of back in 1991. A driver trying to get into the northbound HOV direction. Here's the lane he wanted to take, stayed left of the barrier and went the wrong way on i-75. He was going northbound, the wrong direction. About nine or 10 miles later caused the big crash, killing the father of a family heading to Disney World.

LEMON: Well, today's accident killed six people, 29 others hurt, three critically.

WHITFIELD: And when we come back, more on the tornadoes that swept through the south. We'll speak to the man who shot this remarkable video of a funnel cloud forming and rained down on Enterprise, Alabama. CNN's iReporter shares his story, coming up next.


LEMON: Talk about being an eyewitness. When the tornadoes struck Enterprise, Alabama, Jason Collins, well he couldn't believe his eyes. He took his cell phone out and started recording these images. Look at them. He was at a sandwich shop parking lot just two miles from Enterprise High School and that's where a lot of that damage was done. He is in army flight school in Fort Rucker, Alabama, where he's learning how to fly blackhawk helicopters and sent in the video to CNN iReport and he joins us now by telephone.

Jason, first of all, thank you so much for joining us today.


LEMON: Ever see anything like that?

COLLINS: No. This is the first time I've ever seen a tornado anything like this in real life. On television before, but never anything like this.

LEMON: Yes and you are from upstate New York, so this is a bit unusual for you. I can imagine it's unusual for anyone. But tell us your story. You were in the parking lot. You and your girlfriend if I'm recalling correctly were getting something to eat and then you saw this coming?

COLLINS: Exactly. We were heading toward the restaurant, we were just pulling in when we heard the emergency news broadcast from over the radio. And we started looking around and we saw the cloud in front of us. We weren't really aware it was a tornado until we started seeing weird flashes of light, which we believe were the transformers actually blowing up when the tornado went through. And just then we started looking up, we could see the winds were really whipping around where we were. So we left that parking lot, went over to another parking lot a little further away where I at that point filmed the tornado.

LEMON: Yes, and Jason we don't want anyone to put themselves in harm's way. Did you realize how dangerous this situation was when you started filming this?

COLLINS: No, not really. We were kind of realizing as it was happening that it was such a huge tornado. We were looking for shelter. We were right next to the sandwich shop, we were going to go in there and we actually did right after I stopped the video, where the sandwich shop people had all the doors locked and they were keeping everybody as secure as possible. As soon as we realized the magnification or the scope of the tornado, we went inside.

LEMON: So you were -- tell us a bit more about what you were seeing and hearing because you talked about the winds and all of that. I understand that there were tree limbs snapping and then you heard some sparks and wind. Tell us about the velocity, how high the winds were and what you heard.

COLLINS: Well, we would really see -- my girlfriend could see a lot of it as well. It looked like maybe carport roofs or sheet metal flying around in the air, a lot of debris. We went see any tree limbs but where we were, I don't think they were high enough in the air. But we did see a bunch of debris flying around and then you could see the power going out down the block and it came toward us, and then eventually that restaurant lost power. So we did see a bunch of stuff flying around. The tornado, when we started filming had just crossed over 84. So where I started filming, it had been at the high school maybe 15 seconds prior to that.

LEMON: Jason, thank you so much. We're glad to get this video from you. And we're glad that you are OK because obviously, this is a pretty serious situation. So I'm happy that when you realized just how serious this was that you did take shelter and you stopped videotaping this with your cell phone. So thanks so much for joining us. Thanks for being an iReporter for us, OK.

COLLINS: Thank you for having me.

LEMON: OK and we don't want anybody to put themselves in harm's way, but when weather becomes the news, you can become a CNN correspondent. If you see severe weather happening, send us an iReport. Go to and click on iReport or type right into your cell phone and share your photos and your video with us.

WHITFIELD: The big man hunt, make that teen hunt, is over, so say police in suburban Atlanta. The latest on the so-called Barbie bandits. That's straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

LEMON: And not exactly 101 Dalmatians, but four little Yorkshire Terriers puppy napping caught on tape right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.


WHITFIELD: Final moments and a fond farewell. A funeral with everything Anna Nicole Smith would have wanted. Fans, pink flowers and the people who loved her. About 300 friends and family were invited to this morning's service as a baptist church in the Bahamas. "Entertainment Tonight" reports that Larry Birkhead and Howard K. Stern were first to arrive and the two shook hands inside the church. A much smaller group was allowed to attend a graveside service that ended just a short while ago.

And tonight, more on the funeral for Anna Nicole Smith. "LARRY KING LIVE" has eyewitness accounts from close friends attending and she's finally laid to rest beside her son in the Bahamas. That's tonight at 9:00 Eastern.

LEMON: Well this next story is less "Thelma and Louise" and more "Beavis and Butthead." Easy to poke fun at, but it's a very serious subject. These teenage girls dubbed by some the Barbie bandits, are in big trouble today. So is a guy -- on the right -- you'll see. He is also charged with this bank theft. Here's how you may remember the girls. Caught on surveillance camera earlier this week, police say they made off with a bag of money in what was not your run of the mill bank job. Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They look like they should be hanging out at the mall, not robbing a bank. Forget Bonnie and Clyde. These two are known as --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Barbie Bandits.

MOOS: Millions of people are looking since Cobb County police, outside Atlanta, distributed these surveillance photos of a blond and brunette, described as turning heads in tight jeans and sunglasses, as they entered a grocery store and robbed a Bank of America counter located inside.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought, what are these children doing? They look like kids. We decided they must have skipped school to rob a bank.

MOOS: Sounds like a movie. Actually, it was a movie.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's it! A bank robbery!


MOOS: In "Sugar & Spice" a cheerleading squad, in masks --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is going to be the best bank robbery ever because --


MOOS: Robs a bank.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Down on the ground!

MOOS: Though the cheerleaders use their moves to block the surveillance camera. The real girls got caught on camera, smiling, no less.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like this is all fun and games.

MOOS: They did not display a weapon. They just handed over a note, demanding cash. Other nicknames range from Hottie Bandits to Bug-Eyed Bandits, after the sunglasses that don't really hide their identities. But the sunglasses do resemble Guccis, according to those who sell them.

(On camera): How much the price on these?


MOOS: I guess if you rob a bank --

(Voice over): You could afford them.

The police say only the girls got a considerable amount of loot. There have been other young female bankers, a 15-year-old in Ohio last year. The one in the hood. She got caught.

So did the then 19-year-old cell phone robber who was convicted of knocking off four Virginia banks. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who were you talking with on the cell phone?

MOOS: She was sentenced to 12 years.

Police say they don't know if the Barbie Bandits used a get-away car. They don't know if they're old enough to drive. The cheerleaders in "Sugar & Spice" got caught an put in a line up. An eye-witness says the Barbie Bandits looked like they spent more time dressing for robbery than actually preparing for it. The photos resulted in a flood of tips to police, who sure don't think of the Barbie Bandits as Barbie Dolls.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And now she says --

BARBIE DOLL: Meet me at the mall.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's she going to say next?

MOOS: How about, I want to call my lawyer. Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


WHITFIELD: All right. Well, watch them scatter. Pricey puppies try to outsmart a gang of thieves. Dog-napped, that's in the NEWSROOM.


WHITFIELD: Let's check in again with Reynolds Wolf. Fortunately we don't have the kind of severe weather today that we saw yesterday.