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Drag Race Horror Show; Children Killed; Missing Woman; Hidden Hotel Fees

Aired June 18, 2007 - 10:00   ET


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: A dangerous storm bringing torrential rains to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area overnight. Two mobile home parks in Haltom City overrun. Some families forced to the roofs of their homes to escape the high water. A four-year-old girl was swept from her mother's arms. Her body was found this morning. Haltom City had between four and five inches of rain just within one hour. There are reports of some areas getting as much as 10 inches over the weekend. Flooding also forced the closing of parts of Interstate 35 at the Oklahoma/Texas border.
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And as Chad was telling us last hour, as opposed to this being some well organized storms, we were talking about cells here that just sort of exploded and caused all of this rain, all of this flooding.


HARRIS: A tragedy in a small town this morning. Selmer, Tennessee, mourning the death of six young people at a charity car show. The horror caught on tape.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God. Oh, my God.


HARRIS: Well, the stunt is always a crowd pleaser, but this time things got off track. Now the search for answers. CNN's Sean Callebs is in Selmer.

And, Sean, I understand there is a news conference scheduled, oh, about 30 minutes from now?

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We're waiting on that news conference. It's actually going to be held in a town not terribly far from here, held by the Tennessee State Police. Now what we know from that time, we know that there are a group of investigators trying to piece together exactly what happened. We know the D.A. is going to be there. No criminal charges have been filed so far and we have no indication that there will be any announcement like that coming up in a half hour.

You talked about this being a small town. Certainly this tragedy is being felt very deeply. All six killed were either in their 20s or in their late teens. All very young. It happened during a charity event.

If you look behind me you can see some of the skid marks of this dragster during its wheels, just roared down through this area. It kept going. We have another camera down that way just a bit. You can see the base of a utility pole, a number of candles and other makeshift markers have been cropping up there over the last 48-hours. This certainly, indeed, is a town in mourning.



CALLEBS, (voice over): Everyone in Selmer, Tennessee, knew drag racers were going to burn rubber. It's what they came to see. But no one anticipated this. A powerful car lurching out of control into a crowd killing six and injuring more than twice that number. Thirty- five-year-old Renee Jones caught the whole episode on tape.

RENEE JONES, WITNESS: I just kept following it. And you could just see the car fishtail and then it hit.

CALLEBS: The dragster was driven by Troy Critchley. He's a 20- year veteran of the sport. Tennessee authorities spent much of the last two days interview Critchley. So far, no criminal charges have been filed.

MAYOR DAVID ROBINSON, SELMER, TENNESSEE: And Highway Patrol have told us that we should have a full report in about a week. I think the only thing we can do right now is really just kind of grieve together as a community.

CALLEBS: Each June, at least 40,000 people line this four-lane highway to watch an event called "Cars for Kids," a weekend that raises about $200,000 for a local children's hospital. This year the event also raised questioned. Why no protective barriers and why would a muscle car like this that can go from 0 to 200 in a matter of seconds be encouraged to go full throttle.

Blake Carroll, a chaplain with the McNairy County Sheriff's department, spent the weekend consoling families.

CHAPLAIN BLAKE CARROLL, MCNAIRY COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: The only thing that you can do basically in those times is just wrap your arms around those people and let them know that you love them and that God loves them and that you're praying for them and that you know the Lord will help them through times like these.


CALLEBS: Well, it's been a very sobering, very grim 48 hours for this area. There was a candlelight vigil here last night. We had a chance to speak with a number of people who were here at the time of the accident, including some people who were injured. No one wanted to talk on camera. You could see it in their faces, Tony, people just suffering, post-traumatic shock. This is something that's going to take this community sometime to get through. HARRIS: As you can imagine.

Hey, Sean, just a quick question here. What do we know about the driver, Critchley, and the owner of the race car?

CALLEBS: It's owned by a company called AMS. And we know Critchley spent much of Saturday evening and Sunday talking with authorities. He has now left this town. We presume he went back to his home in Wylie, Texas. AMS is closely monitoring what's going to be happening at this news conference coming up at the bottom of the hour. And we're told by their spokesman that they plan on issuing a statement after that news gathering. So we'll bring that to you as well.


HARRIS: OK. And, once again, the news conference is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

Sean Callebs.

Sean, thank you.

COLLINS: And now we want to tell you a little bit more about another story that we are following. A woman pregnant and missing. A search underway this morning for an Ohio woman who could give birth any day now. Jessie Davis vanished last week. Her mother says she found Davis' two-year-old son home alone on Friday and some disturbing signs in a single mom's bedroom.


PATTY PORTER, MISSING WOMAN'S MOTHER: Her comforter was off and her mattress was pushed over. Her night stand was knocked over. The lamp was knocked over. And somebody had poured bleach all over her carpet.

JANE DAVIS, MISSING WOMAN'S SISTER: It hurts my heart because I -- I mean, you know, she's the one that you look up to. She's your big sister. And she's such a strong person and you can't imagine that anything would ever happen to her. You know, she didn't have any enemies. She didn't -- she's never done anything wrong.


COLLINS: Investigators say a police officer is the father of the two-year-old boy and probably the father of the baby that Davis is carrying. He is married to another woman, but police say neither the officer nor his wife are suspects. We do expect a news conference on this story a little bit later today. You will see it live here in the NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: Another missing persons case we're following here in the NEWSROOM. Her family says she plans to be a lawyer. Now this woman may be at the center of a real life crime drama. We will speak with her mother this hour in the NEWSROOM. In military speak, they are collateral damage. Seven children killed in an coalition air strike in Afghanistan. The intended target, al Qaeda operatives. CNN's senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre joins us with more on this story this morning.

Jamie, good morning.


This is a case where the U.S. military and coalition forces targeted what they believe was a Taliban safe house. It was actually a complex in Paktika Province, in the southeastern part of Afghanistan, that included a mosque and a religious school. A madrassa.

After observing the area for the better part of a day, the U.S. military called in an air strike against the facility, believing that only suspected Taliban fighters were there. Afterwards, they discovered that seven children were among the dead. The U.S. military says it regrets the loss of civilian life, but it blames the Taliban for the deaths, saying that the children were forced to stay inside, were not allowed to leave and that's why the U.S. military did not know they were there.

Nevertheless, this is another incident in which unintended civilian deaths tends to undermine the U.S. and NATO effort to win the hearts and minds of local Afghans. As you can imagine, there's a lot of anger about this. And it's the latest in a continuing number of these incidents that Afghan President Hamid Karzai has complained about. The U.S. military says it's doing everything it can to reduce unintended civilian casualties. But again, in this case, clearly they thought they had enough intelligence to make a good strike and they did not have the information they need.

HARRIS: So, Jamie, any second-guessing of the intelligence at this point?

MCINTYRE: Well, you know, the problem is, you watch a target for a while, you think that you know what's going on in there and then you don't. And, of course, part of the problem is that there is a lot of fighting going on in Afghanistan. We have seen the Taliban striking back. And, of course, just yesterday the deadliest attack -- suicide bomb attack so far in Afghanistan killed at least 35 people when police trainers on a bus were hit by a suicide bomber. And we're seeing these same kind of tactics that insurgents in Iraq are using to bog down the U.S. military, appearing more often in Afghanistan now.

NATO says that the spring offensive that the Taliban threatened has actually been more of a NATO offensive. But in the last couple of days, especially with some fierce fighting in the south, we've seen that the Taliban has been able to launch some counter-offensives of their own.


HARRIS: CNN's senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre for us.

Jamie, thank you.

COLLINS: In the Middle East, a dramatic strategy shift involving the Palestinians. Israel and the west are lining up behind Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He's formed a new, temporary government, hoping to cement his Fatah movement's rule in the West Bank and weaken Hamas. The militant group violently took over Gaza last week.

Abbas' move brought a wave of support from the west, and the European Union says it will resume aid to the Palestinian government now that it no longer includes Hamas. There are reports the Bush administration is poised to do the same. The EU and the U.S. suspended direct funding after Hamas won parliamentary elections last year. Hamas refuses to recognize Israel. It is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.

HARRIS: Stacking the deck. A plan to break the bank. But instead, it was the FBI that hit the jackpot. That story in the NEWSROOM.

COLLINS: The International Space Station's computers getting a critical test just about 20 minutes from now. We're following it in the NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: Disastrous deluge. Several Ft. Worth homes hit by a flash flood. A developing story this morning, providing some incredible pictures, while leading to tragedy. The latest in the NEWSROOM..


COLLINS: Good morning, everyone. You are in the NEWSROOM. I'm Heidi Collins.

Her family says she plans to be a lawyer. Now this woman may be at the center of a real-life crime drama. We'll speak with her mother, coming up in the NEWSROOM.


COLLINS: Missing on vacation. Authorities are searching for a New York woman. She was last seen in a Florida nightclub. CNN's Susan Candiotti explains.


SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): At a homemade shrine on a dining room table . . .

SYLVIA HENRY, MOTHER: I look to the mountains. Where will my help come from? My help will come from the Lord.

CANDIOTTI: Sylvia and Steve Henry are playing police will find their daughter alive. Twenty-two-year-old Stepha is still missing after vanishing nearly three weeks ago.

STEVE HENRY, FATHER: I think she's being held against her will. That's what I think it is.

CANDIOTTI: Why do you think that, Mr. Henry?

STEVE HENRY: Because Stepha would never go off on her own like that. Never.

CANDIOTTI: The honors grad from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, who worked as an alum in the president's office, was in Florida with her teenage sister for a Memorial Day weekend. Police say Henry left her aunt's apartment very late at night, told her she was going to a nightclub. Her aunt saw her niece get into a car with a family acquaintance. And that's the last time she saw her.

Stepha Henry did go to a nightclub's private party. Luckily the owners were shooting a promotional video, and her's Henry in a freeze- frame released by police. But what about the friend who took her there?

CMDR. LINDA O'BRIEN, MIAMI-DADE POLICE: He said that he left the club early. That when he left the club, she was still there and with some other people that he did not know.

CANDIOTTI: Police say he also told them he drove Henry to the club that night in a borrowed late model Acura Integra and police can't find it either. Police are flying over more than 2,000 canals and wetlands, where vehicles are often dumped, looking for the mystery car. We flew with them and they spotted something from the air. See that white beneath the water. But it turned out to be the wrong car.

LT. CLIFF NELSON, MIAMI-DADE POLICE: There are pockets of wild areas and those are areas that if someone were to get into the middle of, no one might find anything in there for months.

CANDIOTTI: Not what Henry's frantic parents want to hear. They've been calling their daughter's cell phone. All they hear is this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sorry, that voice mailbox is full. Please call again later.

CANDIOTTI: Police suspect Henry last used her phone to check her voice mail around the time the club closed.

STEVE HENRY: Stepha, we love you and everyone else loves you, and we would love to see you home.

CANDIOTTI: Henry was planning on law school last year and loves legal mysteries.

SYLVIA HENRY: We will protect you and you come and go now and forever. Amen.

CANDIOTTI: Now her parents pray she's not part of a real-life crime drama.

Susan Candiotti, CNN, Miami.


HARRIS: Stepha Henry's mother, Sylvia, joins us from Miami.

Sylvia, thanks for you time this morning. I know very difficult circumstances. But let's see if we can sort of drill down on the investigation and figure out where things stand right now. Do you know the family friend who took your daughter, Stepha, to the club that night?

SYLVIA HENRY: No, I don't know the person, but she knows them.

HARRIS: So has he explained to your satisfaction why he left her at the club?

SYLVIA HENRY: The police did all the investigations and all the interviews. I haven't spoken to anyone who was in contact with her that night.

HARRIS: Is he a person of interest in your mind?

SYLVIA HENRY: Well, I don't know, because -- you know, I don't know what happened, so I can't really say he's a person of interest. But, of course, I would like him to be interviewed over and over by the police.

HARRIS: Have you spoken with him at all?

SYLVIA HENRY: No, I haven't spoken to him.

HARRIS: Give me a sense of where the investigation stands right now. What do you know that you didn't know, say, over the weekend? What kind of contact are you having with authorities? Is it daily? Give me an idea.

SYLVIA HENRY: Yes, I speak to the detectives every day. Sometimes at night. Sometimes during the day. And the last thing I know that they had a lead and they were working on that lead.

HARRIS: I understand this is an annual trip to Florida to visit with your sister. But was your sister aware, could she shed any light on the social circle that your daughter was traveling in? I know she's a grown woman. She's 22-years-old.

SYLVIA HENRY: Yes. My sister doesn't have enough information on that, but she knows that she went with a friend that she knows.

HARRIS: What do you think -- what are your thoughts, your concerns? What do you think happened?

SYLVIA HENRY: I know Stepha is not this kind of person. She is very responsible. She's honest. She has goals set in mind. She has everything in order. She does her things the way that you would expect a young lady to do it. She has fun and she also do her schoolwork and she also works diligently at the president's intern office at John Jay College.

HARRIS: Have police checked her e-mail accounts? Have those accounts been able to shed any light on her comings and goings, who she was in contact with? And have those people been contacted?

SYLVIA HENRY: I am sure the police check everything, because they told me they were doing a thorough job on it. But they didn't giver me any information as to who she spoke to or who they think might be a suspect.

HARRIS: How aggressive can you be in a situation like this? Is there any more that -- I know you're probably racking your brains on this, but is there anything more that you feel you can do, should do at this time?

SYLVIA HENRY: Well, I'm thinking now that I may have to bring in some more -- get some more help in locating my daughter.

HARRIS: And tell me why that is. Do you feel like you're getting maximum cooperation from the local authorities?

SYLVIA HENRY: Yes, I am getting enough maximum -- I am getting a lot. I'm very pleased with that. I would need the media, the local media in Miami, to keep it on the air more often. It's not the -- I want the channels, the local channels here, to keep it on so that they can know she's still missing and the comment (ph) would be, looking out to see her anywhere that would call the police or Crime Stoppers.

HARRIS: What kind of additional resources would you like to see brought to bear to find your daughter?

SYLVIA HENRY: Well, first of all, I'd like the media to give her more coverage because she's a tourist. She's from New York. She came here on a weekend. And I think she should get much more coverage so that they can assist in helping her.

HARRIS: Anything else that law enforcement can do? I don't know if the FBI is involved. I don't know that this even rises to the FBI level yet. But is there anything that law enforcement can do that it's not doing now or more of what it's doing?

SYLVIA HENRY: Well, I will have to speak to the authorities later. I don't know if they contacted the FBI as yet. I haven't spoken to them on that -- about that as yet. However, as far as the authorities are concerned, I have been updated all the time and I'm looking forward to seeing my daughter pretty soon.

HARRIS: Sylvia Henry, I hope the next time we talk to you, it is with great news that your daughter has been found and she is safe and sound.

SYLVIA HENRY: Thank you very much.

HARRIS: Sylvia, thank you. SYLVIA HENRY: Thank you.

COLLINS: We are waiting to find out what investigators are saying about a deadly drag racing accident over the weekend. Six people were killed and more than a dozen still in the hospital. Live coverage from there. A Tennessee Highway Patrol news conference minutes away now, coming up right here in the NEWSROOM.

And flash floods in the Ft. Worth area. Dramatic rescues after high waters swamp homes and cars. Details ahead in the NEWSROOM.


Gas prices are higher this summer, but did you know hotel fees are on the rise, too? We'll tell you what to do next on "Top Tips" in the NEWSROOM.


COLLINS: I want to remind you, we are waiting for a news conference, you see it on your screen there. And this is regarding this horrible accident we've been telling you about from Tennessee, southwestern Tennessee to be exact. Six people dead, more than a dozen people injured after a drag racing accident during a parade. We will tell you all about it and listening to that coverage of the Tennessee Highway Patrol. Their news conference just minutes away now right here in the NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: Before we get there, let's get your to New York, Wall Street, the big board. An hour into the trading day. And as you can see, the Dow down 15 points. We understand the Nasdaq is down about six as well. We are checking all of the morning's business headlines. Ali Velshi is in for Susan Lisovicz right here in the NEWSROOM.

COLLINS: Staying in a hotel. Well, those chocolates on your pillow may be sweet, but rising surcharges could leave you bitter at checkout.

That's pretty good.

HARRIS: Yes. Yes.

COLLINS: So how do you avoid unexpected fees? Well, Gerri Willis is here. She's our personal finance editor with more on these great tips that everybody could probably use.


WILLIS: Hey, Heidi.

They're not good, are they? They're not good at all. Expensive.

COLLINS: I'm telling you, up, up, up.

WILLIS: Right. Well, you know, consumers spend about $1.75 billion on hotel feels and surcharges according to a recent study. Let's take a look at some of these numbers in details. 2003 consumers spent $1 billion in fees and surcharges. 2005, 1.4. Today -- you see the plan here, it goes up, up, up each and every year.


COLLINS: No question about that. What do you need to look out for? And is there anything a consumers can do, because maybe pack a tent?

WILLIS: Well, you could do that. But, look, if you have a hotel with a lot of amenities, the fitness center, the pool, the hiking trail, look, you could be charged $40 a day even if you don't use the services. It's called a resort amenities fee. And some hotels even have what's called an energy surcharge fee that can range from $3 to $6 a day. And don't forget about the mini bar. You know it's expensive to use anything out of it, but there's also the restocking fees of $2.50 on the first item for everything the guests remove.

COLLINS: Come on.

WILLIS: I know, this is just crazy.

COLLINS: I'll restock it myself. I mean, for what was it, $2.50 every time something's taken out of that? Crazy.

So, obviously, it's not only just hidden fees. What other fees, though, are rising when we look at the hotel industry?

WILLIS: Cancellation fees. It used to be that if you didn't cancel your room by 6:00 p.m. of the day you were checking in, you'd be charged for the first night. But today, if you don't cancel 48 or even 72 hours in advance, you could be on the hook for the entire length of your stay. Early departure fees are on the rise, too. If you check out a day early, you'll be charged $50 or you may have to pay for the night you didn't stay. More and more and more fees.

COLLINS: Yes. So I guess when you're making these reservations, the first thing you do is talk to the person on the other end of the line about what exactly their rules are. Because I imagine if people get these bills, they look at them and just go ballistic.

WILLIS: Well, you know, people typically, they wait until they get the bill and then they want to argue about all the fees. That's not the way to do it. When you're making the reservation, ask about those fees and surcharges, if they're going to be automatically applied to your bill. And get the name of the person you're talking to. That will help if you need to dispute the charge later. You can also ask about the fees at check-in, but you just won't have as much leverage. And one thing to keep in mind here, the fees may not be described on the website. So it's important to get somebody on the phone to talk about it.

And a reminder to your viewers, Heidi, if you have a question or a tip, or if you want to talk about hotel fees, send us an e-mail to We answer them right here every Friday. Boy, I'd be happy if I could get a reservation from the actual hotel I'm staying at, as opposed to the guy who's about 50 states away, or maybe a different country.

WILLIS: You've got to call them and get what you need, and tell them, you know, you don't want to pay these extra fees, because it really adds up over the long term.

COLLINS: No kidding. All right, Gerri Willis, thanks so much. Good tips, especially for summer travel. Thanks.

WILLIS: You're welcome.

Good morning, everyone, 10:30 Eastern, I'm Heidi Collins.

HARRIS: And I'm Tony Harris. Good morning, everyone.

A dangerous severe weather situation in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. Overnight torrential rain brought flash flooding. Two mobile- home parks in Haltom City overrun. Some families forced to roofs of their homes to escape the high water. A 4-year-old girl was swept from her mother's arms. Her body was found this morning, Haltom City, had between four and five inches of rain just within one hour. There are reports of some areas getting as much as 10 inches over the weekend. The flooding also forces part of Interstate 35 at the Oklahoma-Texas State line to close.


HARRIS: Tragedy in Tennessee -- the search for answers is under way right now. A news conference getting started any minute. Live coverage as we follow the story of a deadly drag racing stunt in the NEWSROOM.

COLLINS: And the search for two missing American soldiers. A raid north of Baghdad turns up evidence.

We'll have the story for you ahead in the NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: Stacking the deck, a plan to break the bank, but instead it was the FBI that hit the jackpot. That story in the NEWSROOM.


COLLINS: Eighteen years without a problem, now tragedy. This morning the search for answers in Selmer, Tennessee. Six young people were killed during a drag-racing stunt at a charity car show. More than a dozen others were hurt. The scene caught on tape.

The stunt a crowd-pleaser at the annual event, but what went wrong this time? Witnesses are trying to help with that question.


KYLEY JONES, WITNESS: What I saw was the car careening into the crowd after something going wrong, and it was completely horrific, bodies being thrown everywhere, pieces of car, the pole, no telling what else was being thrown. It wasn't a very nice sight to see at all.

And I thought as soon as that car took off and when he didn't let off, where the founder of Cars for Kids told him to shut off, I knew something was going to go wrong right then.


COLLINS: All of the victims who died in the crash were young people in their teens and 20s. We are awaiting a news conference. You see the microphones there. And a gentleman coming to the microphone. This is the Tennessee Department of Safety and the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Let's go ahead and listen in for just a moment.

DAVID MITCHELL, TENNESSEE COMMISSION OF SAFETY: Good morning. My name is David Mitchell. I'm the commissioner of safety for the state of Tennessee.

The community of Selmer, Tennessee has suffered, and continues to suffer from a tragic race car mishap on Saturday evening. Joining me today from the Tennessee Highway Patrol are Lieutenant Colonel Danny Wilson and Captain Robert Melton of the Jackson, Tennessee district.

Also with us this morning are district Attorney General Mike Dunavant, Selmer Mayor David Robinson, McNairy County Mayor Jay Templeton, McNairy County Sheriff Ricky Rohatyn (ph), Selmer Police Chief Neal Burks (ph) and Selmer Alderman Harry Smith.

On behalf of Governor Phil Bredesen, I want all the victims and the family members to know we are deeply saddened about the losses of their loved ones. Our prayers are with each of the families and the citizens of Selmer. The Tennessee Highway Patrol is conducting a thorough and comprehensive investigation into the tragic event that occurred on Saturday evening.

Significant investigative resources from the criminal investigation division and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation will interview all witnesses who may provide information relative to this incident.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol Criminal Incident Response Team was deployed to the scene and will complete a reconstruction of the crash.

The driver of the vehicle in question, Troy Warren Critchley, and his crew of mechanics, have all been interviewed and are being cooperative.

At this time, the investigation has determined that six individuals lost their lives, and at least 18 individuals are being treated in five area hospitals. The Tennessee highway patrol will provide a comprehensive investigative report to Attorney General Mike Dunavant at the conclusion of this investigation. If there are any individuals who have specific information that may be of value to this investigation and have not been interviewed by the Tennessee Highway Patrol, please call the Jackson district of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

At this time, we'll take a few questions.

QUESTION: In the investigation, what's being done to find out why if there is somebody who is responsible for more safety precautions (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

MITCHELL: Well, we're taking a comprehensive look at all of the factors around this event and the tragic crash. That's what our CERT team does -- they are specialists at reconstructing a crash and this takes some time.

We put this at a very high priority in the state of Tennessee, and we've brought significant resources in here to interview every possible witness and those victims that we'll be able to talk with.

QUESTION: Do you have any idea how long the investigation will take?

MITCHELL: It's difficult to put a time frame on that, but we will. This is of the highest priority in the state of Tennessee at this time, and especially for the Department of Safety, and I know that General Dunnivan would probably like to make a few comments on that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, good morning. First, let me say that our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims of this tragic crash and those who have also been critically injured.

I want to thank the members of the Tennessee highway patrol, the critical incident response team, the TBI, The McNairy Sheriff's department, the Selmer police department, all of these officials have worked very closely hand in hand to swiftly and comprehensively investigate this matter.

This is somewhat of a complex matter. It was a complex scene, many people were there. We are still in the midst of this ongoing investigation, very preliminarily at this time -- we have some information about that.

I'll be reviewing all of that with officers and agents from these investigative departments, and as soon as they can get that information to me, we'll be making decisions about whether and what, if any, crime may be charged as a result of this, but I want to thank them all for working so diligently and so well together on this.

We certainly want the people of Selmer and McNairy County to know that we are doing everything that we can to address these issues regarding public safety and responsibility as well.

COLLINS: We've been listening into the Texas Department of Safety commissioner, Tennessee -- I'm sorry, Tennessee Department of Safety commission, Tennessee Highway Patrol, all discussing this horrible situation that happened over the weekend, a drag racing, parade if you will, it was a charity event for children now, six people are dead, several others wounded. I believe the number he gave was 15 people injured in all of this.

Talking a lot about the investigation that is ongoing. Race car driver being cooperative, still many more questions to be answered by way of public safety I think, so we will continue to follow this story. Our Sean Callebs is there. We'll check in with him a little bit later on.

HARRIS: Concerning Canton Ohio this morning, a woman missing. Jessie Davis is nine months pregnant. She has not been seen in days. Her mother says she went to check on her Friday and found Davis's 2- year-old son home alone.

A police officer says there's foul play involved in the case. According to authorities, a Camden police officer is a father of the 2-year-old and probably the father of the baby that Davis is carrying. That officer is married to another woman Police stress that neither the officer nor the wife are suspects.

COLLINS: Disastrous deluge, several Ft. Worth homes hit by a flash flood. A developing story, incredible pictures -- we are following it in the NEWSROOM.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And I'm Ali Velshi at the New York Stock Exchange. Choosing which high-definition DVD format to buy can get to be a tricky task, but Blockbuster has made that decision, at least for some of you. I'll have the details on that coming up. You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.


HARRIS: A dangerous severe weather situation in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. Overnight torrential rains brought flash flooding. Two mobile home parks in Haltom City overrun -- some families forced to the roofs of their homes just to escape the high water.

A 4-year-old girl was swept from her mother's arms. Her body was found this morning. Haltom City had between four and five inches just within one hour. There are reports of some areas getting as much as 20 inches over the weekend. Flooding also forced parts of Interstate 35 at the Oklahoma/Texas state line to close.


HARRIS: Stacking the deck -- A plan to break the bank, but instead it was the FBI that hit the jackpot. That story straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

And who's the titan of tiles. Mahjong masters faceoff in a million-dollar tourney. What was the big sigh for, Heidi?

COLLINS: Dragon, I love Mahjong.

HARRIS: All right, world series final in the NEWSROOM.


HARRIS: It is a gambler's dream. Beat the house. One group's alleged plan led to a jackpot, for the FBI.

CNN's Kara Finnstrom takes a look.



UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: What, just because you have the greatest cover known to man?


KARA FINNSTROM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Million dollar casino scams.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: The best score you can get is 21. It's called blackjack.


FINNSTROM: The "Ocean's 13" gang may make it look easy, but in real life, the FBI says one of the most sophisticated gangs of card sharks it has ever seen just got caught double dealing.

KATHY LOEDLER, FBI: The FBI characterizes this scheme as probably the largest cheating scheme ever brought by the federal government.

FINNSTROM: Court papers charge the group's ring leader, Phuong Quoc Truong, and his organization with targeting casino after casino, 18 in seven states and Canada. And that their grand scam all hinged on this...

SAUER: Instead of stopping, I'm just going all the way through the cards.

FINNSTROM: The expertly executed false shuffle.

SAUER: I can sit here and do this however many times you wanted. But basically everything remains the same.

FINNSTROM: Jeff Sauer teaches legit card dealers. He says the false shuffle allows a group of cards played before, called a slug, to be dealt again.

SAUER: There are people that practice this for hours on end and they will videotape themselves until they can watch the video and they can't see it on video. I mean they're that good.

FINNSTROM: Investigators say the Truong crime family bribed and trained dealers to be that good.

(on camera): Here's how FBI agents say the scam went down from there. Ring members showed up at baccarat and blackjack tables where the dealers had already been bribed and were in on the scam. They then used cell phones and hidden transmitters to relay the order of the cards to another ring member. That ring member put it all into a computer with card-tracking software and when the slug came up again, the players hit it big.

(voice-over): Agents say that in one big win, ring members scored $868,000, and in all, netted at least $3.3 million. So how did they uncover the scheme? Philip Hogan, chairman of the Indian Casino Gaming Commission, says tribal security tipped off FBI agents.

PHILIP HOGAN, NATL. INDIAN GAMING COMMISSION: They know what they ought to win at a gaming table. If there is a blip on the screen, that is if the theoretical hold doesn't match the actual hold, they will look intensely at what happened.

FINNSTROM (on camera): The FBI's investigation went on for five years. During that time, the Truongs not only kept operating, giving agents more chances to build their case, they also kept spreading their scam across the country. Like most gamblers, the Truong family simply never could walk away from the table.

Kara Finnstrom for CNN, Los Angeles.


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