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Eighty-One-Year-Old Man Survives Nearly A Week Snowbound In Car; U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell Hospitalized After Fall; Ukraine: Russia Targets Energy Facilities In Seven Regions; Ukraine: Russia Targets Energy Facilities In Seven Regions; Putin Pays Tribute To Women In Military On International Women's Day; Wagner Claims Eastern Part Of Bakhmut Under Group's Control. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired March 09, 2023 - 02:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church. Just ahead on CNN NEWSROOM. As California prepares for the Pineapple Express, a story of survival. An 81-year- old man trapped for nearly a week in a snowdrift with just croissants and candy has now been rescued. I'll speak with his grandson.

Heavy rounds of Russian shelling targets energy facilities and at least seven regions across Ukraine, cutting power and killing at least six people. We will have the entire report.

Plus, the skies getting even more unfriendly. Why punches flew on this Southwest flight.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center. This is CNN NEWSROOM with Rosemary Church.

CHURCH: Thanks for being with us. And we begin in California where the governor just declared a state of emergency and 21 more counties. That's 34 in total as a new round of storms move in. Authorities urged residents to get ready and be prepared for heavy rain and possible flooding over the coming hours. There are currently more than 17 million people under flood alerts across much of central and northern California as well as parts of Nevada.

Along with the heavy rain, the higher elevations are expected to be hit with even more heavy snow, just as they're still trying to dig out from earlier storms. Officials warn residents the rain combined with snow could overwhelm some communities and their warning of possible roof collapses. CNN Meteorologist Derek Van Dam explains why.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, if you're anything like me, you have maybe fond childhood memories of playing outdoors during a winter storm with that light, fluffy snow. We know that sometimes those storms come in on the mild side and we get a denser snowpack. So, it's easier to make a snow ball or a snowman, for instance. But sometimes there's so much moisture associated with these winter storms that they actually pose a threat to structures and homes.

And I bring that up because that's exactly what the National Weather Service out of California is warning some of its residents for the upcoming weekend with this latest atmospheric river event that's about to take place. Did you know that 12 inches of snow and a typical sized-home, wet snow we're talking about is equivalent to having three pickup trucks on top of your roof? Let's say you double that snowpack.

We're talking 24 inches of heavy wet snowfall and you're talking about nearly 40,000 pounds of pressure on top of your house. No wonder there's the risk of structural collapse with this heavy wet snowfall. We just have to investigate the origins of where this moisture is coming from. We call it the Pineapple Express because it originates near Hawaii. It's pulling in a lot of deep tropical moisture.

And that means that this will be a mild storm as it unleashes this kind of firehose of water and heavy wet snowfall and the higher elevations. Weather Prediction Center picking up on that level three of four, what you see that shading of red, Sacramento to San Francisco, notice that like a very small suddenly shift in that moderate risk of flash flooding for the day on Friday. So, keep that in mind.

Malibu northward. Now this is how much rain we anticipate. Three to six inches for the most part. There will be the heavy wet snowfall that will be measured in feet especially across the Sierra Nevada crust. But you have heavy wet snow on top of what's already fallen. And that is why we have the potential for rapid snow melt, flash flooding, landslides and mudslides. Can't forget about the potential of 70-mile an hour wind gusts on top of that for the highest elevations.

Here's a quick look at the latest winter weather alerts blankly in the western U.S. Back to you.

CHURCH: Some good news out of California, an 81-year-old man survived nearly a week trapped inside his car with only a handful of suppliers to keep them alive amid the snow storms. Jerry Jouret was trying to make the journey from his mountain home in California to the family residents in Nevada but didn't beat the winter weather. After his car got stuck in a snowbank, he lived off snacks and snow until police found him.

His car battery died partway through the week leaving only a light quilt and hotel bath towel to keep him warm.

Joining me now is Jerry Jouret's grandson, Christian Jouret. Thank you so much for talking with us.

CHRISTIAN JOURET, GRANDSON OF JERRY JOURET: No problem at all. Thank you for having me on.

CHURCH: So, what an extraordinary story of survival.


Your 81-year-old grandfather living on croissants and candy for nearly a week while stuck in the snow. How is he doing right now?

JOURET: Better than anybody could have expected. He's doing actually really, really well. You know, I called him in the hospital the day he was rescued. And, you know, he was let -- he was released within a few hours to go back home. He was at his incredible health, you know, the vitals were looking great. I think he was just mildly dehydrated. And that was it. Other than that, he's, you know, I spoke to him on the phone, I think -- I think it was yesterday.

And he's back with my grandma. And he's doing -- he's doing great. You know, they -- they've been -- six years and I'm glad they're back together.

CHURCH: What a medical miracle he is. So, what happened? How did he end up being stuck in the snow in his car?

JOURET: From what I heard is he didn't think the storm was going to be as bad as it was. And he had checked the Caltrans' Web site to see if the roads were clear, and you know, gave him the green light. But as he left about 30 minutes from the house, I believe he slipped off the road and got stuck on the side. And that's when the blizzard hit. And that's pretty much how it happened.

CHURCH: Wow. And so, he was there for just under a week and he survived on the candy, the croissants and I think the Scottie biscuits, right? So, how was he eventually rescued?

JOURET: Well, you know, the search team was supposed to go out days prior, but the weather was so awful. They couldn't get a helicopter in there. And, you know, days were going by where they couldn't get to him. And finally, you know, I prayed about it hard and pray that the weather would change. And the next day was the most beautiful day we've had in weeks. And they were able to get a helicopter out there and rescue him.

And it was too bad they couldn't -- they couldn't land the helicopter, so they had to hoist them up in the air.

CHURCH: Amazing. And what is he saying about that experience and the whole experience?

JOURET: You know, he -- he's an Air Force veteran. He's worked on an Air Force base for many, many years including NASA and a lot of things. But he had never ridden a helicopter before and he was quite do it and I think the pilots had said he was smiling the whole way to the hospital.

CHURCH: What an extraordinary week it has been for him. Christian Jouret, thank you so much for talking with us about your grandfather's experience. And we're so happy that he is well now and doing incredibly well after this.

JOURET: Absolutely. CHURCH: U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is in the hospital. A spokesman says the 81-year-old tripped and fell at a private dinner in a Washington Hotel on Wednesday night. McConnell has represented Kentucky in the Senate since 1985.

California Governor Gavin Newsom has tested positive for COVID 19. His deputy communications director says Newsom is experiencing mild symptoms. The Democrat will work remotely and self-isolate.

We are following developments in Ukraine were official say new Russian attacks have targeted energy facilities in at least seven regions. In Kyiv, at least two people have been killed and power has been knocked out to around 15 percent of the city after two missiles strikes there. New images show smoke rising from the aftermath of one strike on the capital.

Meantime in the east in the battered city of Bakhmut, the head of the Russian mercenary group says Wagner has now taken all of Eastern Bakhmut as the Ukrainian military acknowledges Russian forces are still advancing. This as NATO Secretary General says he can't rule out that Bakhmut may eventually fall in the coming days.

And CNN's Salma Abdelaziz is following developments for us. She joins us live from London. Good morning to you, Salma. So, what more are you learning about today's Russian missile strikes across parts of Ukraine?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, people across Ukraine today waking up to yet another barrage of Russian missiles striking seven different regions, Rosemary. Officials there in Ukraine telling us that they're attacking energy facilities, that energy facilities have been struck leaving Kyiv, the capital 15 percent of it without electricity, without power. But also, residential areas are being struck as well.

We understand in Kyiv alone, there has been several deaths. And I have to point out that one of the areas that's been struck is Lviv. That is very significant, Rosemary. That's all the way in the west near the border with pull into place. It's absolutely considered a safe haven. A safe space, it's a place actually where displaced families have been sheltering, have been staying thinking that that's an area where they are safe.


We're hearing now from Ukrainian officials that at least four people have been killed this morning after a residential area in that city of Lviv all the way in the west of the country, again, was struck. Now, again, this just happened in the early hours of this morning, this barrage of missiles around 630 this morning, local time. So, we're still gathering information on what's taking place.

But we already have these images that you're playing out for our viewers to see of the plumes of smoke looming over the capital Kyiv. The other sounds that you here, they are of exclusion. So, a really terrifying morning for residents. And we have had some relative quiet, if you will, particularly when it comes to the capital Kyiv. And of course, Lviv all the way in the west of the country in the last days and weeks.

So, this is significant. But it also was a continuation of a strategy we've seen up from the Kremlin which is first, of course, to target energy facilities that's happened time and time again, trying to leave people in cities and towns across the country far from the front lines without electricity, without running water, without power, essentially increasing the cost of this conflict. But we're going to stay tuned and continue to try to provide you with more updates as this plays out on the ground, Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right. Salma Abdelaziz joining us live from London. Many thanks.

Breaking news now. Lawmakers in Tbilisi, Georgia are withdrawing a controversial foreign agents bill, it sparked days of protests. That is according to a tweet from the European Union welcoming the decision. The measure would have forced groups like charities and news organizations to register with the government if more than 20 percent of their funding came from overseas.

Protesters compared it to the law Russia uses to stifle the freedom of press and expression. Police used water cannon and tear gas to try to clear the tens of thousands of protesters. Dozens of people have been arrested.

A top U.S. aviation official faces a grilling over a string of safety incidents. You will see the latest incident of flying not so friendly skies and hear his response to it. That's just ahead.

Plus, a final homecoming for two Americans killed after being kidnapped in Mexico. We will have the latest on the investigation into their deaths and how the survivors are faring.



CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Another incident of violence on a U.S. airline flight has been caught on camera.

The footage shows passengers trying to separate two men who got into a fistfight on a Southwest Airlines plane in Dallas. It happened while they were boarding a flight for Phoenix on Monday. Witnesses say both men left the plane before takeoff. Police responded to the incident but no one was arrested. The footage also shows a man who threw the first punch telling other passengers why he did it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll tell you what happened. I'll tell everybody what happened. He approached me aggressively, with my family. I don't play with my family. Tell them what happened. Tell them what you did. I will sit down in jail for you approaching my family. I will die for my family. So that's why I beat your (BLEEP) (END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: The acting Federal Aviation chair faced a grilling on Capitol Hill on Wednesday over encounters like that and other safety concerns. The FAA received reports of more than 2300 incidents involving unruly passengers last year. On top of that, there have been six near collisions between passenger planes on the nation's runway so far this year. Acting Administrator Billy Nolan told reporters the agency will use every means at its disposal to crack down on unruly passengers.

He says the agency is looking into the runway close calls but he says safety is always a work in progress.


BILLY NOLAN, ACTING FAA ADMINISTRATOR: Safety is always a journey. We are never going to declare victory. And if there's something to learn, we're going to look for ways and opportunities to learn it.


CHURCH: Nolan also says the FAA will ask hard questions about the runway near collisions at a meeting next week.

The CEO of the embattled railway in Norfolk Southern will be grilled by U.S. senators on Thursday. His testimony will follow the company's two freight train derailments in Ohio that took place in the span of a little over a month. That includes this incident in East Palestine in early February where chemicals were released and residents fear long- term toxic contamination.

CEO Alan Shaw wrote in The Washington Post on Wednesday, the Norfolk Southern is firmly committed to helping the affected communities.

And other railway companies as there's no danger to the public after a separate derailment in West Virginia on Wednesday. A freight train owned by CSX hit a rock slide before jumping the tracks. Three crew members were injured, at least one locomotive caught fire and fell into a nearby river spilling fuel and oil. CSX says it will deploy containment measures. The company also says the train did not carry hazardous materials.

Well, in the coming hours the bodies of two Americans killed in Mexico will arrive in Texas for a second autopsy. Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown were half of a group kidnapped at gunpoint in northeastern Mexico last week while traveling with a friend to get a medical procedure. CNN's Rosa Flores breaks down what happened next.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Two of four Americans kidnapped in Mexico seen in this disturbing video are now in the U.S. and preparing to return home.

LaTavia Washington McGee, a mother of six heading to South Carolina today according to her family who spoke to her by phone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All I did was say hey and told her I missed her. FLORES: The other survivor Eric Williams remains in Brownsville, Texas undergoing treatment for three gunshot wounds to his leg. For now, one person has been detained linked to the kidnappings. A 24-year-old male who Mexican authorities said was watching the victims.


Mexican officials would not confirm whether he is linked to a criminal organization.

The U.S. is now working to bring home the remains of Zindell Brown and Shaeed Woodard. The two people found dead after the kidnapping in the Mexico border city of Matamoros. Their autopsies were completed today.

Mexican authorities say they are still investigating what happened after the four Americans crossed the border from Brownsville, Texas. We do know the group was driving a rented minivan and got lost in route to a clinic where McGee had a medical appointment according to a close friend.

FLORES (on camera): We just left the hotel where the Americans stayed. And it's about an 11-minute drive to the international bridge where Mexican authorities say that the Americans crossed into Matamoros at about 9:18 a.m. on Friday.

FLORES (voice over): McGee's mother says she spoke to her daughter about the kidnapping.

BARBARA BURGESS, MOTHER OF WOMAN KIDNAPPED IN MEXICO: A van came up and hit them, and that's when they started shooting at the car. The others tried to run and they got shot at the same time. And she watched them die.

FLORES: The four Americans were ultimately found by Mexican authorities here on Tuesday.

FLORES (on camera): Officials here say that Americans routinely go into Mexico for medical care using ports of entry like the one that you see behind me but officials urge them to go directly to their destination.

FLORES (voice over): According to patients beyond borders, Mexico is the second most popular destination for medical tourism globally, and millions of people travel there each year, expecting to save anywhere from 40 to 60 percent on major medical procedures, including cosmetic surgery.

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, it's risky having any kind of medical procedure done outside of the United States. You run the risk of going to a doctor or facility that is not accredited. You run the risk if there are any disputes over the money that you've been charged, or if the procedure doesn't go well.

FLORES: And there are concerns beyond the medical and legal risks. Officials urge caution when traveling. The U.S. State Department has issued its highest warning, do not travel to several regions in Mexico, including Tamaulipas State where the group was abducted.

MARTIN: You're not only risking your life, but you're also risking the possibility that you may not make it home.


FLORES: According to a source inside Mexico's attorney general's office, telling CNN that the Americans who died will be repatriated on Thursday. They will be crossing over here to Brownsville, Texas where I am. Once on U.S. soil a second autopsy is expected to be performed.

Rosa Flores, CNN, Brownsville, Texas.

CHURCH: Three Los Angeles police officers shot during an investigation are in stable condition. Authorities say they were pursuing a parolee at large who refused to comply with their commands. The suspect shot out the officers who returned fire. The suspect was killed, although police did not say how they died. All three officers were part of the LAPD Canine Unit.

Well, the U.S. Senate has passed a resolution that would block a controversial Washington, D.C. crime bill that Republicans called dangerous and irresponsible. And the U.S. president has said he will not veto the Republican led legislation. The issue divided Senate Democrats and put some who are considered vulnerable on the spot. The Crime Bill was initially vetoed by Washington's mayor who said reducing penalties for robberies, carjackings and home invasion burglaries does not make the district safer, but the city council overrode her veto.

Well, the U.S. Justice Department has issued a damning rebuke of the Louisville Metro Police Department after a long review stemming from the botched raid that killed Breonna Taylor. The U.S. Attorney General says Louisville police routinely discriminated against black people and use racial slurs. The report also found officers use a selectively aggressive style of policing and conducted illegal searches.

Taylor was killed by police who burst into her apartment with a no- knock warrant in 2020. The city agreed to pay $12 million and Institute sweeping reforms to settle the wrongful death lawsuit. The family's attorney says the Justice Department's new report is not enough. And officers should be retro actively held accountable.


TAMIKA PALMER, MOTHER OF BREONNA TAYLOR: It's heartbreaking to know that everything you've been saying from day one has to be said again through this manner, you know it -- that it took this to even have somebody look into this department.


CHURCH: Four officers are facing federal civil rights charges and the Justice Department has forged an agreement with the city of Louisville on police reforms.


CHURCH: And we have a new court filing to tell you about in Dominion Voting System's $1.6 billion lawsuit against Fox News. The company says the right-wing news channel is seeking a First Amendment license to knowingly spread lies. Dominion claims Fox has already conceded it's on-air statements about Dominion rigging the 2020 election were false. The court filing goes on to say and I quote, "If Fox cared about the truth that it now acknowledges, Fox would have its top personalities reporting the truth -- that truth to its audience today,.

If not for Dominion's sake, then for the sake of the significant percentage of Americans who still wrongly believe the 2020 election was stolen, including so many of Fox's own loyal viewers, who heard it over and over again on Fox's airwaves.

Still to come on International Women's Day, Russia's president pays tribute to women in the military as he claims his country is facing direct threats.



CHURCH: Officials in Ukraine reporting a new wave of Russian strikes in at least seven regions across the country. The target Ukrainian energy facilities. In Kyiv, at least two people have been killed and power has been knocked out to around 15 percent of the city after two missile strikes there. And when our learning at least four people have been killed up restrike on the Western Ukrainian city of Lviv. Countries around the world paused on Wednesday to mark International Women's Day, including Russia, where President Vladimir Putin paid tribute to women in the military. There are praise coming as he claims Russia faces direct threats to its security. And as Russian forces face a fierce battle on the front lines in eastern Ukraine. CNN's Fred Pleitgen has our report.


FREDERICK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): While the Russian army continues its devastating assault on Ukraine, with losses on both sides mounting. It's all hearts and flowers in Moscow, Russia celebrating International Women's Day. Many of the women willing to speak to us saying, they would make the ultimate sacrifice sending their boys to fight.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): If there's no other way. Yes, I would send my son and go myself if declared fit.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We collect money for drones, do what we can. And we want our boys to win.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I support President Putin. He does everything right, good man. We love him.

PLEITGEN (voiceover): And the Russian president is publicly trying to show his love for Russia's women, handing out medals and warning more sacrifices will be necessary.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Now that Russia is again facing direct threats to its security and sovereignty. We see many examples of bravery and determination, courage, a willingness to defend the truth protect people and the very future of our state itself. The future that we ourselves need.

PLEITGEN (voiceover): On the front lines, the going remains tough. The Ukrainians say they've killed scores of Russians in the past day alone around the embattled city Bakhmut. That's where the Wagner of private military company is unleashing its cannons on Ukraine's defenses. Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin talking to his own mercenaries about what he says is a lack of ammo hindering further advances.

YEVGENY PRIGOZHIN, WAGNER PRIVATE MILITARY COMPANY (through translator): How are you managing now, when you are almost using more ammunition than you receive?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The guys are from another regiment help us out. They brought a day worth of ammunition. Only that save the day. When we have more, we have them out.

PLEITGEN (voiceover): Percussion claims Wagner is now in control of all of Eastern Bakhmut and claims Russia's true power will soon be unleashed.

PRIGOZHIN (through translator): The world is yet to face a fully prepared Russian army with units not yet engaged in combat. With all the possible state-of-the-art, weapons and reconnaissance tools, perfectly trained, they're biding their time until Wagner opens the operational space for them after Bakhmut.

PLEITGEN (voiceover): But the Ukrainian say they will stand and fight in Bakhmut. And many more Russian women might find their husbands and sons go into battle as the war drags on.


CHURCH: An Indonesian court hands down a verdict after one of the deadliest incidents at a football stadium, who's been found responsible for a stampede that left dozens of people dead. We'll have a live report.



CHURCH: An Indonesian football club official has been sentenced to jail time over last year's deadly stampede by fans at a stadium. More than 130 people were killed in the crash, after police sprayed tear gas during this match last October. The chairman of the Organizing Committee of the Arena Football Club and other officials were put on trial for negligence. Anna Coren is monitoring the trial. She joins us now live from Hong Kong. Good to see you, Anna. So, what is the latest on this? ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rosemary, we've just learned the verdict for the second civilian of this trial that being the head of the security of Arena F.C. He has been sentenced to just one year. That is an even lighter sentence and the chairman of arena football who was sentenced a few hours ago to one year and six months. Now, the prosecutor he was after, you know, more than six years but for both of these men, but the judge and handing down the sentences to certainly to the chairman. He said that he had helped ease the burden of the victim's families, we understand that he'd made a sizable donation.

But as far as the community is concerned, their anger is very much directed at the police, and we will learn about their verdicts Rosemary, in the coming weeks. Looking at that footage from October 1st, last year, it was a scene that got completely out of control, when police started firing tear gas to dispel this crowd. Thousands of people and there were women, children's families who would come to watch their football side Arena F.C. play a neighboring team. They then race for the exits, and we understand Rosemary, that these exits were locked. This is the worst football disaster in history. 135 people were killed more than 300 injured.


But like I said, the anger very much directed at the police. There is a -- there is a sense that there was a complete overreaction by police. The opposing team's fans who live a hundred kilometers away, they weren't even allowed to attend this football match because of the fanaticism because of a football violence. So, it was only the fans of the -- of the home team Arena F.C. that were on the football grounds. But still this violence, you know, unleashed and 135 people died. Rosemary.

CHURCH: A shocking number of deaths there. Anna Coren, joining us live from Hong Kong. Many thanks and I'm Rosemary Church, for our international viewers, "WORLD SPORT" is next. For those of you here in North America, I'll be back with more CNN NEWSROOM in just a moment. Do stay with us.