Return to Transcripts main page

American Morning

New Information on What Caused Vintage Sea Plane Crash;

Aired December 21, 2005 - 09:33   ET


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: There's new information this morning on what caused that vintage sea plane crash in Miami. Just about an hour ago investigators said, as you probably heard right here on the air, that they found a crack in the main part of the right wing. That's the wing that broke off in flight and sent the plane tumbling into the ocean.

MARK ROSENKER, ACTING CHAIRMAN, NTSB: The examination of the wing root has found indications of a fatigue crack in the wing spar (ph). This crack appears to extend through a majority of this spar, at the location of the separation.


SANCHEZ: That's metal fatigue that we've been talking about this morning. In fact, AMERICAN MORNING's Dan Lothian was the first to tell us this. He's joining us again from Miami.

Good morning, Dan.


Well, that will certainly be the focus as the NTSB continues the investigation. Meantime, for the family members of the victims, they wait for answers and an island grieves.


LOTHIAN (voice-over): On the small island of Bimini, it seems everyone is family, whether they are relayed to each other or not.

CLETUS SMITH, LOST FATHER IN CRASH: It's only seven miles long, by a half mile wide. And from one end to the next we know even. You can go door to door and you can actually get a meal from everybody. That's how close-knit we are.

LOTHIAN: But for Cletus Smith, this tragedy is even more personal. He lost his father, Donald, a longtime dock master at a Bimini fishing marina, and he lost his young nephew.

SMITH: We just pull together, and we just hold on each other inside there, because we, together, we will get through it.

LOTHIAN: Leonard Stuart's family was decimated.

LEONARD STUART, LOST FAMILY MEMBERS IN CRASH: I was praying that they would survive. Really, really devastating for the family.

LOTHIAN: He lost 11 family members, including cousin Sala Mae Roll (ph) and Genevieve Ellis (ph.

STUART: I've been through tragedies and (INAUDIBLE), I think I'm a little strong at this stage. I'll probably break down probably as we get near to the funeral time.

LOTHIAN: Twenty people were traveling from Miami to the Bahamas on the vintage seaplane when it went down in the waters off Miami Beach on Monday. Smith says he has no desire to visit the crash site.

SMITH: It's just too harsh. Seeing the plane go down, it's just hard enough.

LOTHIAN: Relatives, some local, others from overseas, have been arriving in Miami to eventually claim the bodies and meet with investigators. The Red Cross, on the scene, too, offering counseling and assistance.


LOTHIAN: Investigators hope to have the fuselage up and then take it away to be analyzed sometime today. In addition they will be taking a look at the videotape taken by tourists and also the voice recorder that they hope to recover from the plane -- Rick.

SANCHEZ: Dan Lothian following that story from Miami. We thank you, Dan.

Soledad, over to you.


To Pennsylvania now, a serious setback for supporters of intelligent design. A federal judge blasted the local school board that made it mandatory, ruling that intelligent design does not have to be taught.

Faith and values correspondent Delia Gallagher is covering that story for us.


DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN FAITH AND VALUES CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For some in the small town of Dover, Pennsylvania, the judge's harsh wording came as a surprise. In his ruling, Judge Jones said, "The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the board who voted fo the ID policy. It is ironic that several of these individuals who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover up tracks and disguise the real purpose of behind the ID policy."

The real purpose, the judge said, was to promote religion in the classroom. Last year the school board, whose members then were mostly conservative Christians, voted to restate ninth grade science students that said, "Because Darwin's theory is a theory it continues to be tested as new evidence is discovered The theory is not a fact." Several Dover parents sued because they felt the school board policy was a veiled attempt to teach religion in the public classroom. Today, those parents feel vindicated.

TAMMY KITZMILLER, PARENT, PLAINTIFF: Knowing that 11 ordinary citizens stepped forward and made a difference, it's just a great feeling. ID is not science. Intelligent design is about religion, and this ruling makes it very clear.

GALLAGHER: Attorneys representing the school board said the decision was troubling.

RICHARD THOMPSON, THOMAS MOORE LAW CENTER: This is censorship. This is not education. It's indoctrination.

GALLAGHER: Some parents agree.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not very happy. I don't understand why they can teach evolution, but they can't just read a statement that says there are other ideas of the creation of the earth. I just think it's limiting the children.

GALLAGHER: The case deeply divided the rural Pennsylvania community, and in November, most members of the pro-intelligent design school board lost reelection. The newly elected board has said it would abide by the federal court decision, and at least one parent said the decision should be a warning for the rest of the country.

ARALENE CALLAHAN, PLAINTIFF: Watch what is happening in the school districts. What kind of decisions the people you're electing are making and try to stop it before it gets to this level.


GALLAGHER: Now the judge's decision in this case is binding only for the Dover area school district. However, certainly his decision that intelligent design is not a science will have a reverberation around the country.

O'BRIEN: What do you think the implications of that could be for the rest of the nation?

GALLAGHER: Well, in the first instance, legally, this sets a precedent. This is the first time intelligent design has been heard in the courts. So you have a legal precedent for any further cases going to courts. There are no such cases at the moment. However, for example, in Georgia and Kansas, there are many states around the country that are dealing with the question of evolution and how to teach evolution. Certainly if you're a ninth-grade biology teacher in high school you're thinking of this. How do I present this to my -- to the class. So I think in many levels around the country, people are thinking about this.

O'BRIEN: Yes, we certainly heard her say watch what everybody is doing, the school boards. GALLAGHER: Parents, parents, are very concerned. What's going on in the schools?

O'BRIEN: I'd hate to have it get to a lawsuit, which I'm sure was costly for all sides in this.

Delia Gallagher. Thanks, Delia.

O'BRIEN: Thank you.

Let's get right back to Rick.

SANCHEZ: Soledad, there's a developing story that we're following now out of California, and anybody who happens to be traveling through the Interstate 405 out there is seeing just this. In fact, they've had to shut down part of the interstate because of this massive fire that's burning out there.

This sounds extremely unorthodox, but here's what's going on: Police went and found after getting a tip some 70 sticks of dynamite in the building. In order to get rid of the dynamite they decided to set a fire to this warehouse, thereby getting rid of the dynamite.

Now Rick Dickard (ph) is a chopper reporter out there who's been following this story. He's at KTTV, and we've been monitoring some of his reports on this, and we're going to be trying to get an update by listening to what he's saying right now.

We do have what amounts to an explanation from authorities on why they did this, because it does seem somewhat unorthodox police would burn a building with evidence in it to try to get rid of the evidence, and to do so, so fast. Remember, the tip apparently came last night. Authorities are telling us they decided to burn it because they determined it was too old and too unstable to safely remove. Now, that's according to Los Angeles Police Lieutenant Paul Vernon.

Throughout the day, television crews have been taking shots of this. As you can see, this is in an area of Van Nuys, California. It's strange enough, and one of the stories we're curious about, and we'll hopefully try and make some phone calls and get more information. And as we do, we'll be sharing it with you.

O'BRIEN: Some indication that maybe that it was unstable dynamite, meaning that you wouldn't want to move it so it could explode, and so the only alternative was to blow it up or burn it where it was, which was inside the warehouse. But as you mentioned, boy, a lot of questions raised. We're going to get more on this story as soon as we can.

SANCHEZ: Does seem a little unorthodox.

Still to come you can find anything on eBay. Almost, anything. Ahead, how angry eBay users pressured the company to scrap a brand-new service.

Also, a trend in cosmetic surgery that some critics say is a form of racism.

Stay with us on AMERICAN MORNING.


O'BRIEN: Got a couple of developing stories that we're following this morning. First, this one. It's coming to us from Temple Hills, Maryland. Take a look. You see the school bus there. That school bus was involved in a crash, 22 children onboard and the driver. Apparently the car, the passengers vehicle that rear-ended the bus has had a death, a driver. We're getting reports the driver side at the scene. Inside the passenger car that rear-ended the bus. See a truck in front of the bus. It looks like there was some kind of chain reaction. Seems like the work truck was rear ended by the bus, and then the car rear ended the bus itself. At least one fatality to report.

All the children, though, 22 onboard, are OK. They're not hurt, but they're going to be transported to area hospitals anyway. This happened on the capital beltway this morning, and we're getting these pictures from our affiliate WTTG coming to us. You can see, obviously, fire officials are still on the scene.

SANCHEZ: Here's another developing story that we're following for you. This one's coming out of Miami. For the first time, we're able to see the actual fuselage of that Chalk's Airways plane that had gone down there on that inlet called Government Cut, just between Miami and Miami Beach.

And the headline on the story right now is that investigators are now saying that they have found a slight stress fracture in the area where the plane's wing was, and they've also confirmed prior to that, that the wing did in fact fall off the plane, which would probably cause the plane immediately to go down.

So those are the new pieces of information that we can share with you. This according to Mark Rosenker, acting chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, saying that there was indeed some kind of stress fracture on the metal itself -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Update on business news this morning. Just how is the financial heart of America, Wall Street, dealing with the transit strike?

ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Well, they're dealing with it, Soledad. You had sock trading yesterday, and we have stock trading today, and we'll probably have stock trading tomorrow. It's almost a certainty. We're up 61 points for the Dow this morning, which is a real good showing, getting toward 10,900. We were down four days in a row before this big news this morning. How fast did the economy grow in the third quarter? The final read on that 4.1 percent, slightly down from the last read, 4.3 percent, but still the best showing in one-and-a-half years. That's a nice pace, 4.1 percent.

I want to shift gears here a little bit and talk about eBay. Always interesting stuff coming out of that company. They have dropped plans to allow for the sale of live pets. Interesting stuff here. They were going to allow the sale of cats and dogs on eBay. Cats and dogs. But apparently pet owners were concerned about so called puppy mills, where people were just breeding puppies to sell them online. I thought it would be a good idea because it would help the sale of animals in shelters, but there's some controversy there.

O'BRIEN: Yes, I guess they say you can't distinguish between what's reputable and what's not really on line. And then you have people doing unscrupulous things with little animals. That would be terrible.

SERWER: That's the thing.

O'BRIEN: All right, Andy, thank you for the update.

Ahead this morning, a look at this story: Asian women who are going under the knife to make their eyes rounder.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This surgery is to Asians what breast augmentations are to mainland Americans.


O'BRIEN: Some folks think, though, that this surgery is a form of racism.

Stay with us. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING.


O'BRIEN: Eye surgery for Asians in this country is becoming more and more popular. AMERICAN MORNING's Alina Cho joins us this morning to talk about that. Pretty controversial surgery, too. Good morning.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. Yes, it is. And there's tremendous pressure among Asian women to get this surgery. After all, in this Asian community, women with big eyes are considered to be the most beautiful.

So we followed a young woman, a 22-year-old Annie Cheng from her home right into the operating room to see what eyelid surgery is all about and why people get it.


CHO (voice-over): Annie's features are typically Asian. Her eyelids are very small, almost nonexistent, and that makes her eyes look small. But all of that is about to change.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that's very unique to Asians.

CHO: Soon she'll undergo surgery to make the folds or creases in her eyes bigger, to create what's known in the Asian community as double eyelids. ANNIE CHENG, PLASTIC SURGERY PATIENT: In general, I think double eyelids makes you look prettier and make your eyes look bigger.

CHO: The man who will perform this surgery is Dr. Charles Lee.

DR. CHARLES LEE, PLASTIC SURGEON: Well, this surgery is to Asians what breast augmentations are to mainland Americans.

CHO: To better understand, we had Dr. Lee take a look at my face.

(on camera): First of all, I guess tell me how my features differ from Caucasian features.

LEE: Sure. The most common or most obvious thing is the upper eyelid. What I would recommend for your eyes is put -- bury some stitches and set your crease slightly higher and then relax your brow down. Set your crease a little bit higher so that you look -- your eyes look brighter.

CHO (voice-over):

By brighter, he means bigger, which is exactly what Annie wants. She wants to look a little like the Asian actresses she sees on TV and on the Internet.

CHO: You notice the big eyes.

CHENG: Yes. I actually really pay attention to that part because whenever I see a big eye woman I just feel, oh, she's really pretty.

CHO: Back at Dr. Lee's office, Annie is now getting prepped for surgery. The surgery takes about 30 minutes. Basically, Dr. Lee is using stitches to force the skin to fold, creating a new, bigger eyelid and in turn, a bigger eye.

LEE: When we finish this operation, she's still going to look Asian and she'll be grateful that I kept her looking Asian.

CHO: Eyelid surgery was introduced in the 1950s after the Korean War, when women wanted to look more Caucasian to impress American GIs. Critics of the surgery say Asian women who alter eyelids are turning their back on their ethnic identity. Dr. Lee says that's impossible.

LEE: No one is going to mistake them for being Caucasian or African-American. They look Asian. So what we're trying to do is preserve ethnicity.

CHO: Two weeks after the surgery, we're back to see Annie again. The first thing we notice, besides her appearance, is that she's happy and confident. Her eyelids are clearly bigger. And with her new eyes, she's doing things she couldn't before, like experiment with makeup.

CHENG: But now you can see two colors. I can even put three colors if I want.

CHO: Annie says she's still the same person she was before the surgery.

CHENG: I still look Asian but with the eyes now -- bigger eyes now -- I just feel I look better.


CHO: To give you an idea of just how popular this is, in Korea, eyelid surgery is as common as braces are in the United States. Even the current president of South Korea has done it. And it's especially popular around the holidays, Soledad, because many of the patients are on vacation, you know, holiday vacation and they're getting this as a holiday gift from their parents, if you can believe it.

O'BRIEN: Wow, God, as popular as braces!

CHO: It is.

O'BRIEN: So what do you think when a doctor looks at you and says, well, you know, I would put some stitches here and give you a bigger eyelid.

CHO: Well, it's a little depressing, you know. You can improve your appearance with plastic surgery. But, you know, I was a little tempted. You know, you look at your eye, it does look a little bit bigger. Even though there's tremendous societal pressure in the Asian community to have this done, you know, I grew up in a family that was very anti-plastic surgery and still is very anti-plastic surgery. And so I never felt that pressure growing up. But, again, plastic surgery is always going to be an individual choice, you know, whether you're Asian or not.

O'BRIEN: Wow, gosh. That's a great story. Interesting story. Alina, thanks -- Rick.

SANCHEZ: All right, thanks so much. CNN's LIVE TODAY is coming up next and Daryn is standing by now to let us know what she is working on. How are you, Daryn?

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm doing great, Rick.

We have a lot of news coming out of Washington, D.C. in the next hour. And we will get to it. Actually we'll do that. A lot of things happening on Capitol Hill. A lot of breaking news happening as well. And we'll get to that at the top of the hour.

For now, back to you.

SANCHEZ: A lot of stories on this day. Thanks so much. By the way, love the flowers behind you.

KAGAN: Would you believe me if I told you they're real?

SANCHEZ: I would, as a matter of fact. Because I know everything about you is real.

KAGAN: Yes, and we got swampland in for Florida for you, as well.

SANCHEZ: Thanks so much.

KAGAN: All right. Great.


SANCHEZ: There's this fire that we're following in Van Nuys, California, and we think it's particularly newsworthy because this fire was set intentionally by the police after they found some dynamite in the building.

To get more on this, whether it's unorthodox or not for police to be doing something like this, let's go over to Jim Roope. He's a CNN radio reporter who's good enough to join us now. Jim, why not just take the dynamite out of there? Or why wait or why not wait?

JIM ROOPE, CNN RADIO: Well, the dynamite is very volatile. It's very old and it's degraded to the point where it is crystallizing. So trying to move the dynamite could cause an explosive. You're talking 50 pounds of dynamite. That's a heck of a bang. So they decided what they would do is just prepare the building to contain the fire, douse the dynamite with diesel fuel and set it on fire. Because fire won't cause dynamite to explode. There has to be some sort of impact.

SANCHEZ: Interesting. Thanks so much for that explanation. Jim Roope, CNN Radio, bringing us up to date on that. And I hope the area around there has been secured so no other buildings are injured -- or possibly damaged.

O'BRIEN: Yes, pretty dramatic pictures. It's certainly something that Daryn Kagan is going to be following for you and updating for you throughout the morning. Let's get right to Daryn. She's going to take you through the next couple of hours on CNN LIVE TODAY.