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CNN Sunday Morning

Tracking Tropical Storm Gabrielle; Dramatic Rescue of an Elderly Woman

Aired September 09, 2007 - 09:00   ET


T.J. HOLMES: This is Sunday, September 9th. Good morning to you all. From the CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia, I'm T.J. Holmes.
BETTY NGUYEN: Yes, good morning, everybody. I'm Betty Nguyen.

Folks along the Eastern Seaboard waking up to Tropical Storm Gabrielle. We are live in Cape Hatteras and Atlantic Beach.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know how he got across the street or whatever, but I'm so happy that we found him. I can't believe that. I can't.


HOLMES: A teenager missing for more than a week is found by the side of a road after his car flips into a ravine. We will have his amazing survival story.

Also, we have this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I said, ma'am, you got to get out of this vehicle, and I opened the door for her because she didn't have any idea what was going on. And I unclipped her seat belt and pulled her out, and seconds later the car was struck by the train.


NGUYEN: Talk about a survival story. A car and train on a collision course. We're going to tell you about an elderly woman's dramatic rescue.

But first, Tropical Storm Gabrielle on track to make landfall just a few hours from now. That storm making its move on the North Carolina coast. You're looking at a live picture right now of Surf City there on Topsail Island in North Carolina. CNN is your severe weather headquarters.

HOLMES: And meteorologist Reynolds Wolf is standing by. He's going to be talking to us in just a moment. He's had the sleeves rolled up all morning. He's certainly going at it over there. But also, we've got some other hard-working folks live in North Carolina. Rob Marciano, John Zarrella, they're live right now in North Carolina. Rob Marciano in Cape Hatteras. We will start there. Good morning to you, Rob -- how are things?

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, T.J. Well actually, the sun is out right now. Last night we had some outer bands come through, some heavy rain, gusty winds, and some lightning. But the winds have picked up as this system has gotten a little bit better organized. The Outer Banks in North Carolina, Dare County, population of about 29,000 year-round swells this time of year, over 200,000. So quite a bit of vacationers here. There are no mandatory evacuations. But here's what a few vacationers had to say about what their plan of attack today was as Tropical Storm Gabrielle comes on shore.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a week off, and I wasn't about to change my vacation plans. It's not a hurricane yet, so we're here.


MARCIANO: People are not leaving. They're just taking the necessary precautions they need to take to protect their property. Folks are vacationing; we've seen a couple come out on the beaches to check things out. And they're just going to ride out the storm until it happens.

Over my right shoulder, you see the tallest lighthouse in America built over 100 years ago. They actually had to move it back from the beach back in 1999. It's a good thing they did because it would be swimming right now.

Take a look at the dunes that protect this shoreline and the beach and of course the water, waves crashing in. This is a shoreline that is in constant flux. Every storm that rolls off the coast here will change this beach in one way, shape or form, and beach erosion always a concern.

High tide was at 6:30 this morning, so as this storm gets closer and makes landfall, it will be coinciding if anything with low tide. So surge not a terrible issue, but beach erosion certainly will be.

On the other side of the land mass, it will be -- sometimes they get surges in local areas, and that could be at issue. But rainfall, if we do get a couple of inches, it can only help. There's a severe drought in this area. So hopefully doesn't strengthen to a hurricane. That's possible. Water temperatures are warm out there, T.J. and Betty. One thing the National Hurricane Center is always concerned about is storms blowing up as they get closer to shore. We'll see if it happens.

HOLMES: All right, still possible, though. Rob is watching it for us. Rob, we appreciate you. NGUYEN: Well our own John Zarrella is also watching the storm as it rolls in. He is Atlantic Beach this morning. He's going to be joining us live with the latest on what is happening there. John, I see the winds have picked up there a little bit as well.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A little bit, Betty. It's not too bad. We had a little bit of a rain squall move through here a few moments ago. Now the sun is trying to peek out, not doing a very good job of it.

As Rob was saying, there's always the concern that these things can blow up as they move close to the coastline. The difficulty for the hurricane center is always forecasting the intensity of these things. They can get the track right on. They're good about that. But intensity is still a real bug-a-boo for them.

You can see here, a lot of the water, the surf is still crashing up onto the beach there. There's a few people out walking along the beach, but definitely not a good beach day. The storm out in the distance out there, not too far off the coast from us now.

We certainly do expect that we're going to get a lot more rain and a lot more wind out of this. Of course, they need the rain here desperately in the Carolinas. They've been in a real terrible drought. So we're going to keep watching it today, but right now just a steady light rain and a little bit of wind. Betty, T.J.

NGUYEN: All right John, we appreciate that. We will be checking in shortly.

HOLMES: And our Reynolds Wolf, we need to check in with him now, over there like I said going at it, working the computers, working all that sophisticated stuff you've got over there. What do you have for us?


NGUYEN: In the meantime though, a missing Maryland teen has been found alive on the side of the road. It is an amazing survival story. 18-year-old Julian McCormick was missing for a week. He was closer than anyone thought. McCormick was trapped at the bottom of a ravine just 15 miles from his college campus and his family's home. He was stuck in his overturned car with no food or water. Finally he climbed out on his own and was spotted by a passing car.


LEIGH ANN HESS, SPOTTED MISSING TEEN: I said, mom, there's a boy laying on the side of his road. I said what do I do? Call 911. We pulled over and called 911. We turned around, pulled up here, and I didn't know if I should get out of the car or what to do because he was by himself and he was rolling around with his arms up here like this.

I couldn't see exactly what had happened to him, but I knew he had been bleeding. So my mom was on with 911 and I got out of the car and walked up to him to see he was laying there with scratches on his face.

I said are you OK? What happened to you? I got in a car accident. I said hold on, you'll be OK. I ran over to my mom and said get an ambulance, get an ambulance. I ran back over to him and said, you know, how long have you been here? He said is today Friday? I said no, it's Saturday. He said I think I've been here since this morning.


NGUYEN: Well no, not just one day. McCormick was there for a week, and not surprisingly he was dehydrated, but medical officials say he will be OK.

HOLMES: A possible hate crime to tell you about now. It happened at the University of Maryland just outside of Washington, D.C. Campus police are investigating a noose that was found hanging in a tree. Jackie Congedo of affiliate WJLA has the story.


CONNIE ILOH, JUNIOR: It really is upsetting.

JACKIE CONGEDO, WJLA CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): University of Maryland junior Connie Iloh is making sure everything is in place for Telac (ph) Terp weekend kickoff here at the Nymburu Cultural Center on campus, just feet away from where police say a noose was hanging days ago.

AMINA DANIELS, SOPHOMORE: Every time I walk past, I feel a little scared, because I look up and I'm more cautious.

CONGEDO: Students who saw it hanging from this tree say it was there for at least a week before it was taken down on Friday.

ANNE CARSWELL, NYMBURU ASSOC. DIRECTOR: A student informed me on Thursday evening around 5:30 p.m. that they had seen it down the stairwell.

CONGEDO: Nymburu Associate Director Anne Carswell is also the faculty adviser to "The Black Explosion," a student newspaper on campus. She told newspaper staff about it and they notified police who then sent a crime report to the campus community.

MEGAN SENSENBAUGH, SOPHOMORE: I think it's disgusting somebody would do that. This is Maryland. If you can't deal with diversity, don't come to this school, because it's full of diversity.

CONGEDO: Police received this photo of the noose and they believe it to be authentic. Many students we talk to think it's nothing to be concerned about, but Connie hopes everyone on campus taking it seriously.

ILOH: The campus community as a whole can rally behind this to make sure it doesn't happen again.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HOLMES: A statement issued by the University of Maryland denounces the noose for invoking the legacy of lynching. The statement concludes, quote, "The university will do all in its power to investigate this and ensure all members of our campus family know we stand together against any such acts."

NGUYEN: Reverend Jesse Jackson is in Jena, Louisiana today and he's asking people to come together after a racially charged case split the community apart. Now this case came to be known as the Jena 6. They are six African-American high school students who were charged with attempted murder after a school yard beating involving a white student. And yesterday, radio host Michael Baisden told our Tony Harris that the charges are too harsh.


MICHAEL BAISDEN, RADIO HOST: We're here to show that family support. We're here to let the nation and the world know that we stand together not only as black people but as parents, man. This thing is unequal justice for anyone. So anybody out there, the poor, white, Hispanics, Asians, anybody else. We know the system doesn't work and we are not going to allow them to put these six young men in prison for 22 years for anything more than a high school fight. It's not going to happen.


NGUYEN: Last week a judge vacated a conviction against one teen accused in that fight. The district attorney reduced the charges against two of the other teens.

HOLMES: The parents of missing 4-year-old Madeleine McCann are back home in Britain this morning. They arrived about two hours ago. Kate and Gerry McCann left Portugal just days after being officially considered suspects in the disappearance of their daughter. CNN's Adrian Finighan from McCanns home town of Rothley. They just arrived. We saw the pictures not too long ago. Have we heard a peep from them? Do we expect to hear anything from them?

ADRIAN FINIGHAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Nothing at all, T.J. We're not expecting to hear anything from them either. The McCanns are inside and that's where they expect to stay.

As you say, they arrived back a short time ago after that three- hour journey from southern Portugal today after that dramatic development in which they were both named as suspects in the disappearance of their daughter Madeleine, who is now four-years-old, her fourth birthday a couple of weeks ago.

As they arrived at the airport here about 30 minutes' drive away, the East Midlands Airport in Leicester in the U.K., Gerry McCann again denied that he and his wife had anything to do with their daughter's disappearance. Here's what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GERRY MCCANN, SUSPECT: I'm not commenting on the police investigation. Despite there being so much, we wish to say we are unable to do so except to say that we have played no part in the disappearance of our lovely daughter, Madeleine.


FINIGHAN: He went on to say that their return to Britain has the full agreement of the Portuguese authorities, that there are no restrictions on their movement. They are both in possession of their passports and he asked the media to respect their privacy.

Bearing in mind, of course, that the McCanns have throughout this investigation courted the cooperation of the media. Privacy is not something I think at least today they're going to get.

The media was here in full as they arrived a short time ago. The enduring image, I suppose, of the day one of the two twins, Sean and Amelie, the 2-year-olds being carried into the house here sleepy after that long journey looking in bewilderment at the media at the bottom of the garden hedge. T.J.?

HOLMES: Yeah, privacy is not something they're probably going to get here anytime soon. Adrian Finighan for us in the McCanns hometown. Thank you so much.

NGUYEN: Coming up, we're going to be talking about voices from the past. The issue was as black and white as the pictures. Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957, segregation of schools. Two unlikely friends from that time are going to join us this morning. You don't want to miss it. Also this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is wonderful. He should run for president.


HOLMES: Oprah, run for president herself? No. Actually this story is about Oprah Winfrey. She can sell some books, but can she sell a political candidate? We'll take a closer look at a big ticket fund-raiser for Barack Obama.

And, oops, she's about to do it again. No, not shave her head. Britney Spears is returning to her roots on the MTV Video Awards. She's had some pretty serious appearances there with the snake.

NGUYEN: And Madonna.

HOLMES: Yes. Can this fallen pop princess make a comeback? What do you think? E-mail us. Our address is But please, be as nice as you can possibly be with your comments. Stay here. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) NGUYEN: We're going to take you to California now. A star- studded fund-raising bash for presidential candidate Barack Obama. The host, Oprah Winfrey. The guests were thrilled.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just being here is wonderful. Wonderful evening. She should run for president herself.


NGUYEN: Tickets cost $2,300 apiece. A lot of big names did show up, including Sidney Poitier, Forest Whitaker and Cindy Crawford. Now the gala was expected to raise $3 million for the Democratic presidential hopeful.

HOLMES: OK, Oprah Winfrey, when she speaks everybody listens. I'll listen even when the woman speaks. They also read and they log on. According to the "Washington Post" 8.4 million watch her talk show every single day, 2.3 million visit her Web site each month and then you have the magazine and you have her book club and it goes on and on and on.

Oprah Winfrey's fund-raising gala for Obama and actor Fred Thompson officially joining the Republican race. Those are just a couple of the hot topics, hot political topics we're going to talk about now. Joining us from Washington, CNN political editor Mark Preston. Sir, always a pleasure to see you. I think you're fresh off the fund-raiser last night. I'm sure you were invited. So how was the party?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: T.J., I was up very, very late last night. We had a lot of fun over at Oprah's house. All kidding aside, unbelievable, T.J., Oprah Winfrey raises nearly $3 million for Barack Obama. But it's really not about what the money. It's about what can do for him? What part of the electorate can Oprah Winfrey appeal to that could perhaps push votes into Obama's column? It's amazing.

HOLMES: Can she really do that? We know how much people watch, and the group that are watching are women, are voters, are moms. They're voters. Can that group of women who right now and in a lot of polling favor Hillary Clinton, can Oprah actually pull some of those folks away from Hillary Clinton and sway them over to her guy, Obama?

PRESTON: He certainly hopes so. I think she can actually. There's a lot of voters out there, there's a lot of women voters out there that might not like Hillary Clinton, but put the Clintons aside. This is Oprah Winfrey. As you said, 8 million look at her show every single day. She takes authors, makes them into best sellers. She's unbelievable. She really probably is the most popular woman of the 20th century perhaps, certainly within the media circles.

HOLMES: All right. Let's take a swing here to Fred Thompson who is now a candidate officially, even though it seems like he's been running for the past several months. He made us wait all this time for him to get in the race. Now he better bring it. Is he capable now of bringing it and exciting people after making them wait all this time?

PRESTON: Well I'll tell you, his early supporters are hoping that he can bring it now, T.J., no question. Look, he's got a couple of things that he really needs to show very quickly. He needs to show conservatives right now he's their candidate, that he speaks their message, that he has their vision for the future.

You know, another thing that he needs to do is he needs to show that he actually has a vision for the future. Look, he's been toying with the idea about running for president for the past couple of months. Now he needs to show that he has some ideas to put on the table.

HOLMES: Just real quick, what was the point of waiting all this time?

PRESTON: A lot of things. Perhaps in his own head he wasn't sure if he wanted to run. He wanted to test the waters. He really wanted to feel things out. I mean, who knows? But I'll tell you, it's not too late at this point.

HOLMES: All right and it seems like another guy, who a lot of people talk about possibly getting in this race, Chuck Hagel, Nebraska senator, powerful Republican, influential Republican. There was a lot of talk about him getting in the race. But now it appears he's not even going to run for re-election in his seat, he'll retires. What do you make of this?

PRESTON: Well I'll tell you, for Republicans there's a children's book called "Alexander and the Terrible No Good Day, Very Bad Day," something along those lines. That's what is happening with the Republicans today. Chuck Hagel is going to retire, he's going to announce he's going to retire tomorrow. That is another seat that Republicans could potentially pick up if Bob Kerry, a former senator from Nebraska runs for it. This falls on the heels of John Warner of Virginia, another Republican who said he's going to retire, another seat Democrats could pick up. It's not good for Republicans.

HOLMES: And then Larry Craig, of course, whatever is going on with him and his seat. We'll see what happens there as well. Mark Preston, sir, our political editor, always a pleasure to see you. Thank you so much, enjoy the rest of your Sunday.

PRESTON: Thanks.

HOLMES: And of course, CNN is your campaign 2008 headquarters. Coming up on "LATE EDITION," Wolf Blitzer talks with GOP presidential hopeful Mark Huckabee about the race. Looking forward to seeing that, at 11 Eastern, only here on CNN.

NGUYEN: We want to show you now a walk to remember, victims of 9/11 and honor military veterans getting under way in Washington. It is the third annual event and here are some live pictures from that. It's called the National America Supports You Freedom Walk. And that walk begins at the Lincoln Memorial and ends at the Pentagon near the spot where it was hit on September 11th. The walk will be followed by a concert featuring the Harlem gospel choir.

In the meantime, though -

HOLMES: Wind, surf, picking up -- we've been talking about that. Along the Carolina coast, live picture here of Wrightsville Beach where in just a few hours, they're expecting the center of the storm, Gabrielle, to make landfall. Stick around. We're going to be talking about that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The doctor came in and said just said, you have leukemia.


NGUYEN: A very personal mission for this 12-year-old hero. He's helping save lives, and we have his story. That's next.


NGUYEN: We want to introduce you to a young man with a cause. He's this morning's CNN Hero. Pat Pedraja is on a mission and he's getting bone marrow donors for those suffering from cancer. It's a very personal quest. Here's his story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) PATRICK PEDRAJA, CNN HERO: The doctor came in and she said, "You have leukemia."' And it was devastating, horrifying and scary. All I knew about cancer was that both of my grandparents had died from it. Well, I was in the hospital and I was watching the TV. And a Hispanic girl died because she couldn't find a bone marrow transplant match. You are most likely to find a match in your own ethnicity. I'm half Hispanic, and I decided to change it, because it could affect me too. I said, "Mom, I want to do something. Well, let's have a bone marrow drive." And she said, "What?'' I said "Yeah, we're going to go drive for these bone marrow donors." And then it turned into Driving for Donors. Hi. My name is Pat Pedraja. I'm 12-years-old and I'm trying to sign people up to the National Marrow Registry. It's our responsibility as a human being to watch out for someone else. Driving for Donors is a 30-city national marrow drive. We sold advertisement spots on the bus and on the head, and raised close to $100,000. AIRAM DA SILVA: What Patrick is doing is something that comes from inside of him. It is something that is very personal to his heart. My sister died of leukemia because she could not find a match within the Brazilian community. Seventy percent of the case you do not find a match with your brother or sister, and you have to find a match in the national registry. PEDRAJA: If you sign up to the registry, it's just a cheek swab. And you know that you could be the one to save a kid's life. And you are going to be on the registry until your 61st birthday, which is a really long time away. This is your card. If you ever move or anything, just call it. And you are now a number. I don't need a bone marrow transplant myself. I am in remission and I feel fine, but I still have cancer. DA SILVA: As a 12-year-old, he is showing that each one of us can do so much to save others people's life. PEDRAJA: People don't know that it's such a big issue, that people are dying each day. And I want to change that. (END VIDEOTAPE) NGUYEN: And you can go to to check out Pat Pedraja's "Living on the Road" during his incredible cross-country tour. And while you're there, nominate a hero of your own.

HOLMES: Well Tropical Storm Gabrielle bearing down along the North Carolina coast this morning. And our Rob Marciano is there. Hello again to you, Rob.

MARCIANO: Good morning, T.J. Good morning, Betty. We're on the beach in the Outer Banks. As you mentioned, Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, no stranger to tropical storms and hurricanes. We have one scheduled to arrive later this afternoon. A live report is coming up.

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Rob. She is back. Britney Spears is on tap for the MTV Music Video Awards tonight. Will it be a Brit-tastic or a Brit-tastropohe? You might recall previous VMA appearance by Britney was shocking and scandalous when she shared a kiss with Madonna four years ago now. What do you think? Can Britney spears make a comeback? You want to send us your e-mails to I'm going to be reading those, coming up.


NGUYEN: All right, take a look at this. Some big waves whipping up along the North Carolina coast right now. If we can get the video to roll, you'll see that they are indeed whipping up thanks to Tropical Storm Gabrielle. Now, you're looking at live pictures. Well, we think they are, but nothing's moving there. I think it's a live picture from Riceville Beach right outside of the Wilmington, North Carolina. We've seen surfers out there this morning, but they may want to head inside pretty soon. And CNN's Rob Marciano joining us live from Cape Hatteras on North Carolina's outer banks where there you can definitely see the waves whipping.

Hey there, rob.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hi, Betty. Yeah, riptides are going to be a big concern here, so swimmers and surfers not advised to go into the water. Winds have been picking up on shore, as have the waves here as Tropical Storm Gabrielle continues to churn, head this way later on this afternoon we'll likely see a landfall.

Beach erosion a big topic, this lighthouse built over 100 years ago, they actually had to moved it back off the beech because if they didn't, well it be swim in the ocean. Check out how close it is now with beach erosion continues to be a big, big issue with these waves.

Every time a storm comes through this area, be it a nor'easter or a hurricane, tropical storm, it reshapes the beach in some way shape or form. So, beach erosion a huge concern. Storm surge, this storm is going to come on probably when low tide occurs, so it shouldn't be that big of an issue. Any rainfall we do get will help, but it felt really dry, drove right in last night, and obviously, this is affecting this hurricane, at least right here. Reynolds Wolf at the Hurricane Headquarters.

Reynolds, do I have to put on sunscreen here? Where's the moisture?

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's just a little of a wait for it. It's going to be at least a couple of hours, Rob, before you get those scattered showers moving through, some heavy rainfall, too, maybe anywhere from one to three inches of precipitation. Some places maybe as much as five. The wind is going to be picking up a bit around 60, 65 miles-an-hour and you could see anywhere from say, two to three feet of storm surge. That is just a possibility for you.

As it stands, Rob, and for everyone else tuning in, we have a tropical storm warning that's in effect from Cape Charles (INAUDIBLE) southward to Surf City, and here's the path from the National Hurricane Center showing the storm expected to strengthen with maximum sustained winds of 65 miles-an-hour. Looking at a landfall again right around the noontime hour, then by 2:00 p.m., well into the outer banks and them zooming off by the time we get to early Monday and into Tuesday off to the northeast and deeper into the Atlantic. That is a look at your tropical forecast. Let's send it back to the news desk.

NGUYEN: So, we're going to see the remnants for a couple days?

WOLF: I would say so. At least heavy surf conditions along much of the eastern seaboard at a minimum.

NGUYEN: OK, Reynolds, thank you.

WOLF: Anytime.

HOLMES: Well, a car bomb today kills an Iraqi civilian and five Iraqi soldiers. It happened south of Baghdad in Mahmoudiya. According to an official with the interior ministry there, a parked car bomb exploded near an Iraqi army convoy.

Of course, it is a crucial week ahead for President Bush's Iraq strategy. Tomorrow his top commander in Iraq testifies before Congress, and the president himself will try to make the case for his Iraq policy a little later this week. Our White House correspondent Ed Henry joins us live with the details of a heck of a week for the president.

Good morning to you , Ed.

ED HENRY, CNN NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Good morning, T.J. The president arrived back very early this morning on the south lawn of the White House from that APEC summit in Australia. He had stopped in Hawaii, but about 5:00 in the morning, he looked wobbly, as you can see him down the steps there. The entire Press Corps coming down with him, as well. And obviously everybody being a little exhausted, but it's a big week. They've got to get going now.

Two big milestones really converging. As you noted, this Iraq progress report as well as Tuesday's 6th anniversary of 9/11. And CNN has learned it's very likely that later this week the president will address the nation in primetime, and it's very likely he would link these two subjects. He did it this weekend, because of the Osama bin Laden videotape, the president saying that this just shows that the U.S. cannot be driven out of Iraq and you know that that's going to reopen a nasty dispute because Democrats are saying that al Qaeda only got stronger because of the war in Iraq, and that it might be smarter now to redeploy some U.S. troops out of the Iraq, send them to Afghanistan or even Pakistan and really step up the hunt for bin Laden.

But the other critical part of any speech the president give, of course, will be that progress report you noted. And even though it's not until tomorrow that General Petraeus will testify with Ambassador Crocker we already know, basically, what they're going to say, which is that they feel there has been some gains from the surge on the security front, but not enough progress, political reconciliation, by the Iraqi government.

But the bottom line, I think, this week to look for is despite all of the hype about this really being a pivotal moment, maybe a turning point in the war, it really looks more like a stalemate right now with the Democrats not really having enough votes to change the president's policy. The president determined to continue the current strategy. A stalemate is really likely to bring just more of the same and essentially the president buying more time into next year. So, it may not really be as pivotal a moment as many people are predicting -- T.J.

HOLMES: All right, Ed Henry for us. It is going to be an interesting week. You going to be a busy man.

HENRY: That's right.

HOLMES: We will be checking back in with you. Plan to see you a lot this week. Thanks so much.

HENRY: Thanks T.J.

HOLMES: And CNN's Wolf Blitzer will have much more on the Iraq war progress report coming up in about 90 minutes on LATE EDITION.

NGUYEN: Well, a quick-thinking hero rushes to help.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I said, "ma'am, you got to get out of this vehicle." And I opened the door for her, because she didn't have any idea what was going on, and I unclicked her seatbelt and pulled her out, and seconds later the car got struck by the train.


HOLMES: Yeah, and he pulled her out -- pulled her to safety. And as you just heard, there, it was not a moment too soon. Right after this a story of bravery when every second counts.

NGUYEN: Also, a "Little Rock Nine," a part of history and the battle over school desegregation. A little bit later this morning we're going to bring together two students from that time, one White and one African-American, now friends with a story to tell.



ANNOUNCER: is an online shoe store that's walking a new path, by offering a one-year return policy and free overnight shipping, CEO Tony Hsieh says he's building a business around the customer's needs.

TONY HSIEH, CEO, ZAPPOS.COM: I think the toughest challenge is just making sure that as you grow so quickly as a company that every employee that we bring in is as passionate about customer service as the rest of us are.

ANNOUNCER: is growing thanks to word of mouth and repeat customers. Last year's sales figures were close to $600 million. Hsieh's goal is to hit 800 million this year.

HSIEH: I try to create an environment so that employees feel empowered to themselves to strive to change, and so it's just making sure that everyone feels that anyone, whether it's myself or other managers, are accessible and open to new ideas.


NGUYEN: All right. Check this out, a dramatic rescue in Chicago. An elderly woman drives her car onto train tracks and then gets stuck. Meanwhile, two trains are quickly headed her way with seconds to spare. A passer-by runs onto the tracks and actually pulls her to safety.


THOMAS FOUST, RESCUED WOMAN FROM TRAINS: I was driving behind this elderly woman, and she basically turned down the tracks and I started honking my horn at her and the gates hadn't come down yet. So, pulled her around and then saw a train coming, and I stopped my car, I exited and right when I got by they gates, they started going down and so I just ran up to her car and started pounding on the window and said, "ma'am, you know, you got to get out of this vehicle." And I opened the door for her, because she didn't have any idea what was going on, and I unclipped her seatbelt and pulled her out, and seconds later the car got struck by the train and I was maybe 10 feet away and I covered her up so no debris hit her. (END VIDEO CLIP)

NGUYEN: All right, so get this. Even after all of that, the man who rescued her says the woman wanted to drive her car home. Yeah, that wasn't going to happen.

HOLMES: Wow. Well, going to turn now to "Little Rock Nine," a school system divided by race, two students, one White, one Black, would later become friends and they join us this morning.

NGUYEN: But first, here's a news quiz for you. What year did Arkansas schools finally integrate?



ANNOUNCER: This is Little Rock Central High School, approximately two hours before the school is scheduled to open its doors for the Fall semester. As of yet, there are, of course, no Negroes present. There were approximately 200 National Guardsmen, state troopers present here on orders of the governor.


HOLMES: Well, it has been 50 years now since school integration took center stage in Little Rock, Arkansas. There are many personal stories from that time, but few as compelling as an altercation, if you will, a bit of an incident between Dent Gitchel and Minnijean Brown Trickey. They later became friends, though. Minnijean Brown Trickey join us from Little Rock and Dent Gitchel, is in Memphis this morning.

Welcome to you both. And I will start with you, ma'am. Miss Trickey, One day you decided to dump some chili on somebody. You got fed up and Dent happened to be the person you dumped the chili on. Now, what happened that day that just got to you that you decide you had to do something and that's what you decided to do?

MINNIJEAN BROWN TRICKEY, FMR CENTRAL HIGH STUDENT: Well, I'm sorry, it didn't really actually happen that way.

HOLMES: Now, how did it go down?

TRICKEY: Well, can I tell you?

HOLMES: Yes, please. How did it go down?

TRICKEY: Actually, it was kind of the thing where boys were kicking Dent's chair, and I dropped my tray, the chili, the roll, the fork the knife. And I think dent got the most of the chili.

HOLMES: You said you just dropped it. Now, you intentionally dropped it? What happened?

TRICKEY: I haven't decided that yet? HOLMES: You still working on that?

TRICKEY: I'm still working on it.

HOLMES: OK. Now, Dent, when this happened, you really didn't think much of it at the time?

DENT GITCHEL, ATTENDED CENTRAL HIGH IN 1957: No. I still don't. First, T.J., let me say you referred to this as an altercation, and it certainly was never an altercation.

HOLMES: An incident, yes absolutely.

GITCHEL: It was an incident that occurred, and you know, I just happened to be the guy who happened to get chili on his shirt. No, it was not that big of a deal to me. I got chili on my shirt, changed my shirt and went on about my business.

HOLMES: Now are you both surprised -- ma'am, I'll start with you -- kind of that this is a kind of one of those that people are kind of interested in?

TRICKEY: Well, I guess it's one story that has a little drama to it, unfortunately, and it followed me for 50 years now.

HOLMES: Now, and sir, what did you think about the idea now -- I guess it was just a couple years ago that you all actually had a chance to connect. When that idea was first brought to you, what did you think about it?

TRICKEY: Well, I think it's really important to sort of see people from your past and find out if they've been thinking over the years, if they've changed, if they've thought about things. I certainly have, and when I did talk to Dent the first time, I realized that we were in some ways kindred spirits because we were thoughtful people and concerned people...

HOLMES: And Dent, do I have this right? You all met at a chili cook-off?

GITCHEL: Oh, yeah. We judged -- they called it the 19 -- the 2005 chili incident. It was a fund-raiser for the Central High museum to raise money for the new visitor's center at the museum and Minnijean and I helped judge the chili cook-off a couple of years ago. That was fun.

HOLMES: Well sir, at the time, you as a White student there with all this going on, did you really have a sense of the great history? And I think I read somewhere that you said this is really the year you started to think for yourself and I guess things kind of opened up for you. What was your sense of history at the time, at least?

GITCHEL: Well, T.J., I really didn't -- you know, I was bewildered by what was going on. I had no idea of the momentous scope of those events. Yeah, that was the year that really it was -- those events and the things I experienced that year, not the chili incident, but the entire year, it was sort of the year that I began to, I think, intellectually grow and think. I didn't really have an epiphany, but that started a slow questioning of values and things I'd been taught as a Southern boy that, yeah, I think it really did affect my attitudes towards a lot of things.

HOLMES: And Miss Trickey, to wrap up with you quickly, if I could. Where did this incident, the chili incident, which you haven't decided yet, if you did it accidentally or if you did it on purpose, but, where did that -- in that whole, everything you were going through at the time, which was a lot, still was this incident one that kind of stayed in your mind and something you had thought about over and over again?

TRICKEY: It stayed in everybody else's mind, and so I had to think about it. It took me quite a number of years to come to some resolution about it because it was described as some kind of altercation, which it wasn't. And you know, that's the great thing about getting older, we become -- I hope we become wiser. So I'm liberated from the stigma of it, and in part Dent has helped me to come to that. So, it's never too late to get to know people, to talk to people, to have the opportunity to reflect. So it's been great for me.

HOLMES: Well, Minnijean Brown Trickey and Dean, excuse me, Dent Gitchel, become friends now after, again, that chili incident all those many years ago. Thank you all so much for being here and sharing this story. And I know the commemorations are coming up in about a week or so, there, in Little Rock. I'm sure you all are going to be -- keeping a close eye on that. So, we will see you again I'm sure. But thank you both for being here.

TRICKEY: And thank you.

GITCHEL: Thank you.

TRICKEY: Thank you very much.

NGUYEN: Well, like they say, oops can she do it again? No, chili's not involved. But, can Britney pull it off? Talking about Britney Spears, of course. She's got a big gig on TV tonight. So, is this a Britney comeback? Well, Veronica de la Cruz is following the story online.

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN.COM DESK: Oh, and it is the burning question of the morning. The blogs have been saying this could be Britney's big comeback, but is she a train wreck that is simply too far gone? Can that pop star, once again, become a pop princess? Send us your e-mails to We're going to be reading those, coming up.



ANNOUNCER: What's going on with Britney is she coming?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. It's a surprise.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Britney is a very, very talented young lady. She's going to do amazing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my god. I cannot wait. Girl, I was so sad when there was a picture of her and the kids in the car. And I was like what? But now I'm like OK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm just as eagerly anticipating her comeback as is everyone else.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, I think that she's going to be good. She's ready. (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When people look at you like hmm, that's motivation to you. You know what I mean? To do better.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not a good look.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So many surprises. I don't even really know what's going on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Britney's going to be good, all right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good luck, Britney, good luck.


NGUYEN: Do you believe it? OK, take a look at this. Remember this, way back when in 2003, to be exact, before marriage, babies, and a very public -- woo -- public meltdown. Britney Spears and Madonna shocked the world at the MTV Music Awards and they were doing a little kissing, shall we say?

HOLMES: Yeah, it's been a minute now, been a long four years for the former pop princess, but she's poised for a comeback tonight, and it's got the online world blogging.'s Veronica de la Cruz. I know everybody's curious to know what her hair is going to look like.

CRUZ: Well, that's one thing, but...

NGUYEN: Is she going to have hair?

CRUZ: Is she going to show up? I mean, this girl has been a train wreck.

NGUYEN: (INAUDIBLE), don't you think?

CRUZ: Well, you know, I'm just looking at her track record. And at this point, it's kind of like you just never know what's going to happen. You know?

HOLMES: That's going to get us to watch?

CRUZ: Hey, you're going to watch.

HOLMES: I'm having a watch party.

NGUYEN: He is not having a watch party.

CRUZ: You're going to have a watch party of one.

HOLMES: I have one every year. It's huge.

CRUZ: Well, you guys know it's the question of morning, can she make a comeback. And there has been no shortage of opinions about Britney back at the VMA's tonight, and unfortunately a lot is bad. But we're going to go ahead and start with this e-mail from Ava in Florida who says:

"We need to give the girl a break. It would be ludicrous to expect her to be washed up in her 20s. So she had made a few mistakes. She's young, who doesn't make mistakes when they are young? I did, didn't you?"


NGUYEN: Let's not get into that.

HOLMES: Next e-mail, please.

CRUZ: All right, next e-mail from Ms. Kevyn love, it says:

"I am dreading Britney's "performance" at tonight's MVAs. If she can't remember to wear underwear, tries to use Whitestrips to clean her kid's teeth, and hangs with questionable characters like Criss Angel (hello...shampoo?), how can we expect anything decent from such a train wreck?

NGUYEN: That's harsh.

CRUZ: Than Ball in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma asks:

"Britney who? Sorry. I'm preoccupied with a war at the moment."

And Than was not alone on that one.

C. Gentry writes: "Spears, Lohan, Hilton, and the slew of others is that they should be forced out for a substantial period out time...then they could earn re-entrance via responsible credible behavior and performance."

But, I mean, who -- how does that happen? Where's the system there?

Marlane Lauren writes: "The door hit her behind a long time ago. Personally, I think the only reason people will be interested in watching Britney Spears is for the curiosity factor. She has been nothing but one train wreck after another."

And there you go, it's kind of the predominant theme. We keep hearing the same words, "train wreck," so. They're going to be watching, you're going to be watching out of curiosity. HOLMES: Out of curiosity. Maybe this is be the start.

NGUYEN: The only reason, yeah.

HOLMES: Maybe this is be the start of a comeback, though. Hopefully so, a lot of people pulling for her, no matter what.

CRUZ:, just in case you too would like to weigh in.

All right, thank you, ma'am. And if the VMAs aren't necessarily your cup of tea, maybe the "Sundance Kid" is up your alley.

NGUYEN: That's right, tonight at 10:00 Robert Redford is in the "Sunday Spotlight" to talk about global warming and environmental issues ahead of this week's summit there, at 10:00 Eastern tonight only on CNN.


NGUYEN: You're not going anywhere, are you? Because we need you to stay right here on CNN because coming up next, RELIABLE SOURCES, our panel of experts discuss Fred Thompson . Did he sidestep mainstream media when he entered the presidential race?

HOLMES: Than at 11:00 on the East Coast, 8:00 out West, LATE EDITION with Wolf Blitzer, the latest bin Laden tape and its effect on Homeland Security. But first, a check of the morning's top developments.