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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
ISIS Claims American Hostage Killed by Jordanian Airstrike; ISIS Seeking to Rebuild Stock of Western Captives; Analyzing Data from TransAsia Crashed Plane; Investigation of Railroad and SUV Collision in Valhalla, New York, Continues; Jury Taking Field Trip to Crime Scene
Aired February 6, 2015 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Thanks for joining us.
We have breaking news tonight. Indications that ISIS maybe looking to grab new western hostages from unexpected places, even as inflict, their latest act of cruelty on the world.
It involves a young American woman. Her name is Kayla Mueller. Now, you might not have heard that name before or heard much about her until now because her family has tried to keep as low profile in interest of her safety. However, that ended today when ISIS claimed that she has killed, killed they say in one of the airstrikes that Jordan has been carrying out as retribution for ISIS murdering a captured Jordanian fighter pilot. ISIS did not show a body in the ruble where they claim the airstrikes hit. They did not show that or any other proof of death that Jordanians are calling their claim a quote "PR stunt."
The latest now on that and the possible new ISIS plot from Barbara Starr who joins us from the Pentagon. So what's the Pentagon saying, are they buying these claims by ISIS?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Anderson.
Right now, the Obama administration officially saying it cannot verify, it cannot corroborate any of ISIS' claims about any of this. But look, you know, you look at the evidence there. Nobody. The claim that she alone was killed by this Jordanian airstrike. How would ISIS know a bomb came from a Jordanian plane, not some other plane? Would one person be left alone in this multistory building? Would there not be other people there? Would there not be security around her if she was a hostage?
The whole thing just doesn't add up. I have to tell you, you know, our Evan Perez is getting some indications this evening from intelligence sources in the administration that their working theory and we want to emphasize, it's just a working theory, is that perhaps Kayla was killed several weeks ago and this is somewhat of a manufactured, vicious cover story basically for ISIS to cover their tracks knowing that killing a woman would be something that they really could not show to the Islamic world.
So a lot of doubt, a lot of skepticism and just really, once again, terrible news for yet another family.
COOPER: It would also be a way of trying to kind of weaken Jordan's response to ISIS and kind of raise questions about Jordan's capabilities.
STARR: Well, it might be, you know, to suggest this, to suggest that, you know, somehow Jordan knew that this woman was in a building alive. It kind of stretches the imagination. Today, you know, in fact, we saw Queen Ronia of Jordan marching in the streets of Amman along with people. Another symbol of Jordan's perhaps resolve to really fight back against ISIS.
They're a small Jordan -- small country, poor country, a small military. But right now at least, you look at the queen of Jordan, you look at what King Abdullah has done in recent days and they are really trying to galvanize the people and there is a reaction in the street there.
COOPER: And we're going to go to Jordan shortly.
Let's talk, though, about this report that ISIS has been developing plans to try to abduct more western hostages. What's the latest on that? Because clearly the number of hostages, they have western hostages, I mean, that's dwindling.
STARR: Yes, I mean, you know, what a thing to say. The number of hostages, but you're right, is of known hostages is almost done with, shall we say. There is a British journalist we know of, obviously, that is still being held by them. There is some intelligence reporting that one of their new strategies is going to be to try and kidnap westerners from surrounding countries like Lebanon, like Jordan, capture them and take them back into Syria and hold them there.
You know, whether that is real, whether it's an aspiration, whether it's ISIS' next sort of vicious trick up their sleeve, we'll have to see. But obviously, a good deal of concern right now. If ISIS is running out of hostages to manipulate the world opinion, what do they have planned?
COOPER: Yes. Barbara Starr, appreciate the updates.
Again, Kayla Mueller's family and advisors have tried to keep as low a profile as possible out of concern for her well being. However, now that ISIS has done what it has done and brought her name into the open, this might be a good time to just show you who this dedicated young caring woman really is.
COOPER (voice-over): Kayla Jean Mueller from Prescott, Arizona. She can probably best be described as a citizen of the world. In high school, Mueller volunteered for the save Darfur coalition. And according to a local paper, even lobbied members of Congress and staged silent protest for the cause. In college, Northern Arizona University, she became president of a
group called stand, a student-led movement to end mass atrocities. After graduation, she traveled first to Northern India and then to Israel and the Palestinian territories working for humanitarian organizations. By 2011, Syria was beckoning, she spoke about it in this online post.
KAYLA MUELLER, 26-YEAR-OLD: I am in solidarity with the Syrian people. I reject the brutality and killing that the Syrian authorities are committing against the Syrian people.
COOPER: In 2012, Mueller made her first trip to the Syrian Turkish border. She was working for aid groups supporting Syrians fleeing the violence in their country. On a trip home in May of 2013, she spoke to her local paper about her experiences saying quote "when Syrians hear I'm an American, they ask, where is the world? All I can do is cry with them because I don't know."
She returned to the region in just about two months after that interview was taken hostage. Mueller leaving the hospital in Aleppo, Syria, when she was kidnapped. Her family wouldn't hear about her fate until May 2014, ten months after first captured. ISIS provided a proof of life and demanded nearly $7 million or they would kill her August 13th.
Mueller is believed to have survived that deadline, but any negotiations with ISIS that may have taken place for her release have been secret. She was held hostage during the same time and perhaps a point in the same cell as three other Americans -- James Foley, Stephen Sotloff and Abdul Ramankasic. Like them, Kayla Mueller had gone to a war torn country to bear witness and help in any way she could. And before her capture, she was quoted as saying Syrians are dying by the thousands and they're fighting just to talk about the rights we have. She went on to say as long as I live, I'll not let this suffering be normal.
COOPER: Let's get some perspective now from CNN global affairs analyst and investigative reporter David Rohde who survived seven months at the hands of the Taliban before managing to escape, also CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen.
David, I mean, up until now, Kayla's family wanted to keep her name out of the media. CNN and others abided by the request. They went public today after this ISIS claim. From the negotiating standpoint, can you explain the theory about keeping her name quiet?
DAVID ROHDE: CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: The idea is if you keep the case quiet, you can maybe, you know, settle it quietly, that they'll come down to a more reasonable ransom amount, that they, you know, won't -- maybe there's something, there's nothing in her past. She seems like just an incredible human being. But, you know, keeping it quiet, keeping her name out of the news would maybe, you know, you don't want a situation with a high profile case. She's well known and lose face if they release her as a loose face to other jihadists. So I think that's what the family was doing and I think that was an appropriate approach.
COOPER: And David, the more high profile she becomes, the potential is the ransom goes up or the greater the demand.
ROHDE: Yes. So then you've got, you know, ISIL is a very diverse organization. You've got hard liners who want to see her or any American killed and not released under any circumstances. So, you know, other leaders who might want to use her for money might want to keep the case quiet. And again, it will be easier for them to compromise at a lower profile at the cases.
COOPER: Peter, what do you make of these claims that ISIS -- I mean, they are saying this young woman was killed by a coalition airstrike, by Jordanian airstrike. I mean, is it possible as Barbara said they don't want to be seen as executing a woman or they trying to divide the coalition?
PETER BERGEN, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: We just don't know. I mean, clearly a group that will burn a human being alive is very capable of lying about this issue and doesn't seem to be any merit of the actual specific claim that ISIS is making. But we have no evidence either way. If Kayla is alive or dead, and I think in the absence of that, we should presume that she's alive.
COOPER: And David, all the foreigners who were being held or are being held by ISIS, I mean, at one point, it seems like many of them were held together.
ROHDE: Yes. They moved around many different places, but there does seem to have been a period in Raqqa in Syria where they were treated better. And there's one story, and this isn't confirmed yet, but that the women and men were in the same building, that I've heard they were in different cells. And again, these people so courageous. They set up a system where they are communicating secretly. They were using the same bathroom and the groups of men and women would leave notes there, and the guards didn't figure it out. And they were communicating that way, secretly.
Apparently the guards did discover the notes at some point. They monitored the notes, they read them and then they took some very brutal retaliation against at least the men in the group. But there was this desperate effort for the different foreign men and female and male captives to communicate with each other.
COOPER: Peter, at this idea that ISIS might be (INAUDIBLE) to kidnap other westerners either in Lebanon or in Jordan, how realistic is it? How easy would it be for them to do that and actually get them across get back into Syria?
BERGEN: I think it's a plausible idea and journalists have already been warned in southeastern Turkey in the city of Gaziantap (ph) by the FBI that ISIS or groups that might eventually sell you to ISIS were interested in kidnapping westerners in southeastern Turkey. So, we sort of seeing this story before.
And you know, as David and anybody who has been kidnapped by these groups, you know, there is the possibility that one group will take you and then you get kind of sold up in a chain, ultimately to the one of more vicious groups like ISIS. So it's not just ISIS itself but other it's other jihadi groups, you know, that are operating in the region that could be problematic as well.
COOPER: David, when you were being held, and I know every time we talked about it as you're quick to point out it was not the same situation or length of time. You were held for seven months. And many of these other people been held for much longer in different circumstances. You were held by the Taliban. But were you aware of any discussions or negotiations that were going on or the idea of being traded to another group? Was that very much in your mind?
ROHDE: It was. And the tragedy in these Syria cases is that, you know, the American captives were held with Europeans and more than a dozen of Europeans were ransomed. And the male prisoners and the female prisoners, Kayla, would have known that at least a dozen European men had left. And then, you're also asked for proof of life and there was proof of life, as you mentioned in an earlier report, she was probably asked three very personal questions by her family. They presented them to ISIS, you know, something about her high school graduation or some relative fact that only Kayla can answer. And, you know, when she was asked those questions, and provided correct answers, I'm sure that raised her hope.
Again, it's just heartbreaking what's happened here. It's heartbreaking for these families and I'm biased but I just blame these captors. You know, she was an unarmed aid worker and it's just outrageous, you know, that she was taken captive. I agree with Peter. We should presume she's alive but if she's gone, it's just horrific what they've done.
COOPER: And as you said, she went to stand in solidarity with people who are, you know, being subjected to abuse by the Assad regime. I mean, as you said, it's just horrific. The capture of all these people horrific but for somebody who's just there to try to help with civilians is stunning.
David Rohde, thank you. Peter Bergen as well.
Coming up next, we are going to explore this possible ISIS hostage taking plan in greater depth. Also, look at the larger strategy for defeating ISIS. How is it going.
But we'll also take you to the scene of that deadly collision between the commuter train and a woman. Her SUV stuck in the crossing. We'll show you what her options were and how much time she actually had to save herself. Because that's the big question, is why didn't she in the time she had, get off those tracks?
COOPER: Breaking news tonight, concern that ISIS could be seeking to rebuild its stock of western captives. A Middle Eastern security source telling us there have been ISIS plans since the middle of last year to take new hostages. I want to dig deeper now with Paul Cruickshank broke the story and he
joins us now.
So explain what, you know, what your sources, what you're hearing about this.
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, according to the Middle East security source, the intelligence indicates that ISIS have been developing these plans and ISIS outfit in Raqqa have been developing these plans to snatch westerners in neighboring countries. I was specifically told about concern about Jordan and Lebanon and bring them back into Syria and then use them for these horrible propaganda purposes.
COOPER: How easy would it be for them to do that? I mean, I was in the border region. It would be the easiest. But I mean, are you talking about capitals like Amman, the capital Jordan or Beirut?
CRUICKSHANK: It's agree with a lot resource there. It is a lot of money. It could sort of bribe security guards and significant capability to sort of pull off this kind of operation in terms of capturing potentially westerners.
There's also a lot of concern about Egypt because there is new ISIS affiliate, Bidal Matis (ph) which is very active right now. There's still significant numbers of Americans and westerners who are traveling to Egypt. And this group, just this past summer, killed an American in a carjacking. So a lot of concern about Egypt as well, Anderson.
COOPER: And obviously even having this information out there, it damages the tourism in Jordan, in Lebanon, and in Egypt, countries which rely on tourism.
CRUICKSHANK: It certainly does. But you know, this is sort of intelligence, specific indicating that they have been looking to plan this to get more westerners. Of course, you know, now they're kind of running out of westerners because they sort of beheaded so many of them.
COOPER: Right. I mean, there's a sick logic to it in this sick calculus of ISIS which is they need more hostages. They need to replenish their supply.
CRUICKSHANK: Absolutely. And you've seen how they sort of milked this for propaganda purposes. And also, before the summer, they were getting quite a lot of money from the Europeans for some of those European hostages by all accounts. It's quite a lucrative business for them. So a lot of incentives for them to have done it and sort of carry on trying to sort of plan this.
COOPER: Interesting. Paul Cruickshank, appreciate the reporting.
Joining me now is CNN military analyst, Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona, also CNN national security commentator Mike Rogers. He is the former chairman of the House intelligence committee. Congressman, this news, this idea that ISIS is planning to kidnap
westerners in Jordan and Lebanon, bring back into Syria. It would certainly be an escalation in the tactics but as I said, in the calculus of ISIS, it makes a certain amount of sense.
MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: Absolutely. And you know, this goes way back. Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb in Northern Africa was the number one supplier of cash to Al-Qaeda corps, if you will, the leadership and they did it through ransom.
And remember, ISIS used to be an Al-Qaeda affiliate. So this has been with through their ranks from Northern Africa to the Middle East to Afghanistan. We even saw the Taliban and I have discussions after the Taliban five exchange say, hey, we need to go out and buy some western hostages to keep them for some negotiation ability.
So this is, a, very plausible and b, in both Lebanon and Jordan, it is, because of the border issues there, the large number of people from Syria coming over, the large number of refugee camps, this is absolutely plausible and that's what makes it, I think, credible.
COOPER: And Colonel, I mean, you're particularly worried about aid workers in say the north of Jordan near the Syrian border.
LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes, the largest concentration of Syrians outside of Syria are in Jordan. There's a huge refugee camp just south of the border there. When you have a refugee camp, you've got United Nations people, you've got non- governmental organizations, church workers, aid workers, very similar to the young lady that we are worried about in Syria right now.
So and as the congressman says, this is very doable, especially in the northern part of Jordan because you've got a lot of sympathizers for ISIS in Jordan and that border is very, very porous. So I am very concerned about people that I know that are working in Jordan right now.
COOPER: And Congressman, even if it's not ISIS direct doing it, I mean, we've seen in other kidnapping cases as we talked about before the break, other groups or individuals taking people and then selling them to another group.
ROGERS: Well, absolutely. It is a cash business and we should make no mistake about it. It could be an Al-Qaeda affiliate. Al-Nusra or Al-Sham that is in Syria. It could be a criminal enterprise that understands their value is a cash proposition. They take a westerner. They bring him back into Syria and they know that groups like ISIS will pay for these hostages. They've made it known.
That is what makes it so dangerous. You're not just looking for ISIL people crossing the border. You now have this worry about criminal enterprises who are infiltrating into these camps. And I've been in this camp in Jordan along that border. It's huge. It is almost unmanageable. They are doing as well as they can and the numbers keep swelling to the place where there is a little bit of chaos. There's a little bit of disorganization and in that area is where they'll probably or at least have an opportunity to try to make a snatch.
COOPER: Colonel, what do you make of these claims by ISIS that American hostage Kayla Mueller was killed by Jordanian airstrike? I mean, the Jordanians are saying it's a PR thing, that they're saying.
FRANCONA: I'm going to go along with the Jordanians here. It is just too convenient. Just a few days after the tape surfaces about the emulation of this Jordanian pilot and then all of the sudden, the Jordanians react and now we blame the Jordanians for killing an American hostage.
I just think it is too convenient. I don't think they have any credibility whatsoever. And you know, Jordan reacted. Their airstrikes were conducted under the umbrella of the coalition. There was American intelligence, coalition intelligence, area refueling, electronic warfare. This was not independent action on the part of the Jordanians. So if there was any inkling, any indication whatsoever that she was in any of those buildings, they would have been on the no-strike list. There is no way we would hit a building that anybody thought she was anywhere near. So I just don't put any credibility at all in the ISIS claim.
COOPER: It's also interesting, Congressman, because the images that ISIS release, they don't show any smoke above the scene of the alleged airstrike, no flames. Might expect see more signs, something like that.
ROGERS: Absolutely. It should have been smoldering, if it was new. There's some of the debris patterns that don't quite fit the recent strike in a building like that. But in addition to that, we know a bit about the pattern of how they move prisoners and hostages. And it doesn't fit. So they would never leave a hostage by themselves in a building. That is not the case.
There's a whole bunch of series of things that they're claiming happen to this woman that do not fit their profile, not even close. And so, you know, when you look at all of the evidence that's presented, it's really hard to come to the conclusion that she was killed in any airstrike that happened in recent days. And unfortunately, it fits the same pattern of the captured airmen that he was killed prior to any event where they released any of the information he was dead.
COOPER: Colonel, in terms of targeting ISIS targets, I mean, how many viable targets are there really left at this point? Ones that you can actually, you know, degrade their forces, degrade their capabilities? I mean, there have been a lot of strikes already and this isn't a conventional force and certainly, the degree that they were a conventional force, they seem to have changed their tactics.
FRANCONA: Exactly. And we saw this right after we announced that we would be bombing targets in Syria and Iraq. We saw an immediate change, dispersing their forces, moving them into more civilian areas and not presenting these huge targets where they used to have vehicle parks, ammunition dumps, fuel storage areas. Those were all dispersed, those were all moved out. So rather than hitting concentrated targets where you could bring mass
amounts of force and do a lot of damage and effectively degrade the organization, what we're doing now is going after small targets. You're going after a few trucks, a few gun positions. It makes it very, very difficult, it's very expensive, it's very time-consuming. So when you see the Jordanians muster 24 aircraft, you have to wonder, what actually are they going after? If there was a target that large, we would have already hit it.
COOPER: So that was my point. I mean, to suddenly say they hit 20 targets, seems like, what, those 20 targets were just waiting to be hit? I mean, obviously, they wanted to hit something very quickly and all of the sudden, we found 20 targets. It just -- it makes me a little skeptical.
FRANCONA: Of course. And it's a PR campaign on the part of the Jordanians as well. They have to show their people that they're doing something. That target was probably a re-strike. We probably hit it before. But if it was that large of a target there, the U.S. air force, the Saudi air force, everybody else would have been on that target already.
COOPER: Colonel Francona, it is good to have you. Congressman Rogers, as always, thank you very much.
Coming up next, new information about this doomed airliner's final seconds. You've seen the video by now. New questions, did the flight crew actually make a fatal mistake turning off an engine? We are going to look at whether the plane may have been flyable otherwise.
And later, what the driver of an SUV saw and heard and did at the railroad crossing where she lost her life along with five others aboard a speeding commuter train.
COOPER: Hey, Welcome back. One minute and six seconds, that is how long TransAsia flight 235 with 58 people on board coasted through the air without useful power from these two powerful engine. That's how long it flew that simply could not fly anymore. Take a look.
COOPER: Still unbelievable. Tonight, early data from the doomed airliner so-called black boxes indicates that neither engine was running prior to the crash, which happened shortly after takeoff from Taipei, Taiwan. 37 seconds into the flight, alarm sound. Engine two is having a problem, however, it appears the pilots reduced power to engine one, the good engine instead and eventually shut it off. By now, engine two has failed. Then, that agonizing minute and six seconds as the crew tries to restart both engines but fails. The airliner as you see, now, a glider five stall warnings go off as it slows down, loses airflow over the wings and falls to earth. All of it now putting new focus on decisions that the flight crew themselves made and whether they were the right decisions. Joining us now, is CNN aviation correspondent Richard Quest and CNN safety analyst and crash investigator David Soucie, author of the new book "Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: Why It Disappeared and Why It's Only a Matter of Time Before This Happens Again." So, Richard, we'll start with you. Why would pilot turn off a good engine?
RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Two reasons. Either they have misdiagnosed the problem, so they don't know which engine has failed. And so they turn off the one they think of and it turns out to be the wrong one. Or what might have happened here and looking at the transcript seems possible is they diagnosed the right problem, in other words, engine number two has failed. But for some inexplicable reason, they then go and switch the wrong engine off because they hit the wrong button on the fog of the moment and they do it. So, those are the reasons. It's a well-documented problem in planes.
COOPER: It's happened before?
QUEST: Oh, 1999, is the most classic, British Midland, London at Kegworth, one engine failed. The captain, experienced captain, he switched off the other engine in the moment of confusion.
COOPER: And David, is that what it is? Just because of the confusion, is it not clear in terms of controls and warnings and the cockpit, which engine is failing?
DAVID SOUCIE, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: You know, it's not clear for a number of reasons, but one of them, particularly with this aircraft is the fact that there's an automated system that counteracts that reverse thrust.
COOPER: What's the Ya system?
SOUCIE: That be the opposite system, so the Ya system is the rudder. So, what it would feel like to a pilot flying the aircraft is, if the right engine fails, you would expect that it would yaw in this direction. But because it compensates, it would keep you in the level direction. So, you just can't fly the seat of the pants. You have to diagnose the problem by looking at your gauges and really having a calm perception of what's going on. But you have to understand in the meantime, you've got bells and whistles and five different alarms going off and you are trying to figure out what's going on. But to cage the engine, to put it into the off position, the reason they do that, and people might be asking this, why would you shut down an engine at all?
SOUCIE: If it's quick, it's quick, right? So, but what happens is you pull the throttle back, and then you can feather that engine which we talked about last night a little bit of taking the - of the propeller and lining it with the flight so that there's not resistance. So, that's one way of doing it, but again, with this aircraft, this may be a situation where we have safety getting in the way of safety, which is that in this aircraft, you have an auto feather so there really was no reason to cage that engine. The auto feather and the Ya should have flown that aircraft and taken it fine, had he just stayed calm, allowed everything to stay as it was, most likely he could have floated that aircraft down and possibly made at least a safer landing on that river.
COOPER: I've heard also, even with private pilots, often they're instructed when they're learning, they're instructed don't do anything at first because often what your first instinct is something that's going to make a mistake. And if you are able - this could have flown with just one engine.
QUEST: Oh, there is no question. And the investigator said that. It could have flown, it would not have flown very smoothly or very elegantly, but certainly, it would have flown sufficiently to get it back to a safe landing at the field. Yes, what they say is, of course, is when in doubt, do not. Don't do anything. That's certainly was the case in Air France 447. We don't know, of course, 8501, and, of course, it seems like it might have been similar here. If you look at the transcript that we heard about so far, they clearly knew that engine number two wasn't working. So you then go to why did they switch off engine number one? Was that this momentary confusion? Did they just hit the wrong switch? But they're not supposed to do that. There are all procedures. I say what I'm about to do. You agree, with what I'm about to do. I then do it.
COOPER: And David, how long could a plane like this, this type of plane, an ATR-72, how long could it fly with both engines out?
SOUCIE: With both engines out, the glide ratio on this air craft is pretty good, actually. We talked on the 777, when we were talking about that, of 17 to 1. This is more like 45 or 50-1. So, this aircraft can glide for quite a long time, except, if, again, if the props are on feather. That's the whole different scenario.
COOPER: When you say 45 or 50 to 1. What's that - 50 feet forward?
SOUCIE: Yeah, right, for 45 feet forward or so, you drop one foot. So it does have a pretty good glide ratio, and - but again as Richard said, one engine should have kept this flying. The only other reason I could think he would shut the other engine down is, again, if it's not feathered, the aircraft becomes terribly uncontrollable. And so, if you want to possibly try to align the aircraft a little bit better, it's possible you might want to reduce the power on that left engine, but I've been going over the transcripts now in the flight data recorder information and it appears as though the lever was continually brought back. It wasn't the swift solid movement, it wasn't like - I've got to shut this down.
SOUCIE: It was kind of playing with it, you have to try to play with it, and that would be typical of them trying to get that ya, trying to maintain control of the airplane. These were high time hours. These pilots have been flying for 65, 100 hours. These were high time pilots who knew how to fly that aircraft.
QUEST: I just want to put this into perspective. We've been talking tonight just now for longer than they were in the air almost and they- we haven't had bells, buzzers and noises, stall, stall, stall and all these things going on and descending at the same time. This puts it into the complexity of what they faced when this happened.
COOPER: And the lack of time. Richard, thank you very much. David Soucie as well.
Up next, retracing the steps of that SUV driver who triggered a deadly collision with the New York commuter train.
And later, jurors in the Aaron Hernandez murder trial take a trip to his home, the scene of the crime.
COOPER: Welcome back. Disturbing questions remain about the New York commuter train accident that killed six people including the driver of the SUV who moved into the path of the train, and that triggered the fiery crash at the evening rush hour on Tuesday. Now, what no one knows yet, is why that driver got back in her car and moved forward as the train approached. Randi Kaye went to the scene of the collision and here's what she found.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Moments before Ellen Brody's SUV turned into a fireball, she was first in line to cross the railroad track. The NTSB says the warning lights at the crossing began flashing 39 seconds before the crash and the gates came down just a few seconds later. Rick Hope, who was in the car behind Brody said her car was actually inside the first gate, which came down on the back of her vehicle, putting her between the gate and the track, but not on the track.
RICK HOPE, WITNESSED FATAL ACCIDENT: I fully expected her to back up, so I looked behind me, and luckily, there is no one behind me. I'm able to back up and wait for her to back up. She looks at me, I gesture to come back. I back up again further to indicate that there's plenty of room to back up.
KAYE: Instead, she got out and looked at the gate on her car. He said she then got back inside and pulled forward on to the track. Nobody knows why.
And here's another question. We know she drove right on to the tracks right here. Why did she stay there? Because if you take a look, that gate, that arm, even if it was all the way down, she would have had plenty of room to just cross the tracks and keep going. The NTSB tells us it's looking into whether or not there was traffic on the other side that would have stopped Brody from crossing quickly. It's also doing a sight test to figure out what she may have seen if she looked down the tracks. And how much time she may have thought she had.
Did Ellen Brody not hear the train approaching? It's possible she may not have. The Metro-North train was going 58 miles per hour, but the federal railroad administration says that even a train going 50 miles per hour may be no louder than a blender or someone shouting. So once she got back inside her SUV, she may not have realized the train was approaching.
But what about the horn? A locomotive engineer we talked to said the train's horn is often louder than the siren on an ambulance. The NTSB says the train's engineer activated the emergency brake which then prompted the train's horn to sound. That horn sounded for four seconds. Four seconds. Then, the train slammed into the woman's SUV. Perhaps she thought she had more time. A spokesman for the NTSB says the man in the car behind Brody doesn't remember hearing the train horn or the bells. Though he did recall seeing the flashing lights. The last thing he saw was Ellen Brody's SUV disappear and then explode as it was pushed nearly 1,000 feet by the train.
COOPER: And I guess we may never know why she didn't move or why she stayed with the car. I mean, does it seem she didn't hear the horn?
KAYE: It's possible. I spoke with this train engineer today and he said the horn is supposed to be audible at about a quarter mile away, so you'd think that she would have heard it because it's pretty loud, but on the flip side of that, he also said that even as the train is approaching, the sound of the horn, as the train's moving forward, the sound of the horn is going backwards, the same thing that would happen with an ambulance racing through the city streets.
So, even though it was getting closer to her, the sound was actually getting further away from her. And he also said, made a quick point of this, that if she got back in her car, maybe the heat was blasting because it was a cold night or she had music on. That really could have muffled the sound of ...
COOPER: Or she got panic. I mean we don't know.
KAYE: Exactly. We don't know. So, they are still investigating.
COOPER: Randi, thank you, just so terrible. We want to take a moment to remember that the train passengers who lost their lives in that collision. We are trying to learn more and more about them. Robert Dirks who was described as a brilliant scientist, a D.E. Shaw research. Walter Liedtke was European paintings curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Joseph Nadol was analyst at JPMorgan. Aditya Tomar also worked at JPMorgan. The company described him as an extraordinary colleague with tireless team support and Eric Vandercar was senior managing director of Mesirow Financial and our thoughts are with all of their families tonight. Just ahead, the latest on the Aaron Hernandez murder trial and the trip the jury took today, plus a dangerous mudslide in Washington leads to flooding and evacuations. And the 911 call. This is unbelievable. It sparked an investigation. A father struck in a hit-and-run on the side of the road. His teenage daughter called for help and the operator told her to stop whining. Details ahead.
COOPER: On day six of the Aaron Hernandez murder trial, jurors boarded a bus and went on to field trip, getting a firsthand look at the crime scene, where Odin Lloyd's body was found as well as other key locations including his accused murderer's house. And on this high profile case, lawyers on both sides wanted jurors to see for themselves what they've already heard about or will hear about in court. Susan Candiotti has more.
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A field trip that's all business requested by prosecutors and defense. The Aaron Hernandez jury escorted by bus in a police motorcade for an up close view of evidence that might make it easier to understand the case. In court, prosecutors give a preview.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to direct your attention to a cell tower that's located in that area.
CANDIOTTI: The jury sees four cell phone towers that prosecutors say generate signals along the route, the former Patriot tight end takes with Odin Lloyd the night he's murdered. Next stop, outside Odin Lloyd's home. During the jury tour, prosecutors point out a security camera at the house across the street. It captures this surveillance video of Lloyd getting into a car investigators say is driven by Hernandez. Hernandez is not allowed on this trip, but the jury gets to see the spot where prosecutors say, Odin Lloyd's bullet-riddled body is found in this industrial park. After about 15 minutes, they head for Hernandez's neighborhood.
The jury's bus tour winding up here at Aaron Hernandez's home. They're inside right now, both prosecutors and defense wanting to show off the home security system, which includes at least 12 cameras. It's going to be critical evidence in this trial. They also, the defense, that is, had to remove various football memorabilia and family photos that were not there in June of 2013, when Hernandez is arrested for Lloyd's murder. Inside the home, they also see --
WILLIAM MCCAULEY, BRISTOL COUNTY PROSECUTOR: The kitchen area and then to a living room and we get moving pointing out certain features of the layout of the home.
CANDIOTTI: Including the great room seen in this surveillance video of Hernandez's fiancee and her sister recorded a day after Lloyd's death. Jurors also see the foyer where Hernandez's photographed walking into the house minutes after Lloyd's murder and prosecutors say holding the murder weapon that's never been found.
COOPER: Susan Candiotti joins us now from Fall River, Massachusetts. Why were items removed from the house before the jurors arrived?
CANDIOTTI: Well, you know, Anderson, when prosecutors had a preview of the home, they saw things that they didn't like, they got mad about it and they went to the judge. They told the judge that they saw religious items, they took out other things, memorabilia from his football days and some family photos that they said wasn't there in June of 2013 when Odin Lloyd was murdered. So then, the defense had to remove many of those items. Not all of them, but those weren't there at the time. The defense denied it was making any attempt to manipulate the jury. Anderson?
COOPER: All right. Susan, thanks for the details.
Up next, outrage over the way a 911 operator spoke to a 13-year-old girl who had just seen her father get hit by a car.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of them is conscious. So two people were struck?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, they're both laying. They're just laying there?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, let's stop whining. OK, let's stop whining. It's hard to understand you.
COOPER: Welcome back. Usually when we hear 9-1-1 dispatchers responding to life or death emergencies, we marvel at how they remain calm and reassuring under the most stressful circumstances. It's a very difficult job. Unfortunately, this is not one of those times. A dispatcher in Maryland is being investigated for the way he spoke to a 13-year-old girl who called for help after she saw her father get fatally hit by a car. Jason Carroll has the details.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can y'all please hurry up!
911 OPERATOR: Ma'am, stop yelling. I need a location.
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's how the 9-1-1 call started after a 13-year-old called Sunday night, her father and his fiancee had pulled over to change a tire on the side of a parkway. About 20 miles outside of Baltimore when suddenly a car hit them.
911 OPERATOR: OK, a person struck by a vehicle?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, yes.
911 OPERATOR: OK. So a car was driving down the road and struck two people?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, they did. They didn't stop. They just kept going.
CARROLL: The 9-1-1 operator's job is to keep a caller calm no matter what, especially when it's a child. But in this case, the operator does not ask the age of the caller. Instead refers to her as ma'am. He repeatedly asked about the condition of those hurt and their location and with each passing moment, appears to be losing patience.
911 OPERATOR: And are they breathing?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I think so. Can you all hurry up, please?
911 OPERATOR: Ma'am, listen, let's stop worrying about hurrying up and get there. We're already on our way. I need to find a better location.
CARROLL: While the family waited for help, the 13-year old's father Rick Worrick was unconscious and critically injured. His fiancee also badly hurt and unable to assist. Every second crucial.
911 OPERATOR: One of them is conscious? So two people were struck.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, they both laying - they just laying ...
911 OPERATOR: OK, let's stop whining. OK, let's stop whining. It's hard to understand you.
CARROLL: After the operator tells the girl to stop whining, he again tries to get a better sense of the condition of those hurt.
911 OPERATOR: Ma'am, I need you to walk up to these people and I need you to look and tell me what's going on with these people.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One of them is - they are just laying, my father is laying and they just laying here. They're just laying here. It's nothing. They just laying ...
911 OPERATOR: Is there someone else that I can talk to? Because it's so hard.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My little brother. It's only my little brother. I'm talking better than him right now.
CAPT. RUSS DAVIES, ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY FIRE DEPT.: It was not handled in a professional manner. It certainly didn't meet our expectations.
CARROLL: Fire department officials say their 9-1-1 operator should have shown more sensitivity.
DAVIES: Most people that listen to that tape and myself being included would not be how I would want to be treated if I called 9-1- 1.
CARROLL: Rick Warrick later died from his injuries, his fiancee still hospitalized, but expected to recover. Police now looking for the hit-and-run driver. As for the 9-1-1 operator, fire department officials say he has been moved to a position where he will not have contact with the public while they investigate what happened. Though it is possible he could go back to the job of answering 9-1-1 calls. Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.
COOPER: See what happens. Let's get the latest on other stories we are following. Randi Kaye is back with the "360 Bulletin." Randi. KAYE: Anderson, dozens of homes were inundated with flood water in a small town about 25 miles west of Seattle after a mud slide. Our affiliate KIRO reports officials in Brinnon, Washington went door to door to make sure everyone was out of the area.
Numbers from the World Health Organization show more than 100 countries including Zimbabwe, Iran and North Korea have higher measles immunization rates than the United States. The current measles outbreak has affected more than 100 people here in the U.S. And Vice President Joe Biden will not be attending Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to Congress next month. Biden's office says he will be traveling while Netanyahu is in Washington, Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Randi, thanks very much. That does it for us. "Voices of Auschwitz" hosted by Wolf Blitzer starts now.