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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Trump Widen Lead In New National Poll Of Republicans; Des Moines Register: Trump Should Drop W.H. Bid; MCCAIN: Trump Should Apologize To Military Families; Killer's Friend Speaks Out; Friend: Gunman Called ISIS A "Stupid Group"; Friend: Gunman Said ISIS Was "Against Islam"; Cheating Website Hacked; Hackers Threaten To Release Customer Information. Aired 9:00-10:00p ET.
Aired July 20, 2015 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN 360 HOST: Hey, good evening. It's 9:00 P.M. here in New York, and possibly a moment when public opinion is shifting on Donald Trump.
There is new polling showing him with nearly double the support of his closest Republican competitor. This is a new poll that just came out today.
However, in the portion of that polling conducted after he talked about Senator John McCain's war record, it does show a big drop-off. Will that hold? We don't know.
Bear in mind that this is a piece of a poll that in itself is a snapshot of a moment. Overall, the poll is very good. That number, that overall number is very good news for Donald Trump, it could also be the first sign that people may be taking issue with what Mr. Trump said at a candidate forum on Saturday.
Will it last? Again, we don't know. This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm referring to people as rapists, referring to John McCain a war hero, five and a half years as a POW and you call him a dummy. Is that appropriate in running for president?
Let's -- you got to let me speak though, Frank, because you interrupt all the time, OK? So, no, I know him too well that's the problem.
Let's take John McCain. I'm in Phoenix. We have a meeting that is going to have 500 people at the Biltmore Hotel.
We get a call from the hotel it is turmoil. Thousands and thousands of people are showing up three, four days before. They're pitching tents on the hotel grass. The hotel says, "We can't handle this. It's going to destroy the hotel." We move it to the convention center. We have 15,000 people, Jack (ph), the biggest one ever. Bigger than Bernie Sanders, bigger than a 15,000 people showed up to hear me speak, bigger than anybody and everybody knows it.
A beautiful day with incredible people that were wonderful great Americans, I will tell you. John McCain goes, "Oh boy, Trump makes my life difficult. He had 15,000 crazies show up." Crazies, he called them all crazy. I said, "They weren't crazy. They were great Americans. These people, if you were to seen these people, I know what a crazy is. I know all about crazies. These weren't crazies." So he insulted me. And he insulted everybody in that room. And I said, "Somebody should run against John McCain who has been, you know, in my opinion not so hot, and I supported him".
I supported him for president. I raised a million dollars for him. It's a lot of money. I supported him. He lost. He let us down. But, you know, he lost, so I've never liked him as much after that because I don't like losers. But, Frank, let me get to him.
FRANK: He is a war hero. He is a war hero.
TRUMP: He hit me. He's not a war hero. He is a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren't captured, OK? I hate to tell you.
FRANK: He's a war hero.
TRUMP: He's a war hero because he was captured, OK? And I believe, perhaps he is a war hero. But, right now, he said some very bad things about a lot of people.
COOPER: Senator McCain says Mr. Trump owes service members of vets an apology, particularly those who've been POWs. McCain's friend and former service member, Lindsey Graham was also running for president, tonight called his opponent, his words "a jackass."
Mr. Trump says it is Senator McCain who hasn't done right by vets. Our Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger joins us now so does our political commentator Ryan Lizza, was piece in the New Yorker Magazine and it appears to have denied Mr. Trump's ire with Senator McCain where that quote about "crazies".
Now Ryan, I know everyone talks how Donald Trump is playing by his own rules, he's not beholden to some sort of establishment playbook. But aren't there some third rails in politics, universal third rails. And one of them may be, or is it, questioning the heroism of a guy like John McCain?
RYAN LIZZA, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORKER: Yeah, without a doubt. That is the issue that prompted all of his Republican rivals to sort of finally step forward and condemn him. I do think it's fair to ask that, you know, why...
COOPER: Except for Cruz, I should say. LIZZA: Ted Cruz. I think Ted Cruz's strategy seems to be, you know, he wants to be Trump voter second choice when Trump inevitably flames out which sort of a lot of people think will happen although who knows that really will happen.
So you're right. Cruz praised McCain but he did not condemn Trump. That was how he sliced this. But you're absolutely right, Anderson. Going after John, I mean, when I conducted this interview in John McCain's office, and one of the things he did after the interview which he frequently does when he come to his office is he gave me a tour. Showed me the picture of when he was shot down out of the sky and the Vietnamese would bring him out of the lake and took a rifle butt and hit him.
He showed me the telegram from the U.S. to our diplomats over in Vietnam that showed that confirmed that McCain had actually refused to go home from his Vietnamese prison ahead of other prisoners because he thought it would be a propaganda victory. I mean, his credentials as a war hero are just unimpeachable. And that was the line that Trump crossed that just completely unsettled the Republican establishment.
[21:00:00] I do think it's fair to ask though why didn't something similar happen with the comments about Latin-American immigrants who he disparage many as rapist.
And I think it's fair to ask why it took this attack on veterans rather than that initial comment. And I think Republican should have to answer for that.
COOPER: Yes, for some illegal immigrants. Gloria, the Des Moines register newspaper in an editorial tonight, they're calling for Trump to drop out. Also, Trump was on Bill O'Reilly Show tonight, and Bill O'Reilly asked him, what he'd say directly to Senator McCain. How did Trump respond?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, Trump didn't apologize. He was given an opportunity to go as O'Reilly put it man- to-man. Talk to, you know, talk to Senator McCain, what would you say? And he sort of said something about whether if there was a misunderstanding, maybe and went on and on. But then went back to his point about how John McCain had insulted all of his supporters.
So, if anybody was expecting a direct apology from Donald Trump to John McCain? They didn't get it. And I think in response to the Des Moines register tonight, you know, why Trump is number two in Iowa, so far. And I think what Trump will probably say is that's the media talking to itself, right?
BORGER: It's an editorial that doesn't matter. And he'll, you know, he'll push ahead as the protest candidate that he is. And in a way that could actually fuel him.
COOPER: And Ryan, it is interesting, I mean, his refusal to apologize for virtually anything. I mean, I'd be interested to look back and see if he actually has ever apologized for something, he said he made a mistake. Because, you know, that is something -- and Rush Limbaugh actually kind of talked about today and praised today saying that that's how many candidates would. They immediately default to saying well I misspoke. That is just not Donald Trump.
LIZZA: It's not. And look, we're at that stage in the primary season where there is not a real high cost to a voter telling the pollster, "Yeah, I'm with Donald Trump. I would support him." It's very early in the process. And after six and a half years of Obama, Republicans and especially very Conservative Republicans, they're in a
fighting mood. They want someone who is very anti-Obama, is talking about immigration in a way that the Republican establishment has advised its candidates not to talk about.
And so I think what you're getting at is right, Anderson, that he is --the fact that he won't apologize, the fact that he doesn't back down even when the entire media establishment and political establishment argues he is wrong. It only makes him stronger and it's one of the things that people like about him.
BORGER: You know, the word you are using, establishment, is the key here. Because I don't think you can underestimate the appeal of an anti-Washington, anti-politician, anti-establishment, candidate right now. And it's a very big field. And Donald Trump stands out in that regard.
COOPER: Yeah. Ryan Lizza and Gloria Borger...
LIZZA: Can I?
COOPER: Yeah, go ahead, Ryan.
LIZZA: Yeah. I just going to throw one theory here. Look, when I went to interview McCain it was actually, I want to talk to him about foreign policy. He started the conversation with the remark about Trump firing up the crazies. And McCain has been around awhile. He's a pretty smart guy. I think he knew what he was doing here. I think he was -- I think he knew exactly the response that he would get.
COOPER: That's interesting. Ryan, it's good to have you on. It's fascinating stuff. And we have another one in New Yorker right now. Gloria, thank you.
Perspective now for Matt Miller, he is Chief Policy Officer for Iraq, and Afghanistan, and Veterans of America, a former legislative affairs aide to generals David Petraeus and Ray Odierno.
Matt, when you first heard Donald Trump's comments about John McCain, I'm wondering what you thought, what went through your mind?
MATTHEW MILLER, IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN VETERAN OF AMERICA: Well, the old adage that better to keep your mouth shut and let people know that you don't know what you're talking about rather than opening it and erasing all doubt came to mind. I thought it was an affront to everybody that has worn the uniform of the United States. And for my knowledge of John McCain, there is nothing further than the truth. COOPER: There are some photographs of you actually with Senator McCain. You helped coordinate his visits to Iraq and Afghanistan, when you were deployed overseas. I mean, Trump, one of the things he was quoted at saying at a press conference Saturday after the event where he made those remarks was that McCain, and I quote, "has not done enough for veterans in this country". And then Trump talking about himself said, "I see the veterans. I'm with the veterans all the time." Does that ring true to you in any way?
MILLER: Mr. Trump's business is about a mile and a half from IVA headquarters in New York City. We are the only veteran's organization headquarters in New York City and we have not heard from Donald Trump.
COOPER: As far as Senator McCain's record on veterans issues goes, I mean, you've worked with him. For Donald Trump to say that McCain is not a friend, or an advocate, or hasn't done enough for veterans. Is that in your opinion true at all?
MILLER: Well, that doesn't ring true at all, Anderson. I can tell you that the Clay Hunt Act, Clay Hunt Save Act passed Congress and was signed by the President.
[21:10:00] John McCain was an integral part in that and that may be the only piece of veteran's legislation that get signed into law by the President of United States this year.
COOPER: Donald Trump though has said he donated money to build the veteran's memorial New York. He helped put on a veterans parade. Does that say much to you?
MILLER: Well, I would -- I appreciate that. I appreciate his philanthropic efforts. But he is running for president of the United States. And need to talk about veterans issues as do all the candidates involved.
COOPER: But bottom line for you when Donald trump says that John McCain hasn't focused on veterans enough, hasn't done enough for veterans, you say that's patently false? Where -- how would you categorize it?
MILLER: I would say that John McCain has been an advocate for veterans throughout his service in Congress and through out his service in the senate. And, you know, I've seen firsthand knowledge, our first hand experience of John McCain out with the troops, wanting nothing but the best for them. And so, I would say that John McCain has lived his life again, service above self. And in that regard, he shouldn't take a back seat to anybody.
COOPER: Matt Miller, appreciate you're being on. Thank you, Matt.
MILLER: Thank you.
COOPER: Well, there's a lot more ahead tonight including a CNN exclusive that could shed new light on what turned a troubled young man into the Chattanooga killer.
COOPER: The families of the service members murdered in Chattanooga, Tennessee come to grieves with their loss.
A picture of their killer is coming into sharper focus. Now, it could provide insight into how troubled men and women become mass killers.
In this case, the man who took the lives of four marine and one sailor, Marine Gunnery Sergeant, Thomas Sullivan, Marine Staff Sergeant David Wyatt, Marine Sergeant Carson Holmquist, Navy Petty Officer Randall Smith and Marine Lance Corporal Squire Skip Wells, whose mom I just spoke to in the last hour.
He took his mom to Disney World just last week, a family tradition. It was the first time he took her, made all the reservations. The families -- for all of the families there is so much pain right now.
It is precisely because their lives matter that investigators want and need to know more about this killer's life leading up to what he did. Did he have contacts with any international groups? Was he self- radicalized? Was it something else?
More insight on that now from Senior Investigator Correspondent Drew Griffin who obtained an exclusive interview with a close friend of this killer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: James Petty considered Muhammad Abdulazeez as spiritual support in his recent conversion to Islam, constantly texting each other. They hiked the Appalachian Mountains, played sports, even slept over at Abdulazeez's home.
He says he never once saw Abdulazeez angry and the only conversations they had about radical Islam was to oppose it.
JAMES PETTY, GUNMAN'S FRIEND: Like ISIS mainly, like groups -- any terror groups kind of like ISIS.
GRIFFIN: What did he say?
PETTY: That it was a stupid group and it was completely against Islam. And not to even think about going towards them and I felt like it wasn't kind of in the sense of I'm with their group so I don't want you to do like me. It was more like just stay away. This is not where you should be going towards.
GRIFFIN: You've felt that he truly believed in his heart at that moment that what ISIS is doing was wrong?
PETTY: Yes, sir.
GRIFFIN: Petty describes Abdulazeez as more American than he was. And the self-described redneck Muslim also liked to shoot guns. PETTY: One day he said that he had a gun and that he was showing me pictures on his phone. And like, I never shot a gun before. And he was like, "Do you want to shoot this one?" And I said, "Sure." Like, honestly like I don't say why not. I never shot one.
GRIFFIN: The gun an AR-15 military style assault rifle like this one.
PETTY: He told me where the safety was. He taught me how to put it together. He taught me not to point it at people. Just have it always down. And he showed me how to shoot it.
GRIFFIN: And was he a good shot?
PETTY: He was.
GRIFFIN: Contrary to reports from the Abdulazeez's family that their son was battling depression, Petty says he never saw it.
PETTY: The depression is a big surprise to me because he showed no signs of that towards me. He was always happy with me, always had something really nice to say. He never showed any type of anger like not once was he -- did I ever see him angry.
GRIFFIN: They last met Friday, July 10th at this mosque, days before the shooting.
PETTY: He was happier than ever. He had a like, it was the biggest smile on his face he ever had.
GRIFFIN: With investigators still searching for answers, so are Abdulazeez's friend and wondering if they really knew this person at all.
PETTY: He did, in a horrible way. And this -- that what he did is not Islamic, not at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And Drew joins us. Now, I mean I guess the question, was this is a snap or was this something longer more planned? Do we know, I mean his friends are saying one thing, what's the latest you're hearing from the investigators? What are they finding out about this guy?
GRIFFIN: Anderson, the investigators to date have not found anything. We are told that suggests this was ISIS-related, ISIS-inspired or had anything to do with radical Islam being involved with this. What they have found are old writings which were anti-U.S. policy in the Middle East. But those writings, some more than a year ago now, also include writings that we are told point to some body who is suicidal.
So we have this confusing picture. Nothing that was written in the last week or anything that would explain what happened here. And that's why this investigation continues. Today, we heard nothing officially from investigators, quite frankly because they had nothing to say.
COOPER: All right, Drew, I appreciate that.
[21:20:00] Digging deeper now, CNN Terrorism Analyst Paul Cruickshank, also CNN National Security Analyst and former Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security Juliette Kayyem.
Paul, I mean I get -- you hear from the shooter's friend. The family initially had said well, he suffered from depression. Plenty of people have depression don't end up killing marines and a sailor. We know he made this trip overseas. Drew is saying no information about actual contacts with any groups but perhaps, self-radicalized, inspired by things he saw on the internet.
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, I think today it's becoming increasingly clear that he was radicalized to a certain degree. Of course, there are these conflicting accounts but the family is like Gary Tuchman was reporting, you know, that he was animated by an evil ideology, animated by extremist ideas. So clearly, the family knew that he had some kind of radicalization. There were also those blog entries which were sympathetic at the very least towards the idea of jihad.
COOPER: Right. And Juliette, I mean, again and again, we're seeing these cases where -- and I mean this is nothing new where even if it turns out he had no contact with any groups even when he was in Jordan. That doesn't really matter anymore. I mean a lot of the people who end up doing this don't necessarily need that kind of direct contact.
JULIETTE KAYYEM, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Right. And that's what's so disturbing about the case is that, it seems so familiar in some ways and yet what we're finding out in the last five or six days, it's so inconclusive, somewhat unsatisfactory. And I often think, you know, when tragedy happens people in government, you know, you look for silver linings, something to learn from this, something so that government can do better and I'm kind of worried now that this may be a case study of one, right? That this is such a odd case given the sort of speculation or evidence that we have now including, you know, mental disorder, not strong ties to any group that we know of, no strong social media presence just these little pieces of evidence that don't amount too much except for mass murder.
COOPER: And Paul in a way that's almost more frightening that there is not trail.
CRUICKSHANK: Well absolutely. You know no trail that they picked up on so far at least.
CRUICKSHANK: But there have been a string of cases, terror plots, terror attacks in the west in recent months where there has been this combination between mental health issues on the one hand and radicalization...
CRUICKSHANK: ... on the other hand. We saw that with that hostage attack in Sydney, Australia, late last year where the hostage taker was somebody who was actually seeing two psychiatrists in the lead up to the attack. He was paranoid. He was delusional. We also saw that with the shooting in Ottawa outside the parliament and also the hatchet attack in New York City recently where there was mental health issues in all these cases and a mix between that and radicalization.
COOPER: So one doesn't necessarily rule out the other.
CRUICKSHANK: One doesn't necessarily rule out the other. And when people have these sort of mental health issues, people can move more easily from radical thought to radical action. Some of the inhibitions against violence can go away.
COOPER: And Juliette, I mean, again, you know, it is scary if you one cannot or investigators cannot pinpoint any group that he could have been affiliated with. And this is all some sort of self- radicalization or some of sort of mental illness leading to self- radicalization, or the appeal of an extremist ideology.
The idea that it, I mean, it makes harder to prevent other incidents like this from occurring there is less breadcrumbs...
KAYYEM: Yeah. Let's be clear here. It's not -- it's almost impossible to prevent. I mean the combination of in this instance at least mental health, access to arms, some radicalization, and something going on with the family that we're starting to hear about.
You know, it's just -- the pieces are so unique that they drive one person to commit a mass murder. They drive other people to seek therapy or, you know, not be violent. And that's the scary thing about where we are now.
There is just simply no sort of definitive statement of what we can say about what's happening...
COOPER: All right.
KAYYEM: ... with these lone wolf attacks.
COOPER: Yeah. Well, let's hope they find out more. Juliette Kayyem great to have you on, Paul Cruickshank as well.
Coming up, it could be very bad news for 37 million customers who signed up for a dating website that caters to married people. Its slogan is "Life is short, have an affair."
Hackers have gotten in and they were threatening a big move. That's next.
COOPER: The dating website that caters a married people want to have affairs has hired an I.T. Security team trying to unerring a potentially disastrous bell. Hackers are threatening to reveal the names of the sites customers. Tens of millions of cheaters or at least would be cheaters.
Randi Kaye has the story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't wait up.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If you have ever used this website to hook up, you might have some explaining to do.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Office romance too risky? You should have used AshleyMadison.com.
KAYE: The website AshleyMadison.com helps arrange sex partners so married people can cheat. And now those cheaters have been exposed. A hacking group calling itself "The Impact Team" says it stole personal information including names of 37 million Ashley Madison subscribers.
And for about an hour and a half, several thousand people were viewable online.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not going to be home for dinner, sorry.
KAYE: Ashley Madison's slogan is, "Life is short have an affair." So just imagine what kind of personal information its clients may have shared. Sexual preferences, fantasies, fetishes, all from people looking for sex who never dreamed such juicy data could get into the hands of hackers.
JOSEPH LOOMIS, FOUNDER AND CEO OF CYBERSPONSE: This is a very good example of what type of naiveness in the market there is around personal data. Especially setting yourself up for blackmail, for public humiliation, for a P.R. nightmare.
KAYE: Avid Life Media which owns Ashley Madison released a statement promising that it has once again secured the site. The company also says they have removed any personally identifiable information about its users published online.
The hackers may be trying to punish the cheating website which they say charges users a $19 fee to delete personal information that isn't actually deleted. The hacking group argues
users almost always pay with credit cards so the purchase details are in truly removed as promised. The hackers say Ashley Madison netted $1.7 million in revenue in 2014 just from the charges its customers pay to delete their data. The impact group is now threatening to release customer's secret sexual fantasies and matching real names unless Ashley Madison is taken off-line permanently. A manifesto posted online by the hackers calls Ashley Madison users, cheating dirt bags, and warns a significant percentage of the population is about to have a very bad day, including many rich and powerful people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And Randi joins us now. What did the company said about the $19 fee?
KAYE: Well, they're fighting back. The company is reiterating that this pay delete option really does work that they do wipe clean personal information, pictures, text messages whatever might be sent but to make good with subscribers Anderson they're offering the pay delete option for free. Which I think with the threat of exposure a lot of people will jump on that.
COOPER: Certainly. Randi, thanks very much. That does it for us. We'll see you again at 11:00 p.m. eastern for another edition of 360.
The CNN special report "It's a Miracle: Autumn's Incredible Survivor Story," starts now.
AUTUMN VEATCH, PLANE CRASH SURVIVOR: My grandparents offered to fly me because it would be faster and more convenient.
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Her first trip on a private plane.
VEATCH: We just went up and I was like that was fast. That was easy.
SIDNER: Becomes sheer terror.
VEATCH: There was a light and then it was all trees and then it was all fire.
SIDNER: A fatal crash.
VEATCH: All I could smell was my hand burning and I could smell my hair burning.
SIDNER: A sole survivor.
VEATCH: I was trying to pull them out and I just couldn't do it.
SIDNER: And the desperate fight to stay alive.
VEATCH: There's no way I'm going to let myself die like this.
SIDNER: How did she do it?
Did you think at some point, "I am not going to make it? I am going to die?"
Tonight, a CNN Special Report, "It's a Miracle." 16-year-old, Autumn Veatch, is a young woman going through typical teenage angst. But she found things she loved, her art, her friends, her music and going on social media on her phone. But in an instant, Autumn's life became unimaginable.
I came here to Bellingham, Washington to talk to her about the tragic plane crash and her amazing journey to safety.
Can you tell me how it came to past that you ended up going flying with your step grandparents?
VEATCH: Well, I was visiting my mom in Montana and I was trying to find a way back and my grandparents they offered to fly me, because, you know, it would be faster and more convenient so I was like, "OK, sounds good."
SIDNER: Their Beechcraft A35 plane roared to life. Autumn's step grandparents were up front.
How close were you with them?
VEATCH: I mean I met them probably two years ago when my mom and their son got married and they've been nothing but absolutely kind to me. During the visit I was having with my mom, I stayed with them for a few days. We went and saw movies together and I stayed at their house for a few nights.
SINDER: Leland Bowman was at the controls, his wife Sharon beside him.
Had you ever flown in an aircraft of that size before?
VEATCH: Not of that size. I mean, a good while ago I was in some commercial flights to go to Arizona. But it was that.
SINDER: When you first took off, in a small plane it feels different, doesn't it?
SINDER: When you first got on a plane and took off, what was the sensation like for you?
VEATCH: We just went up and I was like, "Oh, that was fast. That was easy." We took off so fast. I was like, "OK, here we go."
SINDER: What did you see as you were flying along with your grandparents?
VEATCH: A lot of trees, a lot of mountains. I was texting my friends like, "I'm on my way home. I can't wait to see you guys."
SINDER: And she was posting pictures. This is Autumn on the plane.
And I know that you sent a text to your boyfriend. What did that text say? VEATCH: Well, when we started hitting some turbulence and stuff, I
mean I was anxious about flying in the first place. And so I was like joking. And I was like, "Oh if I die, just remember I love you."
[21:35:00] SINDER: Her boyfriend didn't find that funny. But no worries, they had planned to see each other soon.
Once you made that text, how long after that did the plane actually start having some problems and you start noticing there is a real issue here?
VEATCH: Maybe around 20 minutes. I mean it wasn't much longer. I mean there was probably one text after that and now it's just me like telling him that I was trying to find the address for the airport because he was supposed to pick me up from the airport and I was like, I will get the address. And then I just never responded.
SINDER: And the plane never made it. At 3:21, the plane dropped off the radar.
VEATCH: You're kind of, you know, flying through mountains and stuff because you couldn't go very high because it's a small plane, and you aren't supposed to do that I guess and we couldn't go like above the cloud. Then we can't see down.
SINDER: And then a close call, a near crash.
VEATCH: We almost crashed the first time we went through some clouds. But he took like a sharp turn and it was like, "Whew, that was a close one" and I was like holding on to the back of the seat for dear life OK.
SINDER: You were nervous, getting scared.
VEATCH: I was scared, yeah and I figured we'd be OK but it got way too cloudy. We would drop a few feet and it was wrong. That was part of the turbulence kind of the bumpiness like we would just drop a few feet. We completely lost sight of what was going on at all like all of the windows, you couldn't see a single thing. It was all white. And GPS wasn't really working.
And I was kind of freaking out really bad and I just kind of hunched down a little bit because I was scared and I was like, "Hey, well, they'll, sort it out. It will be OK." But I am still panicking, freaking out. And then they both started freaking out kind of yelling like, "Turn the GPS back on." And Leland said that he was just going to go up. They would just try to fly up.
SINDER: Panic turned to doom quickly.
VEATCH: Because they went it on. He is like we're going to crash into the side of the mountain. I can't see anything that is going on.
SINDER: Tell me what you remember of the sensation of actually going down in an airplane?
VEATCH: We started to go up and then there was a light and then it was all trees and then it was all fire.
SINDER: Next, the unthinkable. Autumn's grandparents trapped inside the plane.
VEATCH: I was obviously scared to be alone in the middle of absolutely nowhere.
SIDNER: In the wilderness, hurt and stunned, 16-year-old Autumn Veatch found herself alive inside the burning wreckage of the small plane she just had been riding in. But staying alive would mean quick thinking and finding the courage she never knew she had.
VEATCH: I was seat belted in. I was in the back. You were supposed to climb in through the front doors. I don't know how I got out (ph). There might have been like a hole in the side or something that I climbed out of.
SIDNER: Once you were down on the ground. The plane had crashed. It was on fire. What did you do then? What did you see around you?
VEATCH: I just -- I got out. Its fire like, that's huh my face got burned. And like my hair is burning and stuff.
SIDNER: But she says her grandparents were trapped.
VEATCH: My immediate response was to go and try to help them out. And I was -- like there was no way I could get to grandma because she was on the far side. And there's nothing I could do. I assumed if I got grandpa out first and maybe she would come out. But I was trying to pull him out. And I just couldn't do it like there was a lot of fire. And I was a small person. That's what happened to my hand. I was trying to pull him out but there was a point where it was like, "Oh, it is just not happening." And there is nothing I could do.
SIDNER: Leiland and Sharon Bowman perished inside the plane. And it would take a miracle for Autumn to make it. How did you go forward from that point?
VEATCH: My instinct was to go downhill just so I started going downhill. I mean -- I was obviously distressed, crying, and really scared to be alone in the middle of absolutely nowhere. I didn't know where I was. I don't know what city it was and I still really don't.
SIDNER: Do you have anything to help you survive?
VEATCH: I wasn't carrying a single thing.
SIDNER: What was around you?
VEATCH: Just trees, trees and trees and trees. I couldn't see anything. I couldn't really see the sky at that time. I was like I should listen for a freeway or highway or whatever. I should listen for, you know anything, anything. But I couldn't find anything. And I was just running and tripping. I fell so many times and I ended up falling off the side of a cliff.
SIDNER: How far did you fall?
VEATCH: I'm not positive. It really just kind of stunned me for a second.
SIDNER: Then the discovery that saved her life.
VEATCH: I got to keep moving. And then shortly after I found the start of that stream that I followed for the rest of the way.
SIDNER: Burned and shaken, she was still in shock.
VEATCH: It was a lot of adrenaline. It was adrenaline kind of pushing me forward and the reason I wasn't feeling my hand burning and feeling everything that was happening.
SIDNER: What was your body like physically? What kind of problems were you dealing with?
VEATCH: The thing I was thinking about most was my hand because it was blistering and I never seen anything like and all I could smell was my hand burning. And I could smell my hair burning and my face hurt.
SIDNER: And so did her heart.
VEATCH: I was blaming myself for what happened to my grandparents and...
SIDNER: Why were you blaming yourself?
VEATCH: Because you know -- I mean I tried to help but I couldn't and it hurts not being able to help because they did matter a lot to me.
[21:45:00] And there was a lot of remorse and sad feelings and stuff.
SIDNER: She was soaking wet and freezing from the cold.
VEATCH: That first day a lot of crying. And, I mean, as soon as it started getting dark I was thinking like I should find a place to sleep. So, I found a place that kind of was like indented that I could kind of climb into a little bit and just slept on the ground. It started getting really dark so I was thinking like I need to find a way to get warmer so I put my knees up to my chest and just like put my head down in my knees and wrapped my arms around and used my breath to keep myself warm.
SIDNER: Did you actually sleep at all, those two nights in the wilderness?
VEATCH: I -- It's hard to say because there was so much in my mind and I can't tell if I was dreaming or if I was just thinking really hard because it was really impossible to sleep. But I'm sure there was some kind of unconscious state.
SIDNER: It was the second day of her trek.
VEATCH: Things started to look a little bit hopeless for me. Like, what are the odds, I'm just some 16-year-old girl like in the middle of absolutely nowhere. And I just started getting really hopeless.
SIDNER: Did you think at some point, I'm not going to make it. I am going to die?
VEATCH: I was certain I was going to die at the second day I was living outside (ph), I was certain I would die of hypothermia because I was freezing. And it just didn't seem likely that I would make it.
SIDNER: Up next. Autumn's incredible survival instincts kicked in.
VEATCH: I don't know where it came from.
SIDNER: All the odds were stacked against her. Autumn Veatch had survived the plane crash but she was lost in the remote wilderness without any of the tools she needed to survive. Time was running out.
What was some of thoughts coming to you?
VEATCH: I just started getting really hopeless, and was just freezing. And I was like, well, I'm going to die of hypothermia like that's obviously what's going to happen. Before dehydration or starving or anything gets to me, it's going to be me freezing to death because it was so cold. I was just so positive I was going to die and it made me really sad because there's -- I started thinking about all the things that mattered so much to me that I didn't realize mattered before and...
SIDNER: Like what? What were some of the things that came to you?
VEATCH: Just little things. These little things that you don't realize that you love, like -- like your pets, or your favorite songs. Or, you know, family, friends. I was just thinking about everything, and how I would end up dying without ever actually telling anybody how much they actually meant to me and stuff.
SIDNER: And there was that last text she sent to her boyfriend.
VEATCH: I would leave my boyfriend on this, you know, weird cliffhanger joke thing where I was just being funny about dying and stuff.
SIDNER: And she had regret about how she left things with other people she loved.
VEATCH: Now it's nothing I texted anybody and how irrelevant it all was and just got super sad and just thinking of -- there is no way I can die feeling like this, this isn't unfair at all and I just -- a lot of crying, a lot crying. And then I just, I don't know where it came from, but I just got like this huge boost of, like motivation. It's like it went from me being sad about those things to me being like angry about them like that's not fair at all. I mean, I'm not the best person ever, but I don't deserve to die like this. Like, there's no way I'm going to let myself die like this, like I have to move. I'm not going to let myself die like this. This isn't unfair and it's not cool at all.
SIDNER: Wet, cold, injured, the sole survivor of a fatal plane crash, Autumn Veatch picked herself up and started walking. She remembered T.V. survival shows she watched with her dad growing up.
VEATCH: You got to just follow running water down and it always leads to civilization.
SIDNER: It was harder but (ph) it sounds like.
VEATCH: Just crossing that river over and over and over again was so difficult. It's really slippery and I just got dragged down a little a bit and had to get up.
SIDNER: But she kept on going.
VEATCH: And, as I was walking, I was thinking, "Huh, you know, what it suck like its really bad? If there was waterfalls."
SIDNER: Then a sound off in the distance.
VEATCH: What's that sound? Is that a freeway? I just kept walking and I thought it's just a drop and I thought that's a waterfall like a, it's a waterfall it's a waterfall. I don't know what to do.
SIDNER: But she did know one thing for certain, she wasn't giving up.
VEATCH: I sat down and like mentally prepared myself for a minute like how am I going to get down either side of this? There's really anything to grab onto. There is not any way to get around and it stuff and I can't lose the stream because that's -- that's my way out, you know?
[21:55:00] So I just decided to scale down one side of the thing and I made it I mean I made it down and it was about 20 feet.
SIDNER: In your converse, in your leggings, you had...
VEATCH: In my burned up pants. Yeah. I made it down though and it was just a huge relief.
SIDNER: Can you yourself believe that you are here and still alive after all of that?
VEATCH: Well, I mean, I don't know. It's weird. It's weird to fully -- I mean, I never thought that I had it in me to go through all that stuff. I'm kind of a huge whim.
SIDNER: A huge whim who surprised herself with her own determination and will to fight.
VEATCH: I'm the kind of person who struggled with, you know, finding a will to live and stuff. And, I mean, I'm a sad 16-year-old.
SIDNER: A lot of 16-year-olds or people in general, they struggle with things like depression. They struggle with being negative. Did you have those struggles?
VEATCH: Yeah, yeah, really badly. I struggled with those things every day. Everything I said was negative.
SIDNER: But now, even in the most negative of situations, lost in the woods, she found a way to keep going.
Tell me what the moment was when you realized, I'm out -- I've made it out?
VEATCH: I saw a bridge. I saw a bridge and like my heart dropped and it was like, is this real? Am I hallucinating or something? Like am I going crazy, what's up? And I went up to it and there was a trail leading off the bridge and I walked up it and found a parking lot and there was one car there, there's nobody by it. I didn't see anybody.
SIDNER: Finally, a road where she tried to flagged somebody for help.
Are you waving people down telling them please stop?
VEATCH: Yeah. I was out there for like an hour and it's like a freeway. There are so many people and everybody just ignored me. Nobody even slowed down.
SIDNER: Autumn had hit her limit.
VEATCH: And I was sitting up there by the sign, leaning against it and that's when my muscles started to shutdown like it hurt so bad just sitting still.
SIDNER: She was feeling the effects of dehydration, muscle damage, and despair, but then a glimmer of hope.
VEATCH: A red car pulled in, and there were two guys and I started crying and I was like "Oh my gosh, there's somebody here."
SIDNER: They agreed to drive her to the nearest convenience store and she called 911.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, tell me exactly what happened.
VEATCH: I was riding from Kalispell, Montana to Bellingham, Washington, and about -- well, I don't know where, but we crashed and I was the only one that made it out.
SIDNER: When you made that call, you sounded unbelievably calm, were you?
VEATCH: I wasn't calm. I was in shock. I mean, listening to that sound so -- it haunts me now, that makes me feel so weird. I keep...
SIDNER: How come?
VEATCH: It seems like I wasn't feeling calm. I was -- I mean, I had spent three days, like, out like sobbing and freaking out like I just -- was so still and just kind of everything hurt and I just didn't have the energy to cry more and to whatever, you know? I just -- and I was kind of grieving in the way I do which isn't, you know, it takes a while. It's very personal. And I was just wanting somebody to come get me. I just wanted to go to the hospital. I was -- I was in so much pain.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to send someone out to come help you there at the Mazama Store, just don't go anywhere, OK?
SIDNER: In the ambulance, Autumn called her dad.
VEATCH: He was happy like -- he was super relieved and excited and happy.
SIDNER: It seems like a miracle.
DAVID VEATCH, AUTUMN'S FATHER: There is no way I cannot believe in God.
SIDNER: Even seasoned search-and-rescue workers were in awe.
LT. COL. JEFFERY LUSTICK, ASSISTANT LEGAL OFFICER, CIVIL AIR PATROL PACIFIC REGION: It is a miracle. It is definitely a miracle that she survived and we're so happy about it.
SHERIFF FRANK ROGERS, OKANOGAN COUNTY SHERIFF: I'll say this (ph). From all of us here we're just impressed with her. She's kind of like a super hero.
SIDNER: I mean everyone is talking about how impossible the scenario was, and you made it.
VEATCH: I don't know how. I have no idea. I mean, it's impressive.
SIDNER: Autumn was finally reunited with her friends and family in the hospital and is home, healing, but everything is different.
It's like this has really changed you.
VEATCH: It really has. I mean beforehand very -- I'm a very introverted person. I'm very shy, very quiet, and relatively negative, but this really gave me a new found respect for life like I have never loved being alive more, and to having a second chance to be grateful and happy.