tv The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN April 6, 2012 4:00pm-6:00pm EDT
turn things over to joe johns in "the situation room." now, breaking news. a navy jet slams into apartments in virginia beach sending flames and black smoke into the air. the two crew members ejected and survive. an urgent search is under way on the ground. you'll hear gripping accounts by witnesses, one who saw a parachute deploy from the stricken jet and rushed to the horrific crash scene. another who found a pilot, his parachute hanging from the apartment building and more trouble for marion barry, the d.c. city councilman and former mayor who was once caught on tape smoking crack. now he makes shocking remarks about asian-owned businesses. wolf blitzer is off. i'm joe johns. you're in "the situation room." -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com >> breaking news, a horrifying scene in a crowded apartment complex in virginia beach as a navy jet crashes into buildings
there, shooting flames and thick, black smoke into the sky. the crew members ejected and were taken to the hospital. now an urgent effort to account for all of the people on the ground. our brian todd has the very latest details. brian, what do we know? >> joe, the very latest from fire and rescue officials in virginia beach, we know that at least six people have been injured. that includes the two crew members, four others on the ground injured and taken to local hospitals and at least one of them is a policeman treated for smoke inhalation. these injuries not believed to be life-threatening. i'll show you some of the pictures and the horrific-looking pictures and we'll talk location. you see some of the pictures of the aftermath and the aerial view of this apartment complex that the f/a-18d fighter jet from oceana naval air station crashed into. this occurred just after noon according to navy officials at about 12:30 p.m., virginia transportation department cameras showed some of the images that you're seeing here. thick, black smoke emanating from the scene.
now let's talk location. we have a map here and we'll play this for you here. this is oceana naval air station in virginia beach. it's about two miles from oceana to this apartment complex. now what we are told from the local battalion chief there is that there are about eight apartments to each building in this complex, and that at least five buildings were hit. from our own forensic view from this from the aerial footage, we know at least these four building here, one, two, three and four were hit. this one looks to be a part of a fifth one here, but crews are combing through this neckage now, getting an assessment and, please, we have to caution you the early assessments on injuries and casualties are very early in the process. they are combing through this wreckage right now. this complex on the mayfair mews complex two miles from the oceana air station from virginia beach. now we'll show you where this is in relation to the atlantic ocean to virginia beach.
we'll continue playing our google earth map here, zooming back here, about a mile and maybe even less from the beach here, virginia beach and downtown virginia beach right about here. also worth noting that this is the area of spring break, early april, late march. spring break going on and a lot of vacationers in virginia beach and when you talk about what could have potentially happened here, a frightening story. virginia beach fire department, his main concern right now, and you can see it in the video, his main concern are the fibers from the smoke. top priority, he says is containing the smoke. we just heard a witness on our air say he came upon the scene fairly early and he said it was the thick, oily smoke and he said if you've been in this area and you've been around some of these mishaps with these fighter jets you know that's a very distinctive type of smoke that you can inhale and it can be very damaging. also worth noting, joe, one witness named amy miller was on
our air a short time ago. she said she works just around the corner from this apartment building where this happened. she said she saw flames underneath the right wing of this f/a-18d fighter jet as it was coming down. she also then heard two explosions. she also told us there is a school nearby. so again, when you talk about that school nearby that was avoided, the potential casualties in the downtown virginia beach area, you realize just how frightening an incident this was, but again, early assessment on casualties, six people hurt including the two crew members taken to area hospitals. one of them, we are told, is a policeman treated for smoke inhalation, again, a very early assessment of those injuries. this could very well change in the coming hours, joe. >> brian, just taking everything that you're reported here and putting it together, it sounds like that kind of smoke would make it very difficult for the authorities to get any kind of door-to-door assessment of who might still have been inside the
building. that is correct. >> police are going around to other buildings in the area looking to see who was home and who might have been around at the time, but you can see from this video that we're seeing here, a lot of these buildings and the things that the fire crews are actually having to touch and sift through, still just incredibly hot to the touch. you've got foam there and not clear exactly how dangerous that might be to navigate through, but the smoke inhalation, we heard it from tom riley, the battalion chief from the virginia beach fire department say his top priority is containing the smoke. his main worry is the carbon fibers from the smoke being inhaled from people around that area and that includes the first responders who are risking their lives just going through this trying to find people. very early in the process still, joe, and still clearly, harrowing images we are seeing here. >> very difficult to assess before how long it will be before they enter and try to get that assessment. >> it's probably several hours before it's safe to enter some of the areas that were hardest
hit by this crash. you have smoldering smoke and flames around this apartment complex. it does look like a fairly small area contained, but you have two or three floors of these buildings and five buildings were hit. one of them looked like it was completely devastated and it looked like it had been gutted and it was very hard to assess who was in there at the time and as you said, it might take hours for them to sift through it. >> great reporting there. thanks so much. stay on the story, brian, and we will definitely be getting back to you. let's turn now to cnn pentagon correspondent barbara starr who has been all over the story since it broke. barbara, this is an area where the navy has a very large presence. watching that, do you have any updated developments from the pentagon? >> well, that's right, joe. i think the question a lot of people are asking as you point out, large presence, what was this aircraft doing flying over a residential area? the navy operates an f/a-18
training unit in oceana, and what they do is they train for carrier landings where they get enough training on land and then they go out to sea and they learn how to land and take off from an aircraft carrier at sea and then they are off to war over the last ten years. so there have been a number of flights in the oceana area. some residents had been talking today about seeing more flights in recent weeks. in fact, they are seeing more flights because one of the airfields that they have used south of town has been closed for maintenance, so they are doing more flights at oceana, but for years now they have operated in and out of oceana even with the development growing around the region. so what happened today, very unusual and very difficult situation in a populated area. this aircraft ran into trouble within seconds of takeoff. it impacted the ground, hit the ground about two miles off the runway. that gave the pilots very little
time to react, perhaps just a few seconds. they were able to eject most likely at a very low altitude and of course, as we've talked about all day, military pilots are very trained to try and steer away from civilian areas in the united states where they're operating. they do everything they can, no matter what is going on in an emergency, to try to steer clear. by all accounts today they tried to avoid that school and thankfully, at least the early reports only some people hurt, but those search parties go on, joe. >> obviously, this is something that people don't normally think about, but a low-level ejection from a fighter jet could certainly cause tremendous hazards. can you talk about that a little bit? >> oh, absolutely. this is not, you know, ejecting from your fighter jet at the best of times is an extremely dangerous procedure especially in combat which is what it is designed for, basically.
you have a rocket charge under your seat and you pull the handle and the cockpit cover flies away and you are basically launched into the air at an altitude that you then deploy your parachute and you are able to float down to the ground, but if you're going to have to eject at a low altitude you don't have that parachute distance to float down. so the pilots were at tremendous risk. a very unusual procedure if that's how it all unfolded and basically, a very significant damage on the ground. there would have been damage anyhow, but they didn't have time to dump all their fuel, clearly, and that's what you began to see unfold on the ground. the fire, the fuel damage and the debris field spread out over such a large area because the plane, by all accounts, never really achieved any altitude. it just went straight in. joe? >> barbara starr, thanks for that and we'll be looking to you for future developments.
let's turn now to a witness. she says she was watching the jet in the sky when it crashed, and we want to talk to you a little bit. are you on the phone there? >> yep. i'm here. >> joanna hyatt, you were there with your 2-year-old child and you were watching this thing and pointing it out to her, but you didn't think this was some type of a plane in distress. talk to me a little bit about that. >> that's right. i was pointing the fighter out to my daughter, and i immediately saw the pilot eject. i saw the parachute and at that point didn't pay much attention to the jet itself, in fact, i don't really recall what i saw as far as the plane was concerned. i watched the pilot go down and immediately afterward, ten second, a black plume of smoke came up. that's when i thought something was awry and i realized something must have gone wrong and the pilot was ejecting. i was with friends who lived in the house where i was taking the
photo from and they said that's not routine at all and with fighter jets in the air, they began circling around and the smoke started billowing up pretty quickly. at that point about -- this is about 30 seconds after i heard -- we heard an explosion, but nothing that would indicate anything that crashed. i mean, that's why i never thought anything was wrong. there was never any impact or noise so i didn't hear anything. we realized something was wrong. we jumped into the car and drove around the corner to the apartment complex. she lived 300 meters from there and that's when we saw lots of black smoke and the entire building that we came up to had been already engulfed and it was strange to see that it was so filled with smoke so quickly. >> miss hyatt, as i understand it, you took a picture with your iphone while you were watching this plane. how close were you? we do have other reports earlier
on cnn that someone saw fire under the right wing of the plane shortly before it crashed. did you see anything like that? >> no. no, nothing like that. there were multiple fighter jets in the sky. that one was definitely much lower. maybe that's why it caught my attention. even when i saw the parachute come out and -- i never saw no fire, no flash. nothing. >> what was going through your head? >> well, you know, i was excited that katie, my daughter, could see the parachute. i don't know if she really caught that part or not, but as soonsa the smoke came up it was definitely a feeling in the pit of my stomach that something wasn't right although i still was questioning if it was nothing major because i hadn't heard any impact. i hadn't felt anything so i had no cause to be seriously alarmed, but as soon as we heard the minor explosion and then approached the apartment building in the car we knew things were seriously wrong. >> how much do you know about
the area? is it your understanding that on a typical day people will be inside those buildings? >> you know, i'm not from here so i don't know much about the area, but the friend that i was visiting, the first thing that she was saying when we approached was that it was spring break. she knows that apartment complex fairly well. it's a worldwide mix of people, a lot of families and it was spring break occurring and there were more apt to be people at home. we saw people runing to the buildings and there were no firemen, no rescue workers and we were all concerned that were there people able to get out and was there help on the scene? it was a little disturbing. >> absolutely. we've seen a lot of pictures there of people in the area apparently helping the authorities. thanks so much miss highet. >> you're welcome. >> we are glad that you're safe there. >> thank you. fascinating and a good sign at least for now that authorities are saying no one was killed in this horrible
accident, though, using brian todd's caution, still very, very early there on the scene and the authorities have not been able to go door to door and find out what's what. we'll hear from more witnesses including a man who found one of the ejected crew members on his back porch. and another man who saw the crew eject and found one of the seats. plus, what's a pilot supposed to do in a crisis like this? we'll talk to a former navy pilot about emergency protocols. if there was a pill to help protect your eye health as you age... would you take it? well, there is. [ male announcer ] it's called ocuvite. a vitamin totally dedicated to your eyes, from the eye-care experts at bausch + lomb. as you age, eyes can lose vital nutrients. ocuvite helps replenish key eye nutrients. [ male announcer ] ocuvite has a unique formula not found in your multivitamin to help protect your eye health. now, that's a pill worth taking.
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ejected crew members landed on his back porch. check this out. >> i was in the apartment, and i heard this pretty big, loud booms, so i got up from the couch and went to my back door and when i looked out i saw a pilot on the ground, parachute hanging from the building, facial lacerations, and i ran outside to see what i could do to help him. i'm retired rescue, and i didn't know the plane had hit the building until i saw the smoke. we had to get a bunch of neighbors together to get them out of the area and pick him up and take him to safety. >> was he able to speak at all? was he saying anything? >> he apologized very much for hitting our complex. i said don't worry about it. everything will be fine. let's get you out of here and get you to safety. >> were you able to move him without any issue?
>> no, like i said, i'm retired rescue. he was in shock, still strapped to his seat, so a bunch of neighbors, we just picked him up and dragged him to the other side of the parking lot away from the fire until rescue could get on the scene. >> there was a second person in the aircraft. did you see the second person come out? >> we did not see the second pilot, and i didn't know exactly where the plane had crashed, but i knew we had gas lines in the building, so we had to get -- get him away from where we were. i kept hearing secondary explosions going off. i don't know if that was fuel, gas lines in the apartment or what. i knew we had to leave. >> reporter: so when the pilot came down he was still strapped to his ejection seat? >> still strapped to his chute and the seat. >> that's unusual because they generally separate from those. they were taken off. >> he had something on his lower half of his body, something heavy because he was heavy.
>> reporter: and you and some neighbors were able to get him out. >> we were able to pick him up and dragged him on the other side of my apartment complex away from the flames until we could get more people -- ems on the scene to strap him up and take him out. >> another witness who lives very close to the scene of the crash tells what it was like when the plane went down. >> i was actually in the house. my wife had come out to just check to see what the weather was like outside, and when she walked outside of the condo she heard -- she heard the jet, and then just saw it almost fall out of the sky. it did come down with its nose up and it was almost at a -- at an angle pointing towards us. the actual crash site is probably 75 yards from where we are and the ejection seat came
over. it hit one of the oak trees and took a few branches off of that and then it slammed into our fence at the condo and went through the fence into the home next door. >> so what are the protocols when a fighter jet is in danger of crashing? i'll ask a former navy pilot exactly what happens in an emergency like this. everyone in america depends on the postal service.
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with odor free aspercreme. powerful medicine relieves pain fast, with no odor. so all you notice is relief. aspercreme. this is cnn breaking news. our breaking news, a navy jet slams into an apartment complex in virginia beach, sendzing flames and smoke into the air. the crew members ejected and survived. next, an urgent effort to account for everyone on the ground. let's go now to cnn's chad myers in atlanta. chad, you've been watching this closely and i've been keeping up with your reporting. >> yeah, joe. you know what? a very populated area for the naval air station to be right in the middle of virginia beach here, the big boardwalk. everybody knows about virginia beach, and then the rest of the area called hampton roads, but you have fore folk, and
chesapeake and much more populated than when the naval air station oceana was installed. let's fly you through what happened today. we'll get you right to where virginia beach is. we'll start this all over again so you can get an idea for where the crash happened to the beach, one mile. from the end of the runway to the crash, two and a half miles. so not a lot of time at 200 and something miles per hour, this plane's going about 200 knots as it left here, run way 5r, taking off toward the beach and leaving the naval air station. at some point, something catastrophic happened here where the pilot at some point knew that this plane wasn't going fly. if you follow a straight line it will take you right here, to this side of the map, way over here, but at the very last moment we know the plane began to tilt to the right, kind of just using it to the right and that plane did not go in a straight scomplien it curved off to the right and it landed right there in the mayfair mews
apartment complex and right through that little area right there. from the airport, a straight line takes it north to mews and as the pilots ejected the plane tilted to the right and so did the plane, and it turned off to the right and as the plane lost its altitude right there into the apartments. joe? >> so for people just joining us, this is something that happened very, very quickly, just upon takeoff. chad, i'd like you to just stay right there. i'm going to bring in max carey, a former navy pilot. max, we basically want to know from you, when something like this happens, you obviously go through a checklist, a series of protocols. what were the pilots thinking about when this plane started listing there right after takeoff? >> joe, they -- they've practiced this so many times. they've drilled this for hours and hours and hours and hours, what do i do in this situation?
what's my emergency procedure? what are my cues? what do i look at? what do i touch? and there is a sequence in a matter of seconds and they'll go through 20, 30, 40, as many as 50 cues instantly to make a decision. in this situation right after takeoff, a very unforgiving environment, they would have had very little time. what most don't realize is that jet when the engines are not firing at full power is like a stone, and it drops out of the sky. i'm sure they did everything they could to save the aircraft and based on the cues, they had to eject where they did. >> that's the next question. obviously, it's very early and we certainly don't want to get into too much of a speculation game here, but based on your own judgment, do you have some sense as to what could have happened? >> well, based on the trajectory of the airplane, it would be my guess that they lost power. had they lost control it would have rolled more abruptly. there would have been different activity with the airplane as it headed to the ground.
my guess is they lost power and they started to fall and there is a very, very brief envelope of time when you can still save yourself and your crew by getting out of the player plane and that's what they did. please know they would have considered the fact that there were buildings around and they would have stayed with the aircraft as long as possible. every pilot goes through a moral process prior to their own personal process. >> we've heard reports on cnn earlier today that there was fire seen under the right wing of the plane. what does that tell you? >> that tells you that they were about to explode. that's the most frightening thing for a pilot. you're sitting on 10,000 pounds of jet fuel which is essentially kerosene. they're sitting on 10,000 pounds of kerosene, and that was the other consideration that would have been pressing heavily as they made their choices. >> i have a picture i want to show you of the plane as it was going down. you were talking about the fuel there. if they were dumping fuel at the same time doesn't that
potentially create a serious problem? >> well, i don't know that they were -- i don't see fuel being dumped there. i'm not sure that they were dumping fuel. they were sitting on the fuel. obviously, that's what propels the aircraft, and it was ready for takeoff they probably had fuel full when they took off. hard to say whether they decided to dump fuel before the crash. i would think not. >> for our viewers who aren't familiar, this isn't the average sort of garden variety gasoline we're talking about. it's much more combustible, correct? >> it is highly combustible. essentially, it's just like kerosene. the same characteristics as kerosene, but it is highly explosive and as you can see burns really dirty which is really unfortunate. blessings, blessings, both pilots alive due to the quick reaction and blessings on no one killed on the ground. that's a miracle, joe. >> we've also gotten reports that at least one of the two navy personnel who ejected from
the plane was seen on the ground with the seat from the plane still attached. what does that suggest? >> well, the part of the seat that was attached is intended to be attached. all of the mechanics of the seat worked properly and it allowed the parachute to blow itself literally with an explosive charge off the back of the pilot. so that part of the seat worked perfectly. the parachute would deploy and the canopy blossomed and the part that you see is simply a survival kit that has essentials should he land in the water or enemy territory to survive until a rescue could take place. >> these are very well-known jets. they're the very same jets, as i understand it, that the blue angels air acrobatics team flies. people know them well. what's it like to fly a plane like this? >> you know, it truly is indescribable. we used to call it the e-ticket ride at disney world. your first landing, you land on
the carrier deck and you go from almost 200 miles an hour to 0 in three seconds and your gloves are rolled down your wrists and your socks are rolled down your ankles and your eyeballs are in the back of your head and you go from standing still to 200 miles an hour in 3.1 seconds and your socks roll back up and your eyeballs recage. nothing quite like it. >> need for speed. one thing i think we'll see in the coming days in all likelihood is questions whether such jets ought to be flying over populated areas like the hampton rhodes area there in virginia. in your view, is there any problem with it? have we seen a lot of accidents or for the most part is it safe? >> i think if you track the accident rate, it's actually very safe and accidents are very, very rare, and there is an enormous commitment within the military environment, particularly the carrier navy, naval aviation for protection
and for maintenance of aircraft and to avoid those situations. if you look at the statistics, you will see it's very rare. the last time i was in pensacola beach and the blue angels were performing there was a loud noise and the woman complained and her husband turned around and said, what's the matter, dear? don't you like the sound of freedom? this is the sound of freedom and this is what we must do. >> max carey, thanks so much. appreciate you coming in. >> thank you. blessings and thank god. >> we'll have much more on the breaking news, the crash of a navy jet into an apartment complex in virginia beach. fiery devastation at the scene. rescuers searching for possible victims on the ground and president obama already has a strong lead among women voters. can democrats take advantage? james carville and will cain are standing by for a strategy session.
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santorum's family. mary snow is monitoring that and other top stories in "the situation room" right now. mary, what do you have? >> hi there, joe. rick santorum's 3-year-old daughter isabella is in the hospital, that's according to a campaign spokesman. she suffers from a chromosomeal disorder which results in health and developmental problems. she was hospitalized in january with pneumonia. the campaign says the santorum family is requesting prayers and privacy. a dramatic end to a bizarre odyssey for a japanese fishing trawler. it's the boat you see burning here. it was swept out to sea in last year's tsunami and has been drifting in the pacific ever since, but as it approached the coast of alaska, the coast guard deemed it a hazard so yesterday a cutter opened fire on it and sank it. just who is that rounding the bases at wrigley field. it's none other than comedian bill murray having a little fun before he threw out the first pitch against the washington
nationals, check this out. murray says his slide into home plate may have actually been a collapse. the "saturday night live" alum is a chicago native. joe? >> thanks, mary. a white house women's conference gets very political. details of president obama's warning about the republican agenda. plus, the new jobs numbers and their impact on the race for the white house. james carville and will cain are standing by for a strategy session. ♪ ♪ wow... ♪ [ female announcer ] sometimes, all you need is the smooth, creamy taste of werther's original caramel to remind you that you're someone very special. ♪ werther's original caramels. consider the journey of today's athletes:
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a heavy dose of politics injected into an annual white house conference of women with president obama saying republican policies would reverse progress that his administration has made. white house correspondent dan lothian has more on that. dan, what's going on over there? >> reporter: as you know, this is the third year in a row that the white house has held this conference. the president from early on in his administration has talked about making issues about women and girls a top priority. so today his administration releasing this 55-page report that they say show cases some of the achievements that various agencies in this administration have done that will benefit
women, but as you know, any time you talk about something like this during an election year where the female vote is so important, it's hard to escape questions about politics. at home, the president is surrounded by women. he has strong views on the recent controversy over the all-male augusta national golf club. >> he believe, his personal opinion, is that women should be admitted. >> reporter: and when it comes to science and engineering, closing the pay gap and health care, the president defends his administration's effort in tackling the challenges facing women, even though he told an audience at the white house conference on women and the economy that the recent partisan debate on the issue was oversimplified. >> women are not some monolithic block. women are not an interest group. you shouldn't be treated that way. >> reporter: but there's no question the obama administration and his re-election campaign realize the value of the female vote.
in key swing states he holds a 54% to 36% advantage over gof front-runner mitt romney. >> as we get closer and closer, both parties seem to wake up and say oh, my gosh, we need to capture the women's vote and this is important and it almost appears as though it's an afterthought. >> in his appeal, romney has been making the case that the president's policies have hurt all americans including women. >> i talked to women who express how much it's costing to fill up the tank of gasoline and to get to and from work and take kids to school and it's getting prohibitively expensive. >> reporter: and the republican national committee seized on the mixed jobs report to take a shot at the president's pitch to women, saying in a statement, across america women are feeling the pain of the weak economy, in the job market and at the kitchen table. while the president's aides insisted this focus on women had nothing to do with politics,
they were left on the defensive after their motives were questioned. >> we're focusing on women because there are a number of issues that are important with regards to women in the economy, women safety, women in education that are very distinct and important and we are proud to host the conference. >> reporter: the president today told the kwem that when his critics are talking about things like repealing health care reform or doing away with planned parenthood that this would directly impact them, but he also seemed to be acknowledging some of the political pressure that he's been under pointing out that even in victories, sometimes things don't always move forward. sometimes they move backward if you're not fighting for them. expect to continue hearing from republicans, that narrative that this administration, what we have done has hurt all americans, but women in particular and going back to that statement from the rnc that i referenced earlier, they pointed out that in their words, women deserve better and that in november, the president will be held accountable. >> dan lothian, thanks so much
for that reporting from the white house. >> okay. a sharp slowdown in hiring. the latest jobs numbers are much lower than expected. what means for the economy and the campaign in the strategy session next. and the breaking news, the fiery crash of a navy jet into a virginia beach apartment complex. [ female announcer ] everything that goes into a lennox system is engineered for comfort. like parts that create your perfect temperature and humidity or the parts that purify the air. together these parts can cut your heating and cooling bills
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this is cnn breaking news. going back now to our top story of the day, that is that f/a-18 fighter jet that crashed into the apartment building in virginia beach, virginia. on the phone right now is virginia beach mayor william cessums. mayor, can you hear me? >> yes, sir, i can. >> you are at the scene right now as i understand it. what can you tell me? >> no, i just left the scene. what a sober -- two buildings partially destroyed and perhaps, either two or three buildings that are completely demolished. i'm happy to say the buildings that they were able to get through for the partially destroyed one, i am happy to say we didn't find anyone in them. i don't know what to expect with the other buildings at this
point. we haven't been able to get into the area. they're destroyed, but the heat has prevented firefighters from getting in there. >> mayor, how many buildings have they been able to get into and determined that there was no one there? >> two. >> there are how many buildings left? >> i believe, and i can't tell you specifically. i know there's no more than five. it's either four or five, but because of the way they were demolished, i couldn't tell you, but it's either four or five buildings. >> is it your understanding that these buildings were occupied by people presently living there as opposed to some of the buildings perhaps being vacant? >> i would have assumed all of the buildings were occupied. therefore, i feel very blessed that we didn't have any casualties found in the first two buildings. i don't know what to expect with the other buildings until they get in there in a few hours. >> can you give us an update on the number of injuries, as you understand it? >> right now, again, as it
stands now, the two pilots were transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and other than that, some very minor other issues have gone to the hospital, but to report specifically right as we speak, zee been very blessed with no serious injuries whatsoever, but we still have three more buildings to get into. >> okay, then. i didn't quite hear you correctly there. what you said nine nonlife-threatening injuries, correct, mayor? >> correct. >> okay. there's been some controversy, as we understand it about whether these jets ought to be flying in and out of oceana air base. can you sort of bring us up-to-date on whether there's been a move in the community to get rid of the air base or whether people -- >> well, first of all, i'm more concerned right now about, you
know, our search and rescue going on. i will give you a general answer to your question. the navy is a major part of our city, and as a city, we have always worked diligently with the navy so that it can stay a big part of our city. >> got it. and do you have a sense as to how long it will be before those other buildings can be searched? >> i would hope this evening at the very latest. the navy has been working with us and they brought over a special truck which allows a special foam to be put over the smoke which is toxic and once that is knocked down and the heat is somewhat reduced, we'll be able to get people in there obviously in the next few hours. >> mayor william sessoms of virginia beach, virginia, we thank you for jumping on the line and giving us an update. >> thank you very much. more on the breaking news just ahead, but first, the latest jobs numbers which is
much lower than expected. what that means for the economy and the campaign. james carville and will cain coming up next.t claim with our smartphone app. you name it, we're here, anytime, anywhere, any way you want it. that's the way i need it. any way you want it. [ man ] all night? all night. every night? any way you want it. that's the way i need it. we just had ourselves a little journey moment there. yep. [ man ] saw 'em in '83 in fresno. place was crawling with chicks. i got to go. ♪ any way you want it ♪ that's the way you need it ♪ any way you want it ♪
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the latest show a sharp slowdown in hiring last month. employers added only 120,000 new jobs in march, half as many as february. the unemployment rate dropped from 8.3% to 8.2%, but that may be due to people leaving the job market. more now on our strategy session with cnn political contributors democratic strategist james carville and will cain, the columnist for theblaze.com. these numbers do look a bit bleak for what we are expecting here at cnnmoney.com. how does the administration spin this to make it look not worse than it is? well, first of all, i don't think that they do and there's an expression in baseball that you're only as good as tomorrow's starting pitch and you're only as good as next year's job number. in july 2004 the economy created
73,000 jobs and the president went on to win the election. i don't think you should tout good numbers when you have them and i don't think the opposition this shh tout bad numbers because the numbers change month to month. i wouldn't spin it as good. i would say there was a need to do more, and i would have said the same last month, too. >> do you think this is a home run for him -- running for president? >> let's not spin these numbers at all. they're not very good. you can't put a happy face on them, and they're half of what everyone was expecting or half from what the numbers were last month and we shouldn't predict doom and gloom and say obama's ruining the economy this month, they might be different next month. what's more important is the trend. we've been adding jobs several months and we dropped this month. what does that mean going forward? does that show a trend slowing down? i don't know. i'll tell you it looks wobbly right now, we'll see what it look like a month from now.
>> i want to take you to a piece we saw from dan lothian, this issue of the gender gap. the administration certainly, james, appears to be instigating, if you will, pushing women's issues at a time when it's pretty clear that republicans are running a big gender gap with the president. the question, though, from the campaign trail, you hear people saying the biggest issue, the biggest women's issue is the economy. at least that comes from republicans. >> right. >> do you think republicans can make that case? >> well, look, they can make the case. it doesn't mean the president can't make his case either. the democrats, the last time we lost the women's vote was probably 1988. so the president won it by 13, i think in 2008. he'll obviously win it this time, but he has to win it because they don't do that well with men. this san election year, and by the way, this is the third year in a row, but i don't think there's anything wrong with the
president drawing a contrast, nor do i think there's anything wrong with romney talking about it either. it's the necessary part of the election-year politics. >> do you think the president is instigating? >> yes, i do. i think james is right. it's been a 30-year trend for women to skew democratic, and that doesn't mean the president hasn't tried to enhance it. we had the last month that was rich, where the president was saying women weren't an interest group, and we've redefined religious liberties debate into contraception into a war on women. i think it has created a gap, typical for history even though women are skewing for some time. for republicans, they'll have to somehow spin that back to the truth which is there is no war on women in any form or fashion. >> well, the other question, james, go ahead. >> he'll have to tell senator mccow ski, and the democrats
think the contraception is the good thing and the republicans don't like contraception. those that don't, should vote democratic. it's simply that, but there's nothing wrong with the president again, trying to draw some blood on this issue and there's nothing wrong with the republicans fighting back and it's a good part of election-year politics. >> go ahead. >> i was going to say, we can pull it down into simplicities like that, if you like contraception vote for democrat, and if you don't like them, vote for them, and if you like liberty vote for republicans and if you don't, vote for democrats. >> mitt romney has been out there trying to help mitt romney on the campaign trail with this gender gap problem. do you think that works and i'll ask you, james carville. do you think it works? >> no. they're going to try something.
get a guy's wife to say that he's good, that's not very -- that's not a very persuasive argument to people. >> i'm going to cut you guys off because they're telling me we've got to go. thank you to you both, james carville and will cain. >> thank you. you're in "the situation room." happening now, nine people injured and the search under way for the missing after a navy jet plunges into an apartment complex leaving a neighborhood in shock. a live update is just ahead. plus, was this a disaster waiting to happen? why calls close to this base may have been ignored and while the pentagon tries to cut billions of dollars from the budget, the defense secretary is flying home on almost $1 million of your money. welcome to our viewers in the united states and around the world. wolf blitzer is off today. i'm joe johns. you're in "the situation room." -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com
a neighborhood covered in debris and the stench of jet fuel still fresh in the air. you're looking at live aerials just hours after two-seater navy jet plunged into an apartment complex, immediately setting the buildings around it ablaze. miraculously, at this point, there are no reports of deaths. let's go straight to brian todd with the latest. brian? >> joe, what we know right now and this is the very latest from the mayor bill sessoms, nine confirmed injuries at this time. people on the ground injured by this crash. according to mayor sessoms, this was because of the plane crash that occurred shortly after noon. this f/a-18d fighter plane attached to the naval air station at oceana. we'll show you some of the very
latest pictures. we have some ground view pictures of the disaster -- from an i-reporter james conrad who took this brand new video. you can see the verocity of the flames lapping up over the roof of the building and coming through the windows and just incredible images from literally moments after this crash. it gives you an illustration of just the tough task ahead for the first responders as they get there and that they're still vasing at this hour. one thing the mayor tells us is they've gone through two of the five buildings that were damaged in this crash. they have three more buildings to go through. so you may see different casualty figures in the hour ahead. another picture from a slightly different angle from the ground there. again, flames as first responders rushed to the scene there. one of the people that we were told was injured by smoke inhalation and it was a police officer who responded to the scene. again, the nine people injured on the ground include, apparently according to
officials, the two crew members and all of the people treated for nonlife-threatening injuries. that is what the battalion chief of the virginia beach fire department said, he was most concerned of the carbon fibers from the smoke. you see it here in this incredible video of the first responders just in the moments after the crash. some ground view there of them coming to the scene and just trying to get organized on the ground, get to the scene as quickly as possible and sift through the damage and find survivors. we have another piece of video here and still pictures here of the tail section of the plane on the ground just moments after the crash. there you can see, very dramatic, you can see some of the sections of that tail on the ground and some other still videos here of the scene. again, smoke from the virginia department of transportation cameras that you see emanating from the scene. i have a little clip of sound from battalion chief tom riley on just how tough it is for them to go searching through some of
this wreckage in the early hours after the crash. take a listen. >> there have been collapses. there has been a pancake collapse and then we have some voids. so right now the structure is too unsafe to get into. we have to shore that up before we can put weight on that. we are working with the hotel management and anybody that -- excuse me, the apartment management to find out if anybody's missing. so far we haven't had that. >> and we'll show you some other video now just to illustrate the scene and just what was going through the minds of the first responders and the citizens, helping the first responders, taking hoses across the street anden credible video of the moments before this crash and while some of them are taking video, they're rushing to help get the hoses across the street
ask just get the flames out. first responders will always tell you that navigating through flames and smoke and the materials are very, very hot to the touch are some of the most treacherous parts of responding to this. >> now let's talk location here. this occurred from the naval air station from oceana. i'll show you this google map from this runway about two miles from the crash site, that was may on fair mews apartments on breakneck road. five buildings damaged here by this crash, but they have a total of ---ible proy eight or nine buildings in this complex. about three or four floors to the building. take a look at this. this is the virginia beach middle school just about a third of a mile away from this crash site, but we are told student were on spring break, but you do have this middle school just
blocks away from the scene of this crash. headinging forward now in the same direction. it was a while from the ocean where they could have ditched the plane, and again, this is are is an area that's heavy populated with vacationers and that about a mile away from where the crash occurred, so you get it, name, what could have -- being able to ditch that game in the ocean. >> i know. when you think about it, you have spring break going in some places, good friday, passover. all of these things could have contributed to a lot of people in the area. let me ask you one other thing, brian, and that is the about the carbon fibers in the smoke. we know that firefighters have apparatus to breathe air, but is this smoke toxic? is that the concern?
>> it is, and that is the concern from everybody on the scene and people also, including former navy pilots. this is a different kind of fuel. it's highly combustible, the smoke is very toxic. you heard that the fire of the battalion chief says that's his main concern, the carbon fibers from that smoke containing the smoke at the scene. you look at the live aerial pictures looks like they may have contained the smoke at the scene. remember what the mayor said moments ago. we've only gone through two of the five buildings and the two buildings they've yet to go through may be the most devastated buildings of them all. so keep a close eye on the casualty figures. everyone is thankful, of course, no reports of fatalities and they could very well change. only two buildings have been completely gone through and two of the five buildings -- those numbers have slowly, but, and now to nine.
non-life-threatening according to the mayor. >> thanks so much for your reporting, brian, and we'll keep checking back with you. >> thank you. there are some concerns that this may have been a disaster waiting to happen. cnn pentagon correspondent barbara starr taking a closer look at the pressure to close this navy base due to heavy housing development in the area. barbara? >> at one time, it was farmland in rural virginia, as we see from the video, heavily populated with stohomes and businesses. the navy operating with one of the training squadrons on the east coast. in 2004-2005 the base closure commission of the federal government which looks to shut down military bases recommended oceana be shut down because of encroaching development because there was too much housing too close to the base. that set off a political
firestorm. many virginia politicians wanted to keep the base open. it brings, of course, economic development to the area and the navy said it was the only economically, viable option for that east coast training squadron. so oceana has remained open over the years even as they got closer to the base and what we see is the reality of u.s. military operations trying to coexist in residential and business areas across this country. you know, this is what goes on. they practice at oceana for their carrier landings and they play almost daily. it depends on the training cycle, but people in that neighborhood will tell you they hear navy jets all of the time. they're quite used to it and hopefully today they avoided complete disaster, but still, that final word to come on what has happened to the people on the ground. joe? >> it certainly could create another controversy, but we've seen that before, with people
voting their pocketbooks and at a time when the economy is just not so good, it would be hard to see how people would want their jobs to move somewhere else. >> well, that's exactly right, especially in virginia where the u.s. military has a large presence as it does in places like california, texas, florida. these become very significant, political issues. small businesses grow up around military bases, shopping center, housing, development, real estate. the military is a lifeline for so many communities. just think about the u.s. army, in tense techs, at fort bliss, there are massive economic questions from people in this area. if the military goes away they lout out in perk. it wants americans to know who they are and what they do. so this is very tough.
they have to be able to operate safely and what we're learning today is there have been a lot of questions about oceana over the years because of the changing structure and the changing environment around the base. once farmland, now very heavy development as we saw today. >> but for the record, barbara, it looks like there haven't been a lot of problems with planes out there and there haven't appeared to have been a lot of problems with this particular plane. >> no. that's a really good point, joe. the navy certainly tries and does succeed as much as possible, the great majority of the flights, perfectly safe where people often complain about the noise, but the navy, the air force, the military generally operates very safely even in these populated areas. >> barbara star at the pentagon, thanks so much for that. >> we are waiting for a news conference for the mayor of virginia beach along with navy officials after the break. and, i talked to a witness who
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perfect example of how training can be put to use. you're dealing with multimillion dollar machines and complicated weapons systems and tough situations to operate in and when they have that malfunction which will be reviewed and they'll discover the source of that and they'll have to act instantaneously and it will ultimately save lives and save money and improve the reputation of the military in the long run. >> we heard about the checklist that pilot goes through in situations like this. what would be going through your mind if you started seeing a malfunction on the job? >> well, what happens is before you strap into that plane with the wingman behind you or solo you've rehearsed it. you've flown in a simulator in a chair going through the systems over and over and over again. in the heat of battle or in the heat of an emergency you will likely forget something, but the key is when you train with intensity and when the emergency happens, you respond, and --
>> all right. rob? >> i'm going to have to jump in on you right now because the mayor of virginia beach is starting his news conference right now. let's listen. >> heroic acts. i've been to reduce the impact of today's crash and tragedy. finally, to make it clear that the navy is offering all resources to the city of virginia beach to help it in the aftermath of today's incident. i wanted to give a brief a brief summary of what happened today. shortly after noon we had a training flight. they had two f-18 hornet take off from naval air station oceana. shortly after takeoff initial indications are that that aircraft suffered a
catastrophic, mechanical malfunction, the specifics of which i don't want to speculate on. however, it resulted in the forced ejection of that air crew both of those air crew ejected safely and in the front seater was a student pilot. the backseater was an experienced instructor. it resulted in their forced ejection and the loss of the aircraft which impacted over my right shoulder here, and with that, i can take a couple of questions. >> i've heard that a bird may have been sucked into the engine of the aircraft upon takeoff. did the pilots give any indication of anything like that occurring? >> no, sir. at this time we have no indications of a bird. and again, all we know is that there was a mechanical malfunction shortly after takeoff, and that's really all we know at this time. >> is this a training mission?
>> yes. most of the flying that we do at naval air station oceana is directly related to training in preparation for the efforts that we do have. >> there were reports of eyewitnesses that they saw jet fuel from the plane. was that designed? did they let go of the jet fuel early prior to the crash? >> no. the indication of the jet fuel is one of the eyewitness accounts that we heard as well and there was one of the indications that there was a mechanical malfunction that's leading us down that road. again, that's initial assessment. there will be a full investigation, as always, as there is in any aircraft mishap and we will very thoroughly determine what happened today. >> how is the crew? >> the crew is doing well. they suffered some minor injuries and the latest report is that they're up and about and both coherent and doing well. >> are they local?
>> they do both live here in virginia beach. >> is this the first crash locally involving an f/a-18 aircraft? >> it's the -- i'm not fully prepared to answer that. it's the only one in recent history in the local area over land. >> can you define student pilot? when you say student pilot -- >> it was squadron 106. they're one of the navy's three fleet replacement squadrons. this is where the navy teaches our f-18 pilots essentially for very first time in the fleet with the representative aircraft. so their syllabus goes from basic flying to advanced tactics. >> you guys train very much for a scenario like this, and you do it with virginia beach first responders. certainly, a lot of that must have come into play today and
helped out here. >> certainly, in fact, some month and a half ago we had a full virginia beach fire department happen in coordination with our military dod assets here in the area and we ran every company through how we would operate in this sort of incident and obviously, that training has paid off for us. >> chief, how far have the firefighters been able to get into the damaged buildings? >> we made access to every building for a primary search, we call it. we are now making sure that we've mitigated the debris field as best we can and we're going to do a secondary search operation from there. obviously, first priority was fire control at some 40 units burning and got that fire under control in roughly an hour. >> are you reasonably confident at this point that there are no fatalities in this incident? >> we have none reported to us that we are aware of at this point? >> any people missing? have there been any missing
persons reports? >> certainly with the number of occupants in this complex there are still people that we're trying to track down. >> the fuel, the fire, the wind, what was the biggest challenge to firefighters today? >> fire spread and exposed buildings. [ inaudible question ] >> there have been complaints that maybe the planes are flying too close to civilians. folks are concerned about that. >> i would not comment about that. today's focus is to talk about the events of the mishap today and again, to express our -- the gratitude of the navy and the continued cooperation between the united states navy and the city of virginia beach to keep something like this from happening again in the future. >> your view on that, because i know you worked a lot with the navy recently to try to prevent encroachment upon the facility there. >> right. >> what is your assessment right
now of the proximity of all of this population to businesses and residents to the air base? >> the navy has always been a tremendous part of our city, and it is a vital part of our city and that will continue to sit back and see how the navy and the city can work together through this tragic situation. it's very, very impressive. what i'm thinking about now is that we don't find any victims. so far we've been very lucky. we have to go through a few more buildings and that's what's on my mind now. >> there are private citizens who stepped up to rescue the piles. >> let me say to you, out of all bad comes some good and never have i ever been so proud of our police, fire, ems, the navy, the state, the citizens of virginia beach out here helping to move fire hoses. that shows you the quality of the people in the city and that they really care and they're helping each other and for that i am most grateful.
>> can you give us an idea of what you do in the circumstances -- >> we go through extensive emergency procedure training and certainly is a part of a continuum that goes on throughout our entire career. in the case of catastrophic malfunctions, we do have emergency procedures. there's no indicated that the air crew were able to do anything other than have a forced ejection today, and again, that will be part of the full investigation that goes on from the safety and legal round. >> are you aware of how many times they -- are you aware of how many times the student pilot had actually been in the air? >> i am not. however, the instructor pilot was extremely experienced. >> as an experienced first responder, you just had a jet
fighter crash. [ inaudible question ] >> i think we're truly blessed by that. i think, in fact, the folks doing the right thing before our assets got here and we hope they will continue to do the right thing. if they found pieces of the aircraft, we asked that they not touch them that they call our 311 line here in the city and we'll partner with our naval partners and make sure that's rectified. we with would like people to stay away from the area if at all possible and if anybody has residents that live in the mayfair apartments we ask that you call the 311 number as well so we can track those folks down. [ inaudible question ] all right. >> so there you go. a news conference in virginia beach giving us just a bit of new information, probably the
most significant piece of information there is a representative of the united states navy on the scene essentially calling this a cat strofk mechanical malfunction of the aircraft. this was a two-seater f 18, we're told, and we're also told that there was a pilot in training in the front of the aircraft and an instructor in the back. the mayor, there you saw of virginia beach saying they've been very, very lucky there so far with the reports of casualties and injuries. now let's talk a little bit to lieutenant colonel rob waldman. i was just talking to you before the news conference began. they're describing this as a catastrophic malfunction. that much seems clear. what did you take away from this news conference? >> well, i definitely took away the community, and the training.
i mean, in a situation like this obviously the pilots have got to react to avoid as much damage and as much possibility of a casualty. when the accident happens you're low altitude and the first thing you do in the training is you turn that altitude and turn the airspeed into altitude and you maintain the aircraft control. you analyze the situation. you take proper action and then you land as soon as conditions permit. now in this situation they didn't have a landing strip to land on so they had to make a choice. either stay with the plane or eject, and as we are trained we have to eject in the area that will minimize casualties, and as i said, it's a very, very populated area. i am sure the piles were confident that they were putting it down in the best area where it would minimize extra casualties. if they could have taken it out into the ocean they would have, but quick actions, and i
guarantee save lives and it's great to watch the community come together and be such great wingmen and serve without having to be in uniform, obviously. >> as i just reported, we had the training pilot in the front, the instructor in the back. describe for our viewers how typical that is with a new pilot learning how to fly. >> it's very, very typical. now mind you, the folks flying in the plane, there's a very experienced instructor pilot in the back and a student in the front. they already have their wings. they're already qualified to fly. oftentimes they're getting checked out in that particular aircraft, getting what we call m.r., mission ready. before they even step into the plane they've gone into simulators. they've practiced it on the ground, they rehearsed it in their mind over and over again. the instructor pilot has questioned and challenged that individual and if they aren't read oat ground they don't fly. so ultimately, because this was
a student, that individual in the back. that man or woman who was the commander of the aircraft had to make decisions. they followed through and react just as when they trained on the ground. >> in that scenario, does the instructor pilot have the power to take over the plane if, say, the student pilot is doing something wrong? >> absolutely. they are trained and that -- that discipline, that in-flight discipline is critical and if that student doesn't follow those procedures and have the discipline they don't make it through the program. so these are pre-qualifications before you step into the jet and as an instructor, particularly on dangerous situations on takeoff and landing when you're close to the ground when split-second decisions need to happen very fast because the ground will kill you, obviously, the training has to be very, very, very strict and comply with it at all times. >> obviously, we'd be
speculating just a bit. given what we know about this and also the fact that there were flames seen coming out of the right side of the plane. how likely is it, based on what we know that this was operator error? >> you know, one thing about the military that we have to keep in mind, is you have to be very, very careful not to draw conclusions. they'll have a safety investigation board and a lot of smart people will break the whole scenario apart from beginning to end and they'll look at the machinery and look at the wreckage and find a -- human being flying aircraft. it may have been an afterburner trying to gain thrust to get out of the area and then there may have been a fuel problem. there may have been something else going wrong and it's very important to let the safety board do their job with first responders and put together a
great solution to this puzzle, and i guarantee the training and discipline will come to fruition and we'll see a good answer to this tragic event. >> lieutenant colonel rob waldman, we appreciate you coming in and appreciate your insights and for hanging around through the news conference. >> proud to be here. we'll talk to a woman who witnessed the crash. she saw the plane nosedive with, quote, with flames under the right wing. from neutrogena® naturals. removes 99% of dirt and toxins without dyes, parabens or harsh sulfates. so skin feels pure and healthy. [ female announcer ] from neutrogena® naturals.
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uncommon for ejection seats to actually go off. these thins have gone off now counting 12,000 times in the course of flight. this is from nasa. this is called a 00 ejection. this pilot is sitting on the tarmac. that's a real pilot in there. now we're going fire it off. the pilot goes 200 feet into the sky. so even if the plane is sitting on the tarmac, the pilot goes into the sky, gets shot like a rocket into the sky. when he reaches the top or the peak of this the ejection seat here a little bit tilted to the floor, and it shouldn't be that way, but that's okay, that's a nasa picture and it explodes into the parachute open and the pilot being released from the seat. we saw the seat earlier and the pilot landing on the ground safely with literally no elevation to start with. he was sitting on ground. that's an f-18 ejection seat.
joe? >> wow. but it's still not optimal to be very close to the ground, i would think. it's probably much better to be firing one of those things when you're at altitude, safer, at least, for the pilot, yes? >> of course. less things to run into when you have a moment in time to steer a little bit when all of a sudden if you're on the ground as close as they were, the ejection seat going off, there may have been trees, power line, poles, anything, transmission towers higher than they were at this point. >> thanks so much for that. chad in atlanta. joining us on the phone, amy miller. she witnessed this crash first hand and amy, tell us what you saw. >> yes, sir. i work at barrett cleaners in the little birdneck shops right up the road. i had just gotten the word that i was going in at 12:00 and i was doing a shift change and i
look up and when i look up i see a plane coming down low at an angle, and i could see flames around the wing. i actually saw them eject and the parachutes open and the plane go down, and of course, my boss ran in to call 911, and i started running home to check on my family. >> when you say you saw flames around the wing, was it around the tip of the wing or near the engine? >> near the body of the plane. >> would it be the right side of the plane as if you were one of the pilots or the right side of the plane as you were looking at it from your vantage point. >> as if you were a passenger on the right side because i was on the opposite side of the road and it was coming from the east toward the ocean front, and it was coming down at an angle. >> and was this a lot of flames? >> there were flames underneath. >> i'm sorry. a lot of flames? >> not like engulfed, i would call it. i could see flames right there at the wing, close to the body.
>> and you saw the pilots eject. tell us a little bit more about what that looked like. >> just like something shot up from the plane as it was coming down at an angle and the parachute opened as if they were going to the right of where the plane actually went down. >> any way for you to tell how high the plane was flying when the pilots ejected? >> oh, it was not very high at all. it was already pretty low because i said to my boss -- i said that plane's not really low, it's about to crash, and i could see the flame, so -- before actually even getting the thought process, they popped out and the thing opened and they went down. >> can you give me some sense as to whether the plane hit the building before the pilots ended up on the ground? >> no. they ejected before the plane hit anything. >> right, but my question to you is did the pilots get safely to the ground before the plane hit or did the plane fly on and hit before those pilots got on the
ground? >> i'm not sure because once i saw the parachutes open and the plane went down out of sight i couldn't see where anything landed or anything. i couldn't even tell exactly which complex it hit. there are several of them here and i work on one side of where this happened and live on the other side within a two-block radius. >> i see. >> i took off running toward the scene so i could see if my family was okay. >> i want to bring chad myers in. did you have a question, chad? >> amy, by far, you are the most credible and amazing witness when you said the plane was tilting or listing to the right and the ejection seats went off to the right. we had other people say that they believe they saw fuel coming from the plane, like almost losing fuel off the bottom of the plane? did you see anything like that? >> i would say that with it happening so fast and me paying attention to the flames and the parachutes, i couldn't tell you
if any gas was coming out or not. honestly can't. >> joe? >> i don't know if they released any fuel because just watching the flames, the plane going down and them come out and the parachutes open was just -- i was just in shock, and then i took off running. >> amy, thank you. >> joe, what i heard the public information officer say in the press conference a little bit ago is they're looking closely at that report of the flame and also of the fuel possibly coming out because if fuel was coming out that could have been part of the catastrophic failure that that information officer was talking about. >> thanks, chad. i also just want to throw in the hospital now indicating to cnn and others that everyone who they know of who was injured in this terrible accident has been treated and released except for one crew member. so once again, a bit of good news on this good friday on that, and amy miller, we want to thank you so much for sticking
with us. i think probably, the bottom line question for you and coming from that area, you've probably seen a lot of planes fly overhead. have you ever seen or would you have ever expected to see anything like this happening? >> certainly never expected to see anything like this happen. no. absolutely not. i mean, people complain about the noise and understandably and you can even feel it shake from time to time living here where i live, but to think that you would actually see one go down. i mean, i was literally standing across the street, it was literally yards from me, and that's crazy. >> a chilling scene amy miller describes. thank you for that. >> no problem. there are some other important news we're following today, while the pentagon tries to cut billions of dollars from the budget, the defense secretary is flying home on nearly $1 million of your money. we'll explain after the break. ♪
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imagine working in washington monday through friday and then flying home almost every weekend to california? that's a weekly ritual for defense secretary leon panetta, and get this, he does it for the most part on the taxpayers' dime. cnn pentagon correspondent barbara starr is back with that. double duty for you today, barbara. >> indeed, joe. here at the pentagon it's all about cutting the budget and trying to save billions of dollars so why are taxpayers paying nearly $1 million for leon panetta to fly home on the weekend? we mapped it all out for you. here's what's going on right now. since panetta took office he's flown home to california 27 times since last july. look at the map. he starts off here in the washington, d.c. area, andrews air force base and flies across the country and back to his home in monterey, california. the plane costs $3200 an hour to
fly. why? well, secretary panetta, of course, is one of the key members of the national security community. under government regulation he must have secure communications, he must have his secure team and he has to have this structure around him so he has to be on a government plane. he can't fly valujet or jetblue like you and me. so that's why the cost. he has reimbursed the government $17,000, but the government has picked up $860,000 of that tab so far because it's a military plane. his spokesman says -- george little tells us, quote, no one understands the budget pressures on the pentagon better than secretary panetta, who is responsible for identifying nearly $1 billion dollars per week in the defense cuts or roufrly $14 million per day over the next ten years. hear what this watchdog group says about secretary panetta's
sponding. >> he understands better than most people about the pressures and the issues and the fact that we have a $15 trillion debt. to see the same individual then going and spending tens of thousands of dollars flying back home every weekend, it really sort of boggles the mind. >> many people will tell you that it is not about the fact that he has to be on a secure jet and have those communications. everyone understands it. the question on the table is how much personal travel should he be engaging in to go home on the weekends with the government having underregulation to pick up so much of the tab. joe? >> barbara, when you look at this thing, the other thing that comes to my mind is if the defense secretary is flying commercial he might also be sort of a danger for other passengers because he could become a target if he was vulnerable. is that part of the argument? >> well, since 9/11 it has been the case that key members of the administration such as the defense secretary, the secretary
of state and secretary clinton also goes home to new york on some weekends. they have to be on a government plane. they have to have security. >> got it. great. thanks so much for that reporting once again, barbara starr. >> sure. >> more trouble for marion barry. the d.c. city councilman and former mayor once caught on tape smoking crack is now under fire for shocking new comments about asian-owned businesses. plus, a famous african-american film and television producer claims he was racially profiled. ahe ahead, the incident tyler perry is calling a situation that could have turned for the wort. worse. ♪
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atlanta police are investigating a claim by producer and actor tyler perry that he was racialary profiled by two officers. cnn sberl at the same time correspondent corrine winter joins us with that. corrine. >> this is a story that's definitely not going away. it actually started with an open letter that hollywood filmmaker and movie star, tyler perry, posted on facebook. it got a whole lot of traction really fast, joe. within hours more than 10,000 facebook users had liked perry's posting, a number which has grown to well over 100,000 with
more than 20,000 comments. atlanta police just launched an internal investigation into what happened during perry's recent traffic stop just days before perry hosted president obama at his atlanta studio. the star claims he was racially profiled by two white police officers who pulled him over. perry said it got hostile and he was so confused because he did nothing illegal. here's what he wrote on his facebook page about the tense encounter. the officer on the driver's side continued to badger me. it happened so fast that i could see how this situation could get out of hand very quickly. i didn't feel safe at all, but one officer stopped his questioning and said we may not let you go. perry described what happened next when another official on the scene, a black officer, recognized his famous face. he wrote, he took one look at me and had that oh, no, look on his face. he immediately took both officers to the back of my car and spoke to them in a hushed
tone. after that, one of the officers stayed near his car while one came back very apologetic. joe, perry made reference to the controversial trayvon martin case writing that although there's been significant strides with racially profiling in this country, he believes the world needs to know this is still happening and that, quote, until the situation has improved greatly i'm not sure how a murder in florida can be protected by a stand your ground law. as for atlanta police, i contacted them again today. just to be clear detectives aren't calling this a racial profiling case. they launched an internal investigation into the matter. officers are looking into weather perry's claims can be substantiated and whether any policies were violated during the stop. i confirmed, joe, none of the officers have been placed on leave. joe. >> interesting case there, tyler perry certainly has a lot of fans and i think atlanta police just finding that out now. thanks so much. >> absolutely. former d.c. mayor marion
barry once caught on tape smoking crack is in hot water for something he said about asians. they agreed. [ experimenter 1 ] relax, take some nice deep breaths. [ experimenter 2 ] at do you smell? lilac. clean. there's something that's really fresh. a little bit beach-y. like children's blankets. smells like home. [ experimenter 1 ] okay take your blindfolds off. ♪ hello? [ male announcer ] if febreze fabric refresher can freshen this couch, what can it do for yours? febreze fabric refresher -- breathe happy. if you want a luxury car with a standard power moonroof, your options are going to be limited. ♪ if you want standard leather-trimmed seats,
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do about medicare and social security... security. that's what matters to me... me? i've been paying in all these years... years washington's been talking at us, but they never really listen... listen...it's not just some line item on a budget; it's what i'll have to live on... i live on branson street, and i have something to say... [ male announcer ] aarp is bringing the conversation on medicare and social security out from behind closed doors in washington. because you've earned a say. marion barry is in hot water
again. several years ago he was caught on tape smoking crack. more recently he's had run-ins with the irs. now, shocking remarks about asian-owned businesses. here's cnn's athena jones. >> reporter: washington, d.c. council member marion barry latest dust-up was at the re-election party when he criticized asian-owned shops in southeast washington. >> these neighborhood shopping centers, we got to do something about these asians coming in and opening up businesses with dirty shops. they ought to go. i'm just stating that right now. we need african-american business people to take their places, too. >> reporter: asian and black leaders blasted barry. once known as a fighter for civil rights what they called racially decisive remarks. barry apologized for what he said was a bad choice of words. we caught up with him in his
ward. >> i said something that i probably could have phrased it differently, but the meaning is the same. we're not going to have people who exploit us in this community. they're going to be a part of the community. we welcome all business people here and we want you to participate, but give us some jobs. >> reporter: barry's comments have touched a nerve. >> i was very mad at him. >> we work really hard to keep our facility clean and to serve this community. we've been here for over 20 years now. so it's really insulting for him to come out of the blue and say that we're dirty and that, you know, we should be replaced basically because we've been here for so long. >> she's mad at me. tell her to put money some in this community, have some people in in community. >> reporter: perhaps best known for the 1990 federal drug sting that caught him smoking crack in a hotel room, more recently barry was sentenced to probation for failing to file tax returns.
still, he remains extraordinarily popular and defiant. you're not a stranger to controversy. it seems like every few years there's something -- some story out. how does that make you feel? why do you think that is? >> because i'm doing such a great job. i'm doing a fantastic job. my political enemies, they hate us and other kinds of people. they have to find something to do. attack marion barry. >> he said his record is well-known. he has a great deal of support in the asian community, and he stands by his complaint that asian store owners need to hire more local workers and be more a part of their community. joe. >> athena jones in washington, d.c. thanks so much for that. and thanks for joining us. i'm joe johns in for wolf blitzer in the situation room. the news continues next on cnn. thanks for