March 24th, 2008
05:41 PM ET

Erica’s News Note: The miracle of life

When word of the Alaska Ranger’s distress call popped up on my BlackBerry yesterday, my thoughts immediately turned to the unforgiving, frigid waters off the coast of the Aleutian Islands, where the boat was taking on water. I’m a huge fan of “Deadliest Catch”, the reality show that follows crab fisherman in that same area. Last year, I learned a lot about the intense danger of the waters these men and women work in, including the importance of their survival suits. Without one, Coast Guard officials tell us your survival time is less than 30 minutes.

Even with that suit, these waters are more than just cold. The Alaska Ranger was in 10 foot seas early Sunday with winds of 30 to 35 miles per hour when it began taking on water. Sea temperatures were 29 degrees while the air temps were in the mid-30s. More than a dozen crew members were trying to stay alive in the water, with only those survival suits and strobe lights to save them; they were without a life raft. They were eventually plucked from the ocean, along a mile stretch.

This afternoon as I write this, one crew member is missing, four are dead, 42 survived. The story, which you can see here, is heartbreaking and eye-opening.

As many Americans focus on rising gas prices, dropping home sales and what we’re giving up as recession looms, the situation in Egypt reminds me how lucky we are, even in the midst of this downturn. A bread shortage there has left seven people dead and has the government scrambling to fix this situation.

In Egypt, the demand for subsidized bread – which sells for less than a penny a loaf - is climbing as fewer people can afford unsubsidized bread. Flour and other ingredients are getting more expensive, as is the end product. Lines for the government loaves can stretch on for hours, and have also led to violence. Police say two people have been stabbed in line, and others have died of exhaustion and medical complications from waiting in the spring heat. See the story here.

It’s the outcome no one expected, but everyone wanted. Doctors told Zach Dunlap’s family he was gone. His father looked at the brain scans for his 21 year old son, and saw nothing – no blood flow, no activity; his son was brain dead. As his parents prepared to say goodbye, doctors were getting ready to harvest the young man’s organs, in hopes of saving another life. The, the miraculous happened: Zach moved. Today, 48 days after hearing doctors declare him brain dead, Zach is out of the hospital and says he’s feeling “pretty good”.

It’s a story that leaves me feeling that way, too. Check it out for yourself.

Erica Hill, 360 Correspondent

Filed under: Erica Hill
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. Ram

    Fiedel Castro is very right on this. World population is 6 Billion. There is food shotrage, rising prices of commodities, gas etc in every sector. It is a very bad idea to convert corn to Ethanol. We need to change our habits of gas consumption, energy use, produce sun, wind, water & other power, conservation, mass transit etc. This world has become increasingly demanding on energy use. We need to slow down & think.

    March 25, 2008 at 11:15 am |
  2. Yolanda Alvarado

    I used to be a journalist in Lansing, MI, and admired black pastors who showed up at school board meetings with church members to talk about school problems affecting blacks. I consider it very appropriate and admirable for black pastors to speak out about social justice issues.

    March 25, 2008 at 4:07 am |
  3. John

    Why is there no discussion of war crimes during the campaign? Is Bush going to escape unscathed? Are the Democrats running for office shying away from the issue? Are media hunting this story or waiting for others to investigate?

    March 24, 2008 at 10:41 pm |
  4. Jim

    I'm a staunch Republican that enjoys James Carville's candor and pugnacious style. And when he uses the word 'disloyal', I suspect he refers to the former President not throwing Richardson 'under the bus' while laptops were being stolen by China under his watch.

    Gotta' believe Obama promised the New Mexican Governor the VP Spot........while Sen. Bayh (who I was predicting would be our next President 12 months ago) was seen with Hillary today making him a perfect running mate for the NY Senator after she steals the nomination.

    March 24, 2008 at 10:35 pm |
  5. Teresa Hall

    Prayers for the survivors and those lost at sea. The families are also in my thoughts. As a huge "Deadliest Catch" fan my heart sank when I first heard the news. I had to find out the boat hoping that it wouldn't be The Northwestern or The Mavrick. Then memories of The Big Valley going down flooded my mind. God Bless and be with all the fishermen.

    March 24, 2008 at 10:20 pm |
  6. Joseph

    Congrats Anderson – I've never seen Jim Carville squirm the way he did under your rational query tonight.

    March 24, 2008 at 10:19 pm |
  7. Linda Seaton

    Pray for these families with all your heart. Their loved ones are with God, but that's hard to remember when you're in shock. God Bless

    March 24, 2008 at 10:19 pm |
  8. leila

    Hillary says she was dodging bullets in Bosnia - she's either suffering from dementia, memory loss, or she's an outright liar, like her husband.

    James Carville who's a psycho thinks that because Bill Clinton gave jobs to Bill Richardson, that means Richardson is permanently "owned" by anyone that Clinton tells Richardson he has to serve. How does this differ from political slavery?

    Carville is from New Orleans where corruption is the norm for politicians. Send Carville back where he belongs - to the trash can along with his equals, i.e., Billary and their "claim" on the White House. What audacity!

    March 24, 2008 at 10:15 pm |
  9. Clen

    Here's another reason (among numerous other reasons) Hilary Clinton Can't and Won't Win

    She is a pathological liar and can't be trusted.
    A pattern has now emerged of the liar, this old hack is –the s-chip exaggeration, the Ireland peace exaggeration, the health care debacle, and now the sniper firing incident in Bosnia. And all she says is that she misspoke, which is another lie. These Clintons are the most disgusting self-serving charlatans America has ever seen. Look also at the kind of company they keep, like the Bayou Hill-Billy, Carvel, who recently called Gov. Richardson a Judas. So if the Governor is a Judas, who is Jesus –Bill Clinton? If so, does this mean that everyone that has ever worked with Bill Clinton must owe loyalty to Hillary or even Chelsea? This is nauseating. America better watch out for these shameless Clintons.

    March 24, 2008 at 10:14 pm |
  10. larry Haywood

    When I continously hear the news commentators talk about what pastor Wright has said from his pulpit I get angry. He's not teaching or preaching hate. And, Obama shouldn't have to continue apologizing for those remarks.

    I can remember during my life time how white ministers were really preaching hate from the pulpit. Black Americans were dying because of what was being said and I have never heard no one and I mean no one apologize for the agony that was caused by white ministers.

    Why don't the news media talk about that part of history that young people need know about. Believe me it hasn't been that long ago!

    Larry Haywood

    March 24, 2008 at 10:10 pm |
  11. Lostfigs

    This is not fair. She was a First Lady and the threat of Sniper Fire is always present.

    March 24, 2008 at 10:04 pm |
  12. Lostfigs

    First of all, Anderson, Hillary never said she had to duck, she said she was warned about it. When I was stationed in Landstuhl, Germany in 2005, Laura Bush came to visit the troops and for a week prior the Secret Service blocked off all the window for fear of sniper fire. Why would it be so ridiculous to think that Hillary, as First Lady, would be warned about the possibility of sniper fire when visiting a war zone?

    March 24, 2008 at 10:03 pm |
  13. Lorie Ann, Buellton, California

    Hi Erica,
    I also had a close family member die in a boating accident. It was two weeks before his body was recovered. A long, heartbreaking wait. My thoughts go out to the crew and families of the Alaska Ranger.

    Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif.

    March 24, 2008 at 9:54 pm |
  14. erica hill

    Bill, those numbers from your graduating class are unbelievable. A niece of one of the victims said her uncle died doing what he loved, and she believed this is how any fisherman would want to pass on, doing what he/she loved... but it is heartbreaking.

    March 24, 2008 at 9:46 pm |
  15. James Priest

    Every branch of all services must be pissed off to the max,Hiliary lying about coming under a sniper attack in Bosnia. I,am vetean of four wars and this is not funny.Todate 4000 of my fellow comradshas paid the ultimate price andthousnds more wounded or now homeless. You shoud be ashamed and embarssed to the max.

    How could you possibly get confused with going on a picnic with friends verses getting shot at,wake up america with this out of touch basket case.

    March 24, 2008 at 9:23 pm |
  16. Jennifer - Michigan

    Hi Erica,
    I like your blog tonight. It puts a lot into perspective. Life is a gift; everyday. We are so blessed, that's for sure! It's just hard to see it sometimes. It's been weird lately, the news, life in general. A friend of mine (the nicest guy-would do anything to help people) got into a terrible car accident and died along with his 6 year old daughter last week. So sad, I'm having a hard time understanding it. Anyway, guess that's part of life too, we all keep pushing on. Thanks for sharing your thoughts today.

    March 24, 2008 at 9:10 pm |
  17. jimmy velman

    For a Full TEXT of Obama's Pastor Wright's anti-american, Anti-White
    sermons on the pulpit, See CNN'c Rick Sanchez show. I think it was shown this easter weekend, but I'm sure it will be shown again , because it really shows the truth of the Pastor's racism. The sermons shown on youtube were dismissed by some as being taken out of context. They were not. So just see CNN's full sermon on the Rick Sanchez show.. It will blow you over.

    March 24, 2008 at 9:09 pm |
  18. Kelly

    Seriously guys, if a white male had made the same kind of comments that Revern Wright had, there would be total anger in the some black communities. It seems that Barrack Obama gives a great speech and the tough questions seem to just go away. Well done guys. Well, I will tell you, many Americans will remember that Senator Obama sat with his children, yes, in the pews and allowed them to listen to a man that instead of using Jesus as he was, full of love and forgiveness, instead comes accross as a shouting sermon to incite anger and more buildup of hard feelings on both sides. That is not the audacity of hope for anyone, but then again I could be just a typical white person. Talk about stereotyping.

    March 24, 2008 at 8:42 pm |
  19. Tammy

    The first story is just so sad. My great-uncle died in a pleasure boating accident when he was in his early thirties, and it still haunts our family over 40 years later. Not the same thing, but loss on the water is tragic nevertheless.

    The bread story in Egypt just makes me realize again how good I have it in the US and how I need an attitude of gratitude that I am so blessed, that our nation is so blessed.

    Finally, the story about this young man is just amazing. Honestly, my living will directives are sort of scaring me after this story (like what if both doctors declare me dead after extensive testing, they are ready to harvest my organs, and really I'm quite alive in there-eeks). This guy blows the logic behind living wills apart to an extent. I still think they are good, but miracles obviously happen and families shouldn't give up until the absolute end. Proof that we really aren't in charge as much as we'd like to believe.

    March 24, 2008 at 8:32 pm |
  20. Priya

    Wow Erica! You sure brought out such touching stories. I had not read ony of these. Great job on your research.

    You are so right – all these stories surely caliberate one's perspective! We get upset over such trivialities in our daily life!

    March 24, 2008 at 8:31 pm |
  21. Heather

    We watch Deadliest Catch too. My husband and I were listening to CNN on our Sirius radio and we looked at each other as were heard the news. We were driving doing our errands and I kept thinking of the episodes we had watched when a ship had gone under or one or two crew members had gotton pulled in from having their feet in the line. They literally risk their lives so we have crab to eat. They work insanely long hours in horrible weather. I have never looked at crab the same way again.

    March 24, 2008 at 8:22 pm |
  22. Kathy, Chicago

    In our busy lives we forget what some people go through to earn a living and that we are really expected to help those less fortunate then ourselves. Thanks for bringing that back to us. We also seem to forget that miracles happen every day. We need to take the time to look for them.

    March 24, 2008 at 8:17 pm |
  23. comfortablynumb

    Erica, I love your posts. They always seem to deviate from the daily norms, and lately I have had just about enough of the norms. I agree with you. I was reading into the Zach Dunlap story earlier today and it really opens our eyes to how fast our lives can change in a week or even a day, and not to take them for granted. And the bread crisis...it seems unworldly to me that people are starving from loss of food...its so sad. Thanks for another great blog.

    March 24, 2008 at 8:01 pm |
  24. Jolene

    Such a sad story about the Alaska Ranger. I didn't realize that fishing was the most dangerous occupation in 2005. I hope they find out what caused the vessel to sink. It kind of makes you wonder, doesn't it?

    Subsidized bread? That's just wrong. Who would have ever imagined a black market for flour. Sounds like the U.S. isn't the only country dealing with an ailing economy.

    Thanks for enlightening me today!

    Jolene, St. Joseph, MI

    March 24, 2008 at 7:55 pm |
  25. Lilibeth

    Hi Erica, your first story reminded me of the movie, "The Perfect Storm." Did you see it? It really makes you realize how dangerous it is to be a fisherman. After seeing that movie, I have more respect for them and I savor the fish I eat.

    The bread crisis in Egypt...this is bad because bread is their staple food. How can we help?

    I'm glad for Zach Dunlap...what a blessing to have another chance at life! His last comment made me wonder though...he said "Only the good die young, so I didn't go." I prefer to say "It isn't his time yet."

    See you tonight!

    Edmonds, Washington

    March 24, 2008 at 7:48 pm |
  26. Janna

    What an amazing and wonderful story about Zach Dunlap! It's also a bit distubing, however. Awful to say, but I imagine a family reading about this story who also had a brain dead relative who didn't survive....I'd be haunted with "what if"s...
    Maybe Dr. Gupta could give us more insight. How could someone with no brain activity remember hearing the doctors & eventually become physically responsive? Are brain scans reliable?
    Sorry to put a bad spin on it...I'd just like to learn more.
    Thank you for sharing it with us!

    March 24, 2008 at 7:47 pm |
  27. Sherri

    Regarding the item on Drew Peterson. This man retired with a $6,000.00 a month pension. How many other men, or more commonly women, with four children has that kind of income and can be at home? Very few I suspect. Granted- he is innocent until proven guilty- he also possesses the skills to make his innocence apparent. I'm sorry his children must endure the media attention, but I don't feel sorry for him. Who seeks out a spouse thirty years their junior? There are a lot of repugnant facets to this man. It only takes one minute piece of evidence to bring someone to justice. Now that his neighbors and friends are voicing their experiences, perhaps that evidence will come to light. His past behavior drew this public opinion of him- he owns that entirely. I shudder to think what he might have done while on active duty, given his personality and demeanor in public.

    March 24, 2008 at 7:42 pm |
  28. Bill in Nebraska


    I grew up in Seattle and in my graduating class there are less than 70 out of over 600 left. About 2/3 of the kids have been lost at sea. There are lots of fishing accidents and I have lost many friends to Dutch Harbor and the area around it. One of my better friends in High School lost his father, brother, sister, and 4 cousins in the same day on two different boats that they owned. They both went down within 20 minutes of each other after a long hard day.

    It is one of the hardest livings anyone can ever have. I just pray that all of my other friends and the ones I have known for more than 20 years on "The Deadliest Catch" continue to be safe and make it back home every time.

    My heart goes out to the families that have been affected by this event. I wish them all the best and will mourn there loss just like my own of all of my classmates.

    March 24, 2008 at 7:03 pm |
  29. Debra Ray

    I work in a small town..Automotive Supplier. There is a UAW strike happening right now ( American Axle),which has caused a ripple affect to our small town. I cannot find information on the World News about a strike that is affecting 68,000 ( General Motor) employees and thousands more with the supplier base. This has halted production for many people.. affecting the ECONOMY and there are no related BIG issues on our world news.. can you help me understand this matter?

    March 24, 2008 at 6:47 pm |
  30. Annie Kate

    Hi Erica

    The story about the young man who had been declared dead but wasn't is uplifting but scary as well. In light of his case just how do the doctors decide if one is dead or not?

    I enjoy your segments on 360 and the stories you have done. As Ross said the banter is great too. So glad you are on the 360 team now!!

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    March 24, 2008 at 6:44 pm |
  31. Ross Saunders

    in a world wrought with too many negatives, it is wonderful to watch Anderson and yourself banter back and forth with your collective dry sense humour. i have a little chuckle as i head off to bed, with the feeling that all is not bad in our chaotic world.
    keep up the good work erica.
    ross ontario canada

    March 24, 2008 at 6:17 pm |

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.