Larry King TV Interview on death of Mike Tyson's Daughter - CNN Transcript
By Johnny Benz, Benz Report for Doghouse Boxing (May 27, 2009)  
CNN Transcript of the Larry King Show that aired on TV last night. - Good evening. Lionel Richie and Nicole Richie were scheduled to be here tonight. Due to breaking news developments in many areas, they graciously agreed to be here Thursday night and for the whole hour.

Late today, we learned that the 4-year-old daughter of boxer Mike Tyson died. Police said little Exodus either slipped or put her head in the loop of a cord hanging under the console of a treadmill. Her 7-year-old brother found her and told their mother. She took Exodus off the cord, called 911 and tried to revive her.

Responding officers and firefighters performed CPR as they took the girl to the hospital.

Joining us, Sergeant Andy Hill, with the Phoenix Police Department.

And then on the phone, Dr. Charles Rosen, clinical professor of spinal surgery, U.C. Irvine Medical Center and Larry Stone, founder and president of Safety Matters.

OK, Sergeant, what happened?

SGT. ANDY HILL, PHOENIX POLICE DEPARTMENT PUBLIC AFFAIRS BUREAU:

A terrible tragedy, Larry. The mother was at home with a 7- and 4-year-old. Unbeknownst to her, the young Exodus got on that treadmill, somehow worked that cord out of the underneath of the console, got caught it, strangled. The mom was looking for the daughter and actually sent the 7-year-old to see what the sister was doing, found her and called mom.

And she began CPR, called us. And at this point, after a thorough investigation, it appears that it's nothing except a horrible tragedy.

KING: Do you ever get one like this?

HILL: In 25 years, Larry, I haven't exactly this. But child safety issues and strangling on cords, whether they're blinds or harnesses, is something that does occur. You know when you look around, seeing things from the perspective of a child, from the ground up, makes things a lot different in terms of safety.

KING: We have a family statement about the death of young Exodus Tyson. It says: "There are no words to describe the tragic loss of our beloved Exodus. We ask you now to please respect our need at this very difficult time for privacy to grieve and try to help each other heal. Amen."

That's a very smart idea, in this day of tabloidism, to leave this family alone a while.

Is the first suspicion when you come to this, Sergeant, that -- do you look at a possible crime?

HILL: Well, you have to, Larry. That's our job, is to make sure we determine the facts. So you take all the -- the things that occur.

First off, when an officer is responding to a child in distress, it's one of the toughest things to do. You don't know whether that child is going to make it or not. You have to deal with the situation. We all have families. And it's unnatural to lose a child when you're a parent. So it's a tough situation to be in.

But as investigators, once you come to that scene, you have to begin from the outside in and look at everything to determine what the facts are.

In this case, we have consistent statements. We analyze the evidence at the scene. We're able to take a look at things through the child's perspective and to see how this could happen. And the only thing we don't have at this point, which we will, is a medical examiner's report sometime in the near future.

KING: She was put on life support, right, at the hospital? HILL: That's correct. She was pretty much needing life support from the get go, from the time we got there -- actually, from the time mom found her. So it was a -- it was a hall where she was pretty much unconscious and on life support the whole time since yesterday.

KING: Would you pretty much guess there -- she was in no pain?

HILL: Well, we don't know. Initially, you know, there's a struggle. A strangulation is a tough thing. I'm sure she was scared and suffering. And these are terrible things for any parent to think about their child going through.

KING: Do you know where Mike Tyson is?

HILL: Well, he's with the family. Mike was out of town yesterday in Las Vegas. He came in right away. We have had nothing but cooperation from the family. It's a -- it's a terrible thing and our hearts go out to all of them.

KING: Stay with us, Sergeant.

On the phone, Dr. Charles Rosen, clinical professor, spinal surgery at U.C. Irvine Medical Center.

What do you make of this from afar, Dr. Rosen?

DR. CHARLES ROSEN, CLINICAL PROFESSOR SPECIAL SURGERY, UCI MEDICAL CENTER: Well, the sergeant said about this terrible tragedy, it -- it sounds like it's from one of two things. People will, when they're strangled, they will either lose the oxygen supply to their brain, by either cutting off the blood circulation or the air directly. Or, being on a treadmill with her and if she was running, I am also suspicious that maybe when she got her head caught in that, that the weight of her body caused her neck to flex or extend very rapidly, which would have led to a spinal fracture. And that would have occurred instantaneously and severed the spinal cord, resulting in the same thing of her not breathing, basically.

So it's hard to know from what I've read which of the two occurred. It's a tragedy either way.

KING: Sergeant, do we know if the child was actually on the treadmill running?

HILL: Yes, Larry, I can help the doctor out with that one. Apparently, the treadmill was not plugged in. It was unplugged at the time, according to statements from the mom and from the forensic interview with the child.

So what happened was -- we believe the child was on the treadmill, but it was not running at the time. She might have been playing like it was and at some point got underneath that console, which, if you get on your knees underneath a treadmill and look up, you can see what I'm talking about, how that might occur -- and easy to reach up and get.

KING: We'll have more on the Tyson tragedy and how to ensure this doesn't happen to you and your child.

Larry Stone, the founder and president of the Safety Matters, will join the panel, right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Joining us by phone is Larry Stone, the founder and president of Safety Matters.

We have already given you the response of the family.

What can you tell us, Larry?

Was this preventable?

LARRY STONE, FOUNDER/PRESIDENT, SAFETY MATTERS: Well, all injuries are preventable. There are ways to baby-proof your home and do things around your home to help prevent injuries. But over 50,000 children a year do die from unintentional injuries in the home. And with strangulation, about a thousand children under 14 a year die from unintentional strangulation -- not always electrical cords. There's also the window cords and other ways. And 88 percent of those are under four years of age.

KING: Have you heard of any with regard to a treadmill?

STONE: Lots of injuries with treadmills, but not that type of a strangulation, no.

KING: What is Safety Matters?

STONE: Safety Matters is my company, that baby-proofs homes and also makes pools safe for children with sensors and nets and covers. And I've been in this for almost 20 years now and have done over 15,000 homes in the Chicago and area.

KING: Dr. Rosen, do you believe these are preventable?

ROSEN: Yes, I do. I think largely it's a matter of taking care of the more straightforward things. You mentioned about making sure there are no cords from the windows that are hanging and certainly always keeping the child in view.

A lot of the actual injuries from the window shades, from getting caught, end up being spinal fractures because of the quick flexion and extension that occurs.

So it's -- a lot of times, it's hard to know, because there's no postmortem that's done. But it's either often strangulation or a fracture of the neck.

KING: Joining us late in Phoenix is Marissa Wingate, a reporter with KTVK. Anything up to date, Marissa?

MARISSA WINGATE, REPORTER, KTVK-TV, PHOENIX: Well, Larry, this is the house where the family lived with her mother, who is Mike Tyson's ex-girlfriend, along with her brother -- her 7-year-old brother, who is also Mike Tyson's son. And he is the one who actually found his sister hanging there from the treadmill.

And we have seen family members come in and out of the house. They have not wanted to talk, though. And Tyson actually sent out a press release asking for his privacy at this time.

We have video of him, though, arriving to the airport -- to the hospital -- from the airport to the hospital yesterday. He flew in from Vegas around 3:00 in the afternoon. At that time, his daughter was on life support. Of course, now he is mourning her death.

Now, what we know happened -- what investigators are saying happened, a quick recap, is that his -- her mother, the 34-year-old mother was cleaning inside her house, in the kitchen. She sent her 7- year-old son to check on the 4-year-old daughter. That's when he found the 4-year-old hanging from a cord there on the treadmill.

Now, we've learned about two hours ago, of course, that the child was pronounced dead. The mother, of course, tried CPR. Investigators who arrived said the child was not breathing when they arrived, was not conscious, went to the hospital brain dead. She was on life support throughout the night, Larry.

But now we have learned that she has, indeed, passed away.

KING: This is -- Sergeant, this is one of those rough days to be a police officer, isn't it?

HILL: Oh, it certainly is, Larry. It's the worst thing you can have, really, is a child die. And when you're a police officer, you're also mourning with the family.

You know, it's tough on the family, but it's also a lot of other consequences, second and third order, when you have firefighters and police officers there. And, of course, the public, too, sees that.

And I really appreciate that you're bringing up the safety issues because I am sure that tonight you're probably going to save one child's life by bringing these folks on to talk about the safety.

KING: We sure hope so.

And they can contact Safety Matters where, Larry?

STONE: 1-800-9-SAFE-06 or SafetyMatters.com.

KING: Thank you all very much.

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