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tv   60 Minutes  CBS  June 5, 2022 7:00pm-8:00pm PDT

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captioning funded by cbs and ford. we go further, so you can. >> my first reaction was, "this isn't micron droplets that's coming out from the sea floor-- this is an underwater volcano." >> he is talking about the longest running oil spill in u.s. history. and tonight, you'll hear how this homegrown cajun engineer and this no-nonsense coast guard captain said "enough is enough," and hatched a plan-- first tried in a backyard pool-- to stanch a spill that has sullied the gulf of mexico for almost two decades. ( ticking ) >> i grew up a very, very mean woman because of all what
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happened to me. >> you learned that here, you think? >> yeah. >> she is not the only one. more than 150,000 children were sent to residential schools, which canada's first prime minister supported, to, in his words, "sever children from the tribe" and "civilize" them. >> my name was number 65 for all those years. >> just a number. >> just a number, yeah. "65, pick that up, stupid," or, "65, why'd you do that, idiot?" ( ticking ) >> how do you define "hero?" >> we define it as-- at least in terms of our medal-awarding termequirement-- as a man or a woman that willingly and knowingly risks their life, to an extraordinary degree, to save or attempt to save the life of another human being. >> thousands have been awarded the carnegie hero medal, along with a $5,500 prize. we wondered why some people are heroic, so we went to georgetown university to see the neuroscience for ourselves.
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( ticking ) >> i'm lesley stahl. >> i'm bill whitaker. >> i'm anderson cooper. >> i'm sharyn alfonsi. >> i'm jon wertheim. > i'm scott pelley. those stories, tonight, on "60 minutes." ( ticking ) vyvgart may increase the risk of infection. in a clinical study, the most common infections were urinary tract and respiratory tract infections. tell your doctor if you have a history of infections or if you have symptoms of an infection.
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nice and quiet. hey, look! it's your mom! hot dog? >> jon wertheim: the hurricanes keep coming, with increased force and increased frequency. even before hitting land, they're often wreaking havoc. katrina, sandy, ida-- name a tropical storm, and odds are good it's caused an off-shore oil spill. and these messes aren't easily
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cleaned up. tonight, we bring you a distinctly louisiana story, the saga of the taylor energy oil spill, a storm-caused environmental crisis that's sullied the gulf of mexico since 2004. then, along came an unlikely duo: a no-nonsense coast guard captain who said "enough is enough," and a homegrown cajun engineer who brought with him the power of local knowledge. together, they would resist a deep-pocketed energy company and help stanch the longest running oil spill in u.s. history. how many miles offshore are we now? >> timmy couvillion: we're about 12 miles offshore from the coast of louisiana. >> wertheim: a seventh- generation cajun, timmy couvillion grew up on the louisiana delta, where river mingles with sea. even as an engineering student, he moonlighted as a fishing captain. >> couvillion: i've caught, you know, 150-pound tunas this close. >> wertheim: he showed us the
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precise site of a ground- breaking contraption that's consumed him lately. we're right above it now, aren't we? >> couvillion: yes, sir. the taylor energy platform would be laying on its side, just below us. >> wertheim: his engineering company has conceived of and installed a system to help contain a stubborn oil spill. it's directly below this spot, nearly 500 feet underwater. >> couvillion: if we didn't have g.p.s. coordinates, we wouldn't know that we had a functioning system that was actively collecting 1,000 gallons of oil a day. >> wertheim: catch that? an average of 1,000 gallons of oil a day, that would otherwise be contaminating the gulf of mexico. it's being captured by timmy couvillion's system and transferred to these tanks to be sold later as recycled oil. >> couvillon: 100,000 gallons is a major oil spill. this is seven major oil spills that we've collected, since april of 2019. >> wertheim: how many years you been doing this? >> couvillon: two years. >> wertheim: the mouth of the
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mississippi forms the heart of louisiana commerce. this region is nourished by a mix of fish, water, gas and oil. but increasingly, both the terrain and the economy are getting beaten up by mother nature. in 2004, hurricane ivan devastated the gulf, including bringing down this massive oil platform operated by taylor energy. couvillion made this video simulation of what likely happened. >> couvillion: to see the energy that it took to shear the legs of this eight-pile platform, the taylor energy platform, it's hard to comprehend. >> wertheim: the underwater mudslide toppled the oil platform, damaging the connections to as many as 28 oil wells below. to this day, the structure lies horizontally on the floor of the gulf. the sheen caused by the oil spill spread for miles. for years, ships travelingslick.
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pools of oil that bubbled up to the surface. and marine life, like these schools of giant amberjack, had to swim through the muck. how could this spill have gone on for 17 years and counting without much public awareness? for one, taylor energy is not a fortune 500 giant, but a local company-- and a beloved one at that. for people not from here, who are the taylors of taylor energy? >> pat mcshane: this is a family which has built its reputation as a benevolent community corporate citizen of the highest order. >> wertheim: pat mcshane is a prominent louisiana maritime lawyer, whose clients include timmy couvillion. he says that in new orleans society, the taylors are known for their educational philanthropy. >> pat taylor: how you doing, man? i'm pat taylor. nice seeing you. how ya'll been? >> wertheim: in 1989, "60 minutes" reported on the taylors' generosity. when the spill occurred, locals assumed the taylors would clean it up. >> mcshane: taylor has been tasked under the federal oil
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pollution act with the responsibility for containing the oil and coming up with a permanent solution. and during that time, they worked hand and glove with the united states government. >> wertheim: the u.s. government makes money-- billions, in fact, leasing offshore oil rights. so, when there is an oil spill, the government has ultimate authority. but we were surprised to learn how much the government relies on the leasing oil companies themselves to lead the recovery efforts. people might hear the story and say, "wait a second, it's up to the oil companies to give the estimate how severe this is?" >> kristi luttrell: it is. and, in general, the industry's very responsible in reporting those type of amounts and even cleaning up the-- the spill and securing the source. >> wertheim: captain kristi luttrell, a veteran of the coast guard, was placed in charge of overseeing te taylor energy spill in 2018. >> luttrell: this is the biggest pollution response case i'll see in my 28-year career. >> wertheim: taylor energy was required by federal law to set
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aside $666 million in a trust to fund clean-up costs. taylor says that by 2011, it had spent hundreds of millions to plug nine of the most active wells at the site. then, in 2013, taylor energy, along with u.s. government agencies including the coast guard, issued this report concluding the best option was to leave the underwater site alone. it said only small amounts of oil-- "about three gallons per day"-- were likely flowing, and further action could hurt the environment. for years, they were claiming this was about three gallons a day, not 1,000. three gallons a day that was seeping out. >> luttrell: i honestly could not speak for their opinions on their science. >> wertheim: but measuring oil spills deep underwater is difficult, and estimates varied wildly, depending on the source of the data. captain luttrell says that by 2018, the coast guard had access to improved sonar, revealing
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that oil was still escaping-- a lot of it. >> luttrell: we believe there's multiple wells still leaking inside the erosional pit at the site. >> wertheim: at what point did you say, "you know what? enough. the coast guard's going to take over this containment"? >> luttrell: i came to that decision sometime in late summer of 2018. it didn't take me long to realize that we were going to go ahead and have to federalize this case, when i didn't feel like i was getting a timely response out of the responsible party. >> wertheim: luttrell says she was concerned that taylor energy was, in her words, "not acting in a timely manner," and she took over control of the containment, putting out a call for bids for a temporary solution to collect any flowing oil. timmy couvillion's louisiana firm competed with other engineering contractors to come up with an invention. >> jack couch: i've worked with timmy at oceaneering. >> wertheim: couvillion summoned two friends, former colleagues. they began with a basic concept: oil and water don't mix. >> couch: i had invented the underwater separator. >> wertheim: jack couch is a
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longtime expert deep sea diver; dr. kevin kennelley, a.k.a doctor k, is an engineer. the "three amigos," they called themselves, hunkered down in timmy couvillion's man cave in belle chasse, louisiana, taking breaks only to shoot pool and eat po' boys. take me back to when you guys were using this room to solve problems. >> doctor k: well, i remember jack sat there, timmy sat there, and i sat over here. we each had a desk. >> wertheim: it took the three amigos five days before, as they put it, they went "from can't to can." >> couch: there was even no moving parts. there's no pumps, no nothing. we just used the natural buoyancy of the luids and stuff. >> couvillon: i looked at them, and i'm like, "is there any reason why this won't work?" ( laughs ) >> wertheim: they even tested their invention in the backyard pool. >> doctor k: we did everything, from test it in a swimming pool to full-scale tests in-- in very, very large tanks, to make sure that it worked. >> wertheim: against steep competition, their proposal was chosen by the coast guard in late 2018.
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the blue box would act like a cap, which collects the leaking oil and gas. that would get separated in the white tank, and then the oil would go to storage in the yellow tubes. from there, it would be pumped off to a ship each month. but couvillion had to make the concept a reality, and the clock was ticking. >> couvillion: it was about december-- december 15. we were onsite with our r.o.v.s, which is a remotely operated vehicle. so, an underwater robot. >> wertheim: couvillion's team dropped the r.o.v. to get detailed sonar images of what was going on 470 feet down. he says he was shocked by what he saw in his images. the red represents plumes of oil and gas spewing in front of the downed platform. this is what you're seeing after you have the contract. >> couvillion: that's right. my first reaction was, "this isn't micron droplets that's coming out fromthe sea floor. this is an underwater volcano." >> wertheim: couvillion's crew put more than 200 tons of steel
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pieces together using enormous cranes, teams of expert sea divers, and multiple remote operated vehicles. to get a sense of proportion, note the size of the men compared to the equipment. >> luttrell: i did not sleep very well those nights that i knew the divers were out and about on the seafloor in almost 500 feet of water. and i was concerned about the crane failing and that much weight dropping. >> wertheim: spring of 2019 brought the moment of truth. this wasn't testing a simulation in a backyard pool. this was the real thing, a $43 million system in the gulf. >> couvillion: when we opened up the valves and, less than a day later, the sheen had largely disappeared, we knew we had really done something. it was awesome. >> wertheim: a good day for the environment? >> couvillion: oh, no doubt. look, nobody wants oil in their backyard, right? we proved that we can clean up our mess, right? >> wertheim: you send it 500 feet down and, dang, it's working. >> luttrell: it was simple, yet
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effective. and i give the engineers credit for coming up with that design. >> wertheim: but like the muddy mississippi itself, this tale has no clear endpoint. taylor energy headed straight to court. in total, it's filed more than ten separate suits in conjunction with the oil spill, including one against couvillion. the claim: he was trespassing, and was negligent. taylor's lawyer also told the court: >> we very much dispute that these activities need to be going on out there at this point in time, or that this is even taylor energy oil out there at this point in time. >> wertheirm: in response, couvillion's maritime lawyer, pat mcshane, characterized taylor's allegations as "pernicious." and he pointed us to a wealth of evidence indicating that the oil was indeed taylor's. >> mcshane: the national oceanic atmospheric administration, the united states coast guard, have taken all manner of visual evidence of the plumes coming out of the seabed right at the platform.
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when you say "that's not our oil" against this overwhelming evidence, you're playing some different kind of game. >> wertheim: couvillion, a former louisiana state wrestling champion, says he's not backing down from the fight. you're working to fix a problem that an oil company was responsible for, and now they're suing you? >> couvillion: kind of crazy, isn't it? it's intimidation by litigation. >> wertheim: taylor energy also filed legal action against captain kristi luttrell, arguing that she overstepped her coast guard authority. you've been named personally. how do you perceive this situation? >> luttrell: as the federal on-scene coordinator, i used my authority to do the right thing and to protect the environment. >> wertheim: phyllis taylor, c.e.o. of taylor energy, declined our interview request. the company said in a statement that it, "has retained and relied upon the world's foremost experts to study and then recommend a plan of action we continue to advocate for a response driven by science." taylor lost its case against couvillion and an action to
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recover the $432 million still left in that clean-up trust. "60 minutes" has learned that taylor is now in mediation with the government to conclude all the outstanding litigation at once. asked why he thinks taylor resisted so intensely, timmy couvillion doesn't hesitate. >> couvillion: that's the $432 million question, you know. in this case, it seems like if you follow the money, you'd have a better chance of getting your answer. >> wertheim: what would you say to phyllis taylor, if she were sitting right here? >> couvillion: i'd just want to know, why? why are we at this point? someone that has given so much to our state-- why would you continue to allow this oil spill to happen in our gulf waters? >> wertheirm: after our story first aired, taylor energy dissolved as a company, settling all remaining cases, agreeing to hand over $475 million to the federal government for clean-up and penalties. couvillion's system is still plugging away.
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as of this spring, it's captured more than one million gallons of spilled oil. ( ticking ) . >> and now he's taking trulicity, and it looks like he's gotten into some new healthier habits, too. what changes are you making for your type 2 diabetes? maybe it's time to try trulicity. it's proven to help lower a1c. it can help you lose up to 10 pounds. and it's only taken once a week, so it can fit into your busy life. trulicity is for type 2 diabetes. it isn't for people with type 1 diabetes. it's not approved for use in children. don't take trulicity if you're allergic to it, you or your family have medullary thyroid cancer, or have multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2. op trulicity and call your doctor right away if you have an allergic reaction, a lump or swelling in your neck, severe stomach pain, changes in vision, or diabetic retinopathy. serious side effects may include pancreatitis. taking trulicity with sulfonylurea or insulin raises low blood sugar risk.
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>> anderson cooper: last year, when archeologists detected what they believed to be 200 unmarked graves at an old school in canada, it brought new attention to one of the most shameful chapters of that nation's history. starting in the 1880s, and for much of the 20th century, more than 150,000 children from hundreds of indigenous communities across canada were forcibly taken from their parents by the government and sent to what were called residential schools. funded by the state and run by churches, they were designed to assimilate and christianize indigenous children by ripping them from their parents, their culture, and their community. the children were often referred
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to as savages and forbidden from speaking their languages or practicing their traditions. as we first reported earlier this year, many were physically and sexually abused, and thousands of children never made it home. the last of canada's 139 residential schools for indigenous children closed in 1998. most have been torn down. but the muskowekwan residential school in saskatchewan still stands. its windows boarded up. its rooms gutted. a reminder to a nation that would rather forget. a three-story tombstone, for generations of children who died here. >> leona wolf: sometimes, i wish it would be gone, for all what happened here. >> cooper: you wish this had been torn down? >> wolf: yeah. i could hear everything in here, what was done. it lingers. >> cooper: leona wolf, who comes from the muskowekwan reserve, was five years old when she says she was taken from her home in 1960. school officials and police
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would often show up unannounced in indigenous communities and round up children, some as young as three. parents could be jailed if they refused to hand their children over. when kids arrived at their schools, their traditional long hair was shaved off. if they tried to speak their language, they were often punished. >> wolf: they put me in a little dark room, like that. and they'd shut the door and then they'd take off the light. all i had to look through was this much light, like i was in jail. >> cooper: she says the abuse many kids at muskowekwan suffered from the catholic priests and nuns wasn't just physical. >> wolf: father joyal was fondling the girls here. >> cooper: a priest, father joyal, was fondling girls in this room? >> wolf: yeah. this used to be sick bay. they used to have a bed here. >> cooper: and he would take girls into the bed? >> wolf: yeah. my cousin. >> cooper: he took your cousin in here? how old was she?
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>> wolf: she was only eight. i grew up a very, very mean woman, because of all what happened to me. >> cooper: you learned that here, you think? >> wolf: yeah. >> cooper: she is not the only one. more than 150,000 children were sent to residential schools, which canada's first prime minister supported, to, in his words, "sever children from the tribe" and "civilize" them. for much of the 20th century, the canadian government supported that mission. this report aired in 1955. >> they learn not only games and traditions, such as the celebration of saint valentine's day, but the mastery of words. >> cooper: the idea for the schools came in part from the united states. in 1879, the carlisle indian industrial school opened in pennsylvania, where this photo was taken of native american children when they first arrived. this is them four months later. the school's motto was "kill the
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indian, save the man." >> chief wilton littlechild: consequently, ours was, "kill the indian in the child." >> cooper: "kill the indian in the child." >> littlechild: mm-hmm. >> cooper: that was the guiding principle here in canada. >> littlechild: yeah. >> cooper: chief wilton littlechild, who is cree, was six years old when he was taken to this residential school in alberta. then, he says, he was given a new name. >> littlechild: my name was number 65 for all those years. >> cooper: just a number. >> littlechild: just a number, yeah. "65, pick that up, stupid," or, "65, why'd you do that, idiot?" >> cooper: what does that feel like, at six years old, to be called a number? >> littlechild: well, i think that's where the trauma begins. not just the physical abuse-- psychological abuse, spiritual abuse. and worst of all, sexual abuse. >> cooper: you were sexually abused. >> littlechild: yes. i think that's where my anger began as a young boy. >> cooper: chief littlechild says he was able to take some of
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that anger out on the school's hockey rink. he won a scholarship to university, and graduated, eventually going on to a distinguished career in law. but, his story is the exception. >> littlechild: they didn't kill my spirit. so, i'm still cree. i'm still who i am. i'm not 65. my name is mahigan pimoteyw. so, they didn't kill my spirit. >> cooper: in 2008, after thousands of school survivors filed lawsuits, the canadian government formally apologized for its policies. it also set up a $1.9 billion compensation fund, and established a truth and reconciliation commission that chief littlechild helped lead. for six years, the commission heard testimony from survivors across the country. >> helen quewezance: and she put me underwater, slapping me and hitting me, slapping me and hitting me, and punching me and punching me, and holding me
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under water, pulling my hair, and i thought, god, she's going to kll me, i'm going to die first day of school. >> ted quewezance: we, as little boys and little girls, we lost our innocence. >> cooper: in 2015, the commission concluded what happened was "cultural genocide." it identified more than 3,000 children who died from disease due to overcrowding, malnutrition, and poor sanitation, or died after being abused or trying to run away. a government study in 1909 found the death rate in some schools was as high as 20 times the national average. most schools had their own cemeteries, and sometimes when children died, their parents were never informed. >> littlechild: it's really traumatic for those families who don't know what happened to their child or relative in the
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schools. >> cooper: why weren't kids who died at the schools, why weren't they sent home? >> littlechild: to save money. >> cooper: last year, archeologists detected what they said could be 200 unmarked graves at this former school in kamloops, british columbia. weeks later, a further 751 unmarked graves were detected across from the former marieval residential school on the cowessess reserve in saskatchewan. there was once a catholic cemetery here, but the headstones were bulldozed in the 1960s by a priest, after a dispute with a former chief. and what were these lists for? a small team of researchers has been trying to discover the names of those children buried here, but for decades, the government and the church had been reluctant to share their records. chief cadmus delorme is trying to get answers. do you know that they're all children? >> chief cadmus delorme: we can't verify how much are children, but based on the research we're doing, a lot of
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them were children that were forced to go to the marieval residential school, and died in the marieval residential school. >> cooper: chief delorme says he hopes to give the unidentified children a dignity in death that they never received in life. >> delorme: i want to make sure that canada knows the truth, because you can't move to reconciliation until you accept the truth. >> cooper: the discoveries of the graves opened deep wounds. more than a dozen churches have been vandalized or destroyed, and thousands have marched, demanding the pope apologize and the churches open archives to help identify any missing children. indigenous communities across the country have begun conducting their own searches, using ground-penetrating radar. >> kisha supernant: we've laid out a number of grids throughout this landscape. >> cooper: archeologists kisha supernant and terry clark say 35 unmarked graves have been discovered at the muskowekwan school. >> terry clark: there is
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something going on there that is not natural. >> cooper: when we were there this past october, they found what appeared to be another. according to survivor accounts, children sometimes had to dig their classmates' graves. the priests or the school officials would force the kids to dig other children's graves? >> supernant: yep, yep. can you imagine being, like, ten or 11, and digging a grave for your classmate-- what that must have been like? >> cooper: kisha supernant says the search for unmarked graves will continue for years. >> supernant: this is very emotional work. it's very devastating work. it's heartbreaking for everyone who's involved. >> cooper: you feel that, too? >> supernant: i do. our communities still feel the impacts of these institutions in our everyday lives. we're way over-represented in child welfare and adoptions and foster care. we're way over-represented in the prisons. you can draw a direct line with that to these places, and the pain of that, that has been passed on from generation to generation.
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>> ed bitternose: i started school here in 1958. >> cooper: ed bitternose, who is cree, understands that pain. he was eight years old when he was taken to the muskowekwan school. his parents lived within sight of the school, and when he tried to run away, he says the priests forced him to kneel on a broom handle for three days. >> bitternose: that's where my house was. i would sit here and wonder why i couldn't be home. >> cooper: that must have been devastating. >> bitternose: yeah. >> cooper: it wasn't only adults he feared. some students, themselves victims of abuse, preyed on other children. >> cooper: were you abused here? >> bitternose: yeah, mm-hmm. actually, in this room here, by one of the-- one of the-- one of the boys. >> cooper: in this very room? >> bitternose: this very area here. >> cooper: later, he says, he was also sexually molested by a nun. when he left school, he was
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rudderless and violent, and turned to alcohol. when he got married, he says, he didn't know how to show affection. you didn't know what love was? >> bitternose: no. no. because i never felt it here. i didn't start saying i loved her till we were married about 40 years, and then i was very careful how i said it. >> cooper: you didn't say to your wife for 40 years that you loved her? >> bitternose: mm-hmm, yeah. >> cooper: he says his life changed when he began rediscovering his cree culture. raising buffalo and sharing traditional knowledge with children brought healing, and finally, an understanding of the word love. you can say that now? >> bitternose: i can say that now. and-- and it feels good. and i still joke with my wife about that. "don't say that too loud," you know. >> cooper: so, you can say it, you just don't want to say it too loud? >> bitternose: yes, uh-huh. yeah. >> cooper: okay. you know what? it's better than nothing. >> bitternose: yes, that's what she says.
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>> cooper: as for leona wolf, her life and the lives of her children and grandchildren have been plagued by violence and substance abuse-- intergenerational trauma, she says, that began the day her own mother was sent to school at muskowekwan. did you see the impact of this place on your mom? >> wolf: yeah. yeah. >> cooper: how? >> wolf: yeah, by drinking a lot, being mean to me. and it impact us, me and my brother, and my siblings. >> cooper: what was done to her, she passed on to you. and what was done to you and others here... >> wolf: was passed on to my children. this is why sometimes i go into my rage of anger, and i cry, because it all-- it was all done to us, all of us. but it's going to stop now, you know? it is. >> cooper: you believe that? >> wolf: i'm going to-- i'm breaking the cycle, with my great-grandchildren.
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hail mary, full of grace. >> cooper: leona wolf has returned to her traditions as well. walking the halls of muskowekwan, she began to sing "hail mary," a prayer she was forced to learn here long ago. >> wolf: ♪ hey-a, hey-a, hey-o hey, hey-o, hey-a, hey-a ♪ hey, hey-a, hey, hey-a, hey-a hey-o ♪ >> cooper: now, she sings it her own way. >> wolf: ♪ hey, hey-a, hey-a hey-a, hey-o ♪ >> cooper: that's not how you sang it here when you were in school, though, was it? >> wolf: nope. >> cooper: you made peace with the virgin mary by singing that song? >> wolf: yeah, and i made peace with myself. >> cooper: last april at the vatican, pope francis apologized to canada's indigenous peoples for the "deplorable" abuses they suffered in catholic-run residential schools. he'll travel to canada next month to make the apology in person. ( ticking ) cbs sports hq is presented by
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progressive insurance. today at the memorial tournament 0 presented by workday floridian shot a final round 72 for his seventh career title. meantime, in the nhl playoffs, eastern conference finals the lightning defeated the rangers in game 3. for 24/7 news and highlights visit,
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( ticking ) >> scott pelley: in 1904, 180 americans were trapped by fire in a pennsylvania coal mine. two heroes went in to save them, but the rescuers and all but one of the miners perished. still, that act of heroism touched one of the richest americans-- a man whose steel mills were fired by coal. andrew carnegie donated more than $100 million in today's money to recognize heroes in the u.s. and canada.
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as we first reported last fall, a good deal has changed in 118 years-- thousands have been awarded the carnegie hero medal, and advances in neuroscience are revealing why some of us may be heroic. we'll get to the science. but first, meet some of the carnegie heroes, including terryann thomas. >> terryann thomas: i remember thinking just almost instantly, "i am not going let somebody die." >> pelley: terryann thomas was a civilian overseeing confiscated property at the headquarters of the topeka police department. in 2015, an agitated man came into the basement property room to demand his bicycle. thomas turned to find it. >> thomas: as soon as i turned around and started to walk off, i heard a scream. >> pelley: the scream came from officer tammy walter. for reasons we don't know, she'd been attacked by the man in the
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property room waiting area. thomas hit a panic alarm and charged out of her locked room. >> thomas: and so, as i ran out there, i saw there was blood on the wall, and she was down. and she was not moving. and i went over there, and i pulled him off of her. he looked at me, and he punched me in the face. he turned around, and he started back on her. he's kicking her while she's on the ground, and constantly punching her, so i went and grabbed him again, and i pulled him off. >> pelley: help was slow in coming. it seems no one had triggered the panic alarm before, so the cops upstairs weren't sure what it meant. >> thomas: he grabbed something off her gun belt, and i thought, "okay, he has her gun. this whole thing has just changed." he hit the elevator button, and
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he looked at me, and he said, "you're coming with me." >> pelley: later, it turned out it was the officer's radio the man had, not her gun. but thomas didn't know that in the fight. what happened then? >> thomas: and so, i put my foot in the door. it opened up. and with everything i had, i grabbed him, and i pulled him out of the elevator. and just as soon as we got out, i ran to the door. i opened it, and i just started screaming. and that's when all the officers came in and took him down. >> pelley: a topeka cop reported that story to the pittsburgh headquarters of the carnegie hero fund commission. eric zahren is president of the commission. he's a former secret service agent. >> eric zahren: well, we look at up to 1,000 cases a year, and we award about just a little over 10% of that. so, in recent years, that equates to about 80 cases a year.
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>> pelley: how do you define "hero"? >> zahren: and we define it as-- at least in terms of our medal- awarding requirement-- as a man or a woman that willingly and knowingly risks their life to an extraordinary degree to save or attempt to save the life of another human being. >> pelley: what are some of the things that your investigators go through when they're investigating a case? >> zahren: we write to or contact police departments, fire departments, the victim in the case who was the rescued party, and other eyewitnesses to the act, and we start to build an understanding of each case. >> pelley: and this is the medal. the carnegie medal, molded in bronze, comes with $5,500, and other financial support. >> zahren: we also pay for funeral costs fully for a hero that is killed in the act. we pay any medical costs for any injury that they incur, to include psychological after- effects, p.t.s.d. we don't present a medal and walk away. we stay there, and we stay there for the hero's lifetime and sometimes far beyond.
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i mean, we were recently looking at a case that, you know, a gentleman was killed in his heroic act, and we supported his wife and then one of his daughters for a total of 72 years until his daughter died. >> pete pontzer: on the beach, on that day, i just reacted. >> pelley: pete pontzer fit the carnegie definition of hero. he was on a north carolina beach in 2015 when someone pointed to a boy swept away by a rip current. pontzer and another man swam about 150 yards. >> pontzer: and we found a young teenager, 13-year-old boy, and water was starting to wash over his face. >> pelley: this is the boy after they swam him back to shore. >> pontzer: as we get to the beach, a church youth group leader comes out and meets with us, and he says, "thank you. there's another one." >> pelley: a second boy was drowning. pontzer ran, broke his foot, ignored it, and swam out. he eventually lost sight of the
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boy, but the child was pulled from the water by others and flown to a hospital. so, why you? >> pontzer: i didn't think about it. it's kind of like, if you put your hand on a hot stove and pull it back right away without thinking-- that's kind of what it was like for me. it just needed to be done. and i did it. >> pelley: it was the same reaction for david mccartney, when fate arrived on a two-lane road in indiana. >> david mccartney: i was heading south, and there was a vehicle that seemed like it was going a little bit left, a little bit right. then, all of a sudden, it went right, and it hit a culvert. >> pelley: what happened next? >> mccartney: you could start seeing smoke. it was starting to bellow out. and you could start hearing miss testerman, who i come to find out was starting to scream because the vehicle was actually starting to catch on fire. >> pelley: elizabeth testerman was trapped. >> mccartney: she's sitting there, screaming. underneath, the dash is on fire. the smoke's just going through your nose, and you're trying to figure out, well, what to do now?
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>> pelley: mccartney and another man kicked in her windshield and cut her seatbelt with a knife. >> mccartney: we pull her feet out, and then we kind of wiggle up to that windshield that was kicked out. and then, we pulled her over to the grass and laid her down. >> pelley: a minute later, he told us, the car exploded. that fear of dying in a car is well-known to abigaih.but wassa. at age 19, she was on an interstate at night and swerved she went into a spin, which left her facing lanes of high-speed traffic in a car she couldn't restart. >> marsh: and i spent some amount of time 100% certain i was about to die. i mean, i was, snap, you know. any one of these cars hadn't swerved in time, and i definitely would've been dead. >> pelley: what happened? >> marsh: i hear a rap on the passenger-side window, and i see a man's face staring into my car. and he said, "you look like you
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could use some help." >> pelley: the stranger got her car started and drove her to safety. his act of heroism led her to become dr. abigail marsh, a neuroscientist who studies what gets into the heads of heroes. at georgetown university, she has published studies on the brains of two kinds of people-- psychopaths, who have no compassion for others, and people who have so much compassion that they donated a kidney to a stranger. she found a striking difference in a pair of tiny structures near the bottom of the brain called the amygdalae. they subconsciously recognize danger, and react faster than conscious thought. >> marsh: one of the big things that we know they do is, they're responsible for generating the experience of fear. what's interesting about that is that, not only is the amygdala essential for giving you the experience of fear, it seems to allow you to empathize with other people's fear.
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>> pelley: as her subjects were scanned, marsh showed them emotional faces. >> marsh: and whereas people who are psychopathic show very minimal responses in the amygdala when they see a frightened face, people who have given kidneys to strangers have an exaggerated response in the amygdala, which we think means that they are more sensitive than most people to other's distress, better at interpreting when other people are in distress, more likely to pick up on it. >> pelley: perhaps like the man who saved her on the freeway. no tellng how many psychopaths drove past you that night. ( laughter ) >> marsh: just try to relax and stay as still as possible during the scan. >> pelley: we wondered whether our carnegie heroes were born heroic. was there a difference in their brains? all three volunteered for dr. marsh's scans. >> marsh: to my-- i'm not going to lie, it was-- i was really pleased and gratified by what we found in the heroic rescuers,
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which is that, just like the altruistic kidney donors, their amygdalas were larger than average and significantly more responsive to the sight of somebody else in distress. which makes so much sense. i mean, you know, these are the people who, when they saw somebody terrified because they thought they were about to die, they didn't just sit there. >> pelley: you know, they have all told us that they sprang into action, as you say, without thinking. >> mccartney: you don't think; you just-- you're strictly acting. >> pontzer: i didn't think about it. >> thomas: i didn't even think about it. >> marsh: it really makes sense, when you think about how ancient and deep in our brain structures like the amygdala are. and i wouldn't want to say that the amygdala is where altruism is in the brain. it's one link in a very long chain of events that's happening that takes us from seeing that somebody's in danger to actually acting to help them. but we know that it's definitely an essential link in that chain. whether you are a mouse or a rat or a dog or a human, it's performing the same functions at a really deep, fast,
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subconscious level. >> pelley: if the act of heroism is a sprint, the consequences are a marathon. for david mccartney, it was for the better. he's the first to admit he wasn't a good man. in the past, he'd pleaded guilty to battery. but he promised the woman he pulled from the burning car that he would do good, and, in 2019, he donated a kidney. who did the kidney go to? >> mccartney: i have no clue. >> pelley: on the other hand, for terryann thomas, heroism has been troubling. she wasn't able to go back to work in the police property room. >> thomas: i had a hard time. i still have a hard time. >> pelley: and it's been a hard time for pete pontzer, who was left with regret. that second boy he could not reach was flown to a hospital, but did not survive. >> pontzer: a hero would've gotten the second one, as well. and that's a challenge that i always live with.
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i just couldn't get the second kid. >> pelley: his regret was coupled with curiosity about the boy he saved six years ago, the boy whose name he never knew. the young man that you saved is named sebastian prokop, and we found him. and he had something that he wanted to say to you. so, let me introduce you. >> sebastian prokop: i'm sebastian prokop. i'm 18. i recently graduated from high school, and i'm working toward going to college, getting a car, all that good stuff. thank you to the one who pulled me out and let me be able to achieve all the milestones that i've got and that i plan to get. >> pontzer: thank you, scott.
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>> pelley: what is it like to see him today? >> pontzer: it kind of takes my breath away, scott. it helps to bring some closure, and some help. >> pelley: help for heroes has been the mission of the carnegie fund for 118 years. it has bestowed 10,000 medals, and awarded $40 million. back in 1904, andrew carnegie sensed what science has now confirmed. heroes, he said, cannot be created; they act on an impulse, a mysterious gift to the few. ( ticking ) >> the psychological cost for >> it's okay to say, "look, i really need to talk to someone." >> at sponsored by cologuard. ( ticking )
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>> pelley: i'm scott pelley. we'll be back next week with another edition of "60 minutes."
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(vo) while you may not be a pediatric surgeon volunteering your topiary talents at a children's hospital — your life is just as unique. your raymond james financial advisor gets to know you, your passions, and the way you give back. so you can live your life. that's life well planned.
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( ticking ) captioning funded by cbs and ford. we go further, so you can. captioned by media access group at wgbh
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robyn: i serve as an equalizer. i'm the one you call when you can't call 911. previously on the equalizer... does the name mason quinn mean anything to you? robyn: i was promised that he would spend the rest of his miserable life locked up. who promised you that? robyn: how could you lie to me, when you knew i should have known? well, when it comes to quinn, you're just a little bit obsessed, aren't you? quinn (distorted): good to know you're still in play. i'm gonna get you again. and this time, i'm gonna kill you. everything i could dig up on mason quinn since the cia let him go. uh, word of advice: don't open it. it's not your problem anymore. i'm looking for viola marsette? i have a sketch i want to ask you about. vi: the woman in that portrait, she was more than a friend. it wasn't something that could survive the real world, as the world was then. (gunshot) vanessa: i don't know you, but if marcus trusted you, then i trust you, too.
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please find him.