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08.02.2005

IN HER FIRST NATIONAL INTERVIEW, THE WOMAN WHO AWOKE FROM A 20-YEAR COMA SPEAKS WITH "EARLY SHOW" NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT TRACY SMITH IN A TWO-PART EXCLUSIVE TO BE BROADCAST

August 2, 2005

IN HER FIRST NATIONAL INTERVIEW, THE WOMAN WHO AWOKE FROM A 20-YEAR COMA SPEAKS WITH "EARLY SHOW" NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT TRACY SMITH IN A TWO-PART EXCLUSIVE TO BE BROADCAST THURSDAY, AUG. 4 AND FRIDAY, AUG. 5

For 20 years, Sarah Scantlin was unaware of the world around her after she was hit by a drunk driver that sent her into a comatose state in September 1984. Then, in February 2005, she shocked her parents and doctors when she began to speak. In her first national television interview, after undergoing surgery on her long-unused limbs and speech therapy to unlock her long-dormant tongue, Scantlin speaks with EARLY SHOW National Correspondent Tracy Smith in a two-part interview to be broadcast Thursday, Aug. 4 and Friday, Aug. 5 on CBS News' THE EARLY SHOW (7:00-9:00 AM ET/PT). Smith also speaks with her parents, Jim and Betsy Scantlin, who never imagined they would talk to their daughter again.

The accident occurred when Scantlin was crossing the street in her hometown of Hutchinson, Kan. She suffered a massive brain injury and could not breathe on her own. Smith speaks with New York neurologist Randolph Marshall, who says that people like Scantlin seldom wake up. "You only hear about these cases very rarely and they're always a surprise when they actually come to light," he says.

While her recovery is being called a miracle, today Scantlin's speech is still limited. However, it is now clear that during at least part of her 20-year coma, Scantlin could see, hear and understand what was going on around her. Shortly after she awoke, her father asked what she knew about something that occurred years earlier: Sept. 11. "Sarah, what's 9-11?" She responds, "Bad...fire...airplanes...building...hurt people." Smith says there are other things deep in Scantlin's brain that survived the accident because, during the interview, she reminisced about her favorite 1980s musical groups and even sang "Summer Lovin'," the theme song from the film "Grease."

In a February interview on THE EARLY SHOW, Sarah's father recounted the phone call he and his wife got, informing them of the unimaginable. "It was amazing. I'm in the living room. Betsy was in the computer area, and the phone rings...and suddenly, I'm aware that there's a profound, distinct difference. Rather than speaking about Sarah, it became very clear she [Sara's nurse] was speaking to Sarah. It was the most amazing feeling in the world," he said.

Michael Bass is the senior executive producer of THE EARLY SHOW.

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Press Contact: Leigh Farris 212/975-2856 farrisl@cbsnews.com