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Hannity

Transcript: Exclusive! Terri Schiavo's Siblings Speak Out

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," April 7, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

Watch "Hannity & Colmes" weeknights at 9 p.m. ET!

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Terri Schiavo's family lost their long battle to keep Terri alive. But the battle with her husband, Michael Schiavo, is all but over.

Joining us now with an exclusive television interview, their first since Terri's tragic death, is Terri's brother, Bobby Schindler, and her sister, Suzanne Vitadamo.

Guys, once again, I just want to send my condolences to you, guys and your mom and dad. I've gotten to you and your family and I'm very sorry, as you know, that you all went through this.

Let's go back to the day that Terri died. Both of you were with her up until about 10 minutes before she died. I want to first address this idea that she was peaceful, that this was a calm and a gentle death, as Michael's attorney, Mr. Felos, said. Is that the case? Is that true?

BOBBY SCHINDLER, TERRI SCHIAVO'S BROTHER: Absolutely not, Mr. Hannity. You I don't want to get too graphic. But what my sister and I saw was absolutely horrific.

For any family to have to experience what our family experienced the last two weeks, and particularly the last 72 hours was just barbaric. This whole death with dignity is an absolute lie. To see my sister suffering the way she was suffering before she died, is — I'm telling you, it's something I will never forget. And it's an image that will last with me forever.

HANNITY: Susan, I mean, you were with your sister. I mean, he said peaceful, calm, gentle and I've heard from Brother Paul and others that she was literally gasping and struggling and in pain. What did you see?

SUZANNE VITADAMO, TERRI SCHIAVO'S SISTER: That's pretty accurate. I mean, she was gasping. It was awful. She looked absolutely horrific. It was very difficult to be in the room with her. She looked like death. It was just awful.

HANNITY: Let me ask both of you this. Now, this — you guys have not spoken publicly about this. But you wanted to stay in the room with your sister because you knew that the hour of her death was now near, because she had entered this final stage, and it was apparent and obvious to the people working in the hospice. You guys knew that.

In this final 10-minute period, you wanted to be in the room, and Michael would not let you be there. I want to hear from both of you what happened. Suzanne, let me start with you.

VITADAMO: That's right. You know, they ushered us out of her room 10 minutes before she died. And we — in the hallway we got into a discussion with the policemen that took us out of the room. And we asked him to please let us stay in; we knew she was close to death. We didn't mind — we begged him, even if Michael was in the room, please allow us to be with her at her time of death.

And we said it would be peaceful. We don't mind if he is in the room, as well. And they actually — they ushered us off the property. According to Michael Schiavo, we were not allowed in the room with her. It was very, very difficult.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: It's Alan. Thank you both very much for coming back on the show. And to pick up on what we were just talking about, you know what they are saying on the other side is that, you know, in the interest of peace, and to make it as peaceful in that room as possible, that's why it was decided that you were asked to leave at that point.

Is that not an accurate reflection of what happened?

SCHINDLER: I disagree with that. This whole thing was staged. I believe it was two or three days prior to my sister passing away. There was already an obituary that was written. CBS report — "CBS news" reported this. And it came out portraying Michael Schiavo as a loving caring husband, being there at the last moment, cradling his wife.

So the minute they threw us out of the room, we knew it was happening. And that's why we were begging the police officer to please allow us back in the room so we could be with Terri. We didn't care if Michael was there.

And they told us that Michael Schiavo does not want you in the room, any family in the room, and they ushered us out of the building. It was absolutely disgraceful for us not to be allowed in there, and it was all staged so Michael could tell the media that he was there cradling his wife when she expired. And we're just awfully upset about this.

COLMES: So if there's any kind of a struggle between you and anybody else there, that totally made up?

SCHINDLER: There was a discussion. I became very upset with the police officer, because they were telling us that we could not be in the room with Terri when she was close to death.

And I asked the police officer — I told the police officer, "I know what's going on here. They're staging this. And I don't care about all of that. I just want to be in the room with my sister when she passes away."

VITADAMO: Mr. Colmes, I can tell you that Terri would have wanted her family by her side upon her death. I can tell you that.

COLMES: That would have included Michael, too, I guess?

VITADAMO: Maybe it would. But, you know, she definitely would have wanted us there, too.

SCHINDLER: We were...

COLMES: Go ahead.

SCHINDLER: The last hours of Terri's death, we were treated horribly. In fact, once Terri passed away and our family was told that we can go back in the room and be with her, after she had died.

There was three police officers in the room with us, would not leave the room. And we were told that they were ordered to be in the room with us, at which point my father became very upset, asking for five minutes of privacy, and the policemen refused to leave the room. I believe they were scared that we were going to take pictures of Terri after she had died, which again was absolutely disgraceful.

HANNITY: All right. We've got a lot more questions to ask when we get back, and some of the unanswered questions about the case. We'll continue with our interview — exclusive interview with Bobby and Suzanne, coming up right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLMES: All right. Bobby, let me go to you on this. An aid to Senator Mel Martinez from Florida, Brian Darling acknowledged writing a memo saying Terri's case was good for the Republican Party and Tom DeLay said he told the Family Research Council that God brought to us this tragedy.

Does it disturb you at all that a political party would try to take advantage of this or try to gain anything because of what you've gone through?

SCHINDLER: Well, you know, I don't know, Alan. You know, what I saw in Washington when I was there, I saw people working very hard. They seemed very genuine and authentic that they wanted to help my sister.

They were very concerned that Terri was not being afforded the same rights as a common criminal or someone that was on death row. And from the people I worked with — even — I met Mr. Darling, and he was exceptionally genuine, was working very hard, and I was received so well. And I believe it was in their best interests and in their hearts that they wanted to do something to help Terri.

COLMES: Suzanne, let me go to you on this, because it was described as a great political issue in that memo. Do you see it that way? And do you think that a political party — do you see them as trying to get advantage on this politically?

VITADAMO: Of course, I don't. I actually admire them for taking the initiative and stepping in where you have a disabled person whose — you know, these supposed wishes, there's a point of contention there. And, you know, she obviously was — had a court ordered starvation, very inhumane. And I admire them for stepping in and taking action.

COLMES: What do you — Bobby, what do you want to see Congress do now? Do you want to see legislation — do you want to see them now, after all this has happened, do something as a result of what you've gone through? What do you want to see them do?

SCHINDLER: Yes. I mean, this type of thing can never happen again. What our family went through. Terri is a disabled person. Her wishes were hearsay evidence. They killed her on wishes that nobody knew whether they were said or not.

And I think it's important that we do something to prevent something like this from ever happening again. We are starving to death human beings with disabilities, and I think it's absolutely appalling and something has to be done to change the laws to make it as difficult as possible to kill somebody, you know, that's simply disabled.

HANNITY: Suzanne, there were issues remaining. I know the family didn't want cremation of your sister. It happened anyway. Michael went against your wishes. There was talk that he wouldn't tell you where the remains of the ashes were to be put. Is there any — has that issue been resolved?

VITADAMO: No, it hasn't. We have yet to hear anything regarding a memorial that he had planned for Terri that I think we were supposed to be notified about or where her ashes are being laid to rest. So we have not heard from him at all.

HANNITY: Both of you give me some quick answers to some questions, because I never saw a case where there were so many unresolved issues. You still both don't know why she collapsed, correct?

SCHINDLER: That's correct. To this day we still don't know.

HANNITY: You both don't — you both don't know why — whether she was bulimic or not, in spite of all of the press reports, but you say that was not true, correct?

SCHINDLER: There was never any medical evidence at all that supported the fact that Terri was bulimic. It was something that — you know, it's still being reported on today, and it's just simply not true. We still to this day do not know what caused Terri to collapse.

HANNITY: And there were never any cardiac enzymes indicating a heart attack has been reported. Is that correct?

VITADAMO: That's correct. There was never — go ahead. She had no damage around the heart. Her enzymes were not elevated, and in the medical records, it does not say that she had a heart attack.

SCHINDLER: You know, I think...

HANNITY: Bobby, we both know that the issue of these broken bones has never been answered on this bone scan. And the radiologist has said a broken femur, broken back, broken vertebrae, broken knees and broken ankles. And that has never been resolved, correct?

SCHINDLER: Absolutely correct. We still don't know what caused those broken bones. And what's interesting, Mr. Hannity, if you look back on Michael's testimony and some of the interviews that he's done, he has three different versions, maybe more, of what happened the night Terri collapsed which is extremely suspect.

So we just don't know what happened to her the night — you know, the night she collapsed. We still don't know.

HANNITY: Where do we go from here, I guess, is the big question. I mean, your sister now is gone. These questions remain in your mind. It's unresolved. I know you both have spent 15 years trying to save your sister's life. I have to imagine this is hard for you. Are you going to try and pursue answers to the questions that I'm raising here, and what do you plan to do?

VITADAMO: Well, you know, right now, Mr. Hannity, we're really still in a grieving mode. We haven't even thought that far ahead. It's hard to say.

I can tell you, though, that what we have thought about is taking action and doing what we can as a family using the resources and abilities that we have now to stop this from happening to disabled people and to families like what happened with Terri.

COLMES: We thank you — we thank you both very much for being on the show tonight.

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