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tv   Caught on Camera  MSNBC  October 16, 2011 6:00pm-7:00pm PDT

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paralyzed with fear in the raging waters. >> i wanted to scream, i wanted to be off my car, but i couldn't move. stranded on a frozen ocean in a sinking ship. >> i knew this was the end. i knew i was going to die. trapped in a burning car with young children inside. >> there's a baby in there. >> i was terrified, and i couldn't get her seat belt undone. falling to earth in a deadly spiral. a bad dream with no end in sight. >> oh, my gosh, i'm is ascared. >> complete, absolute, utter terror. >> then, out of nowhere, a chance. >> and we all just erupt. >> stories from those who made
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it out. >> you can always replace stuff, but you can't replace yourself. >> we were all crying and just glad to be alive. hello, i'm contessa brewer, welcome to "caught on camera." it's the stuff of nightmares. you're on a plane, in a car or on a boat when suddenly you find yourself in a terrifying life or death situation. in this hour, you'll meet people who face their biggest fears and lived to tell the tale. their stories are real, and they're all caught on camera. just minutes after takeoff from burbank, california, the crew of jet blue flight 292 discovers a problem and prepares for an emergency landing.
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>> brace, brace, brace. >> a terrified passenger films the entire ordeal, and records what could be his final good-byes. >> just thought i'd leave a message just in case, that i love you. >> normally dave is a light-hearted guy, a comedian from southern california. >> you were filling the gas tank you would never leave. >> but on september 21st, 2005, he's in no mood for a long cross-country flight to new york. >> i woke up early and i woke up tired, because my girlfriend and i had been in a big argument the night before. >> i dropped him off at the airport about 2:30, and i was very angry, and i said, "see ya." >> dave tries to sleep as the plane lifts off, but his nap is interrupted by commotion in the cabin. >> people were agitated and the
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fellow came on and said, "we believe that we have a malfunction with our landing gear." >> malfunction, not the kind of word a passenger likes to hear. dave snaps to attention and turns on the tv in the seat back in front of him. >> the jetblue airliner the one you're looking at on your screen apparently sent out a distress call. >> so all of a sudden, there is some coverage of a plane in trouble, and i'm thinking wow, the poor folks on that plane. >> this plane took off from burbank airport, shortly after 3:00 p.m. it was headed for john f. kennedy international airport. >> and then, of course, i realize, that's the plane that i'm on. it's absolutely surreal to be watching this story of the plane that you're in. >> dave decides to film the scene with a small video camera from his carry-on luggage. >> we've run all of our relevant checklists and are confident we know exactly what the issues are.
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>> my understanding of what happened the landing gear had a problem when it was retracted so it got twisted to completely exactly the wrong way. >> the pilot announces they'll fly around to burn off fuel before landing at lax. >> because we were flying around for two hours, we had a lot of time to think about the situation, and i ping-ponged from intellectual reason that this will be okay to emotional panic, that the landing gear is twisted and the plane is going to crash and this is it. this is it. there's a decent chance i'm going to die. >> dave begins to think about his girl friend, barbara, and the unpleasant way they parted. >> i thought how awful it would be for her if i died in a plane crash. >> he decides to use his camera to record what could be a farewell message. >> barb, it's me, i'm watching the plane on the tv. we're having landing gear problems.
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we're going to emergency land, crash land is a bad word, at lax. but thought i'd leave you a message just in case. which is i love you and everything is going to be groovy. love to my mom and family, let them know that i love them. that's it. >> meanwhile, the flight attendants are busy preparing the passengers. >> at this time, remove all high heel shoes and sharp objects. >> i think the scariest moments for me, it was when they're explaining to us, you need to decide how you want to brace yourself for this emergency landing. >> if you want to assume the alternate brace position -- >> you have a choice. you can either go, put your arms up there and lean against the thing, or you can put, lean down and put your head between your knees. but just the fact that i'm considering what position do i want to crash in, was very scary for me. >> luckily, barbara is spared the horror of watching the ordeal on live television, but the news manages to reach her. >> i made a phone call to a
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friend of mine, and he abruptly tells me he doesn't have time to talk to me because he's busy watching this plane story on the television and then i realize that that was the plane that dave was on. >> jetblue flight 292 is getting ready to land. >> flight 292 on its final approach for an emergency landing. >> the moment is horrifying for those watching live. but nothing compares to the terror on board. >> brace, brace, brace! >> as we're coming in and they're yelling "brace, brace, brace!" >> brace, brace, brace! >> it seemed like it went on forever, like when are we going to touch down? [ baby crying ] there was a big jolt, and then there was rocking and then there was this intense putrid smell of burning rubber. i know now that was the front landing gear just being ripped up by the runway. >> passengers can no longer see what the television shows.
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sparks and flames erupting from beneath the plane. >> as we came in and the plane finally stopped, there was this moment of almost silence, and then all of the sudden somebody yelled out -- >> right on! >> woo! >> and then we all just erupted. >> flight 292 jetblue has landed at lax safely. >> meanwhile, barbara is a wreck. >> i wasn't able to get to a television, so the first thing i did was dial dave's phone number. i dialed it a few times. that was the worst ten minutes of my life. because i had no idea what was going on. >> at last, barbara's call goes through, just as the plane grinds to a stop. >> he picks up the phone and i hear in the background, "yay!" and i just thought, are you on that plane? and he says "yes i'm on the plane. i'll tell all about it, can't talk now." >> the nightmare flight is over. >> yeah, good job! good job! thank you!
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as i was exiting the plane i actually got a wonderful shot of the landing gear completely shaved in half. >> when barbara arrives home that evening, dave shows her the message he taped. >> i love you, and everything is going to be groovy. >> i felt really special, and i understood that he loved me, so i was very thankful to have him sitting there next to me on the couch. whoa! >> two years later in august, 2007, the landing of a china airlines flight in okinawa, japan, makes dave's experience seem tame by comparison. 157 passengers run for their lives, as their plane goes up in flames on the tarmac. and then explodes.
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the carusos, jim, pam, erica and amanda, are a military family stationed in okinawa. after a relaxing summer vacation in australia, their scheduled landing seems routine. >> we landed normally, i stood up, we were starting to collect the girls' things and i looked out and i saw smoke. two seconds later the entire right wing is a ball of fire. >> a loose bolt has punctured a small hole in the fuel line causing one of the engines to catch fire. very quickly, the flames engulf the plane's wings, and those wings are filled with fuel. >> when i looked at the windows, they were completely covered in smoke. >> i was really scared. >> you're in a metal can, that's on fire. >> the family seats are in the worst possible location. >> we were in the middle of the plane, and normally it's not a bad thing to be close to the
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over wing exits, but when the wings are what's on fire, then that's really not a place you want to be. >> to make matters worse, the aisle in back of them is blocked. >> the woman right behind us, she was just indicating to my husband the overhead above his head, he reaches up there and pulls out a pair of crutches. her husband had a broken leg. so he pulled it down, we just thought oh, no. i turned back, and already the entire plane was almost empty in the front. >> finally, they managed to reach the emergency slides at the front of the cabin. >> the slide, it's sort of slippery so you go down really fast. if the plane wasn't on fire, that would have been really, really fun. >> the carusos are some of the last passengers to get out. seconds later, the plane explodes. >> whoa! >> it was loud. it was big. >> the entire center part of the plane where the caruso family had been only seconds earlier is destroyed. >> after the first explosion,
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anybody in the middle of that plane would have perished. >> incredibly, it takes just three and a half minutes for all the passengers and crew to escape. there are no injuries. >> it's a testament to the crew that 165 people got off a burning aircraft without a single scratch. >> the caruso family lost a lot of personal belongings, but even the youngest among them knows they escaped with what's most valuable. >> we lost a bunch of stuff. well, you thought about it and you're like, you can always replace that stuff but you can't replace yourself. coming up, a skydiving student loses control. >> shayna! just the worst thing i'd ever experienced in my life. i couldn't hardly breathe. and a woman on a sinking ship in one of the most desolate places on earth. >> oh, my gosh, i'm so scared. i'm so scared. >> when "caught on camera: i'm alive!" continues. i habe a cohd.
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a skydiving student spirals out of control while her boyfriend watches helplessly from above. >> shayna! shayna! >> it's october 9th, 2005 in fayetteville, arkansas. shayna richardson and her skydiving instructor, rick west, are not only jumping out of planes, but also falling in love. >> hi, what's your name? >> you know my name. you yell it every night. >> she's just bubbly and happy, just undescribable. that's how i describe her. >> rick met shayna in the spring of 2005 and has been teaching her how to skydive for the past six months. that october, he wants to document an exciting milestone for her. >> all right, shayna, what are you getting ready to do? >> my first aff. >> aff stands for accelerated freefall, and it's shayna's first time doing it on her own.
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in the plane, rick asks her if she's ready. >> ready to skydive? >> i'm ready. >> door! >> as seen from rick's helmet camera the freefall is picture perfect. >> the dive went very well that day. we exit the plane, we were stable, we had a very good dive. >> shayna deploys her chute first and rick is excited, everything looks great. >> woo, good job, shayna! yeah, that's my girl. >> but soon, rick loses sight of her, and when he does find her in the air there's trouble. >> when i saw her, she was under a solid white parachute which i know is a reserve, they're solid in color. >> rick knows something is wrong. shayna has made the decision to cut away her main parachute. that can't be good. >> after four or five times spinning one way, i'm realizing, man, she's flying a bad parachute. >> shayna's chute has what's
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known as a hung slider, the nylon webbing that slides down the lines during deployment is stuck. as a result, her reserve parachute only partially opens and she's spinning out of control at a tremendous speed. >> shayna! pump the brakes! pump the brakes! pump the brakes! i started screaming "pump the brakes! that's what you hear in the videos i'm screaming, you know, "pump the brakes! pump the brakes!" we're getting closer and closer and closer to the ground and it wasn't happening. >> within seconds, she crashes into a parking lot. rick lands in a nearby field about 300 yards away and rushes toward her. >> i reached up, shut the video off, and ran up to her. as i took off running, it was like slow motion, it was just the weirdest thing i had ever experienced in my life. >> when rick reaches shayna,
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she's barely conscious, and while her injuries are horrifying, miraculously, she's alive.e ft de, the whole mid section of my face, eggshelled, shattered broke everything, broke the front top five teeth out of my i broke my pelvis in three places and i broke my right leg below the knee, but the majority of the damage was done to my face. >> during the drop, shayna goes into panic mode when she thinks her main chute has malfunctioned. she quickly deploys her backup chute, only to find that isn't working either. >> pump the brakes! >> i was pumping the brakes, i was pumping the risers, i was pulling, i was doing everything i could physically imagine doing. it just wasn't going to fix, and then it was just horrifying to realize that i had no other backup. there was no other options. >> shayna remembers the last moments before she hit the ground. >> the last thing i remember in
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the air, we were just letting go of the toggles and just giving up. it was more or less me just accepting the reality of what was coming so i let go of the toggles, knowing that i was going to die. >> in the emergency room, shayna is hardly a model patient, kicking and screaming in anger and frustration. that is, until she gets news she never saw coming. >> a doctor comes in and says, you really need to calm down. i need to talk to you. he goes, "we just found a positive pregnancy test, you're two weeks pregnant." >> when rick hears shayna is pregnant, he's filled with mixed emotions. >> i was so happy but i was so sad that the doctor just told me outside she may not make it through the surgeries. she was so anxious, you know, to want to have a baby, she was in such bad shape. >> when i was told that i was pregnant, that definitely changed my entire outlook. i was alive, and i had a reason to stay alive.
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that baby was all the motivation i needed. >> in the coming months, shayna makes a remarkable recovery. she and her unborn baby undergo half a dozen surgeries. in april 2006, she and rick get married and a few months later, their son tanner is born, a 7 pound 13 ounce healthy baby boy. >> tanner is more than a miracle. he really is my physical angel. >> at 3 years old, tanner is still too young to know about the fall he survived inside his mother's womb, but one day, if he sees the video, he'll come to know how lucky he is. >> i remember how important his little tiny heartbeat was to me, hearing that heartbeat gave me a reason to want to get better. it gave me a reason to want to heal and go on and see what else life had to offer. coming up, a young child trapped in a burning car.
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>> there's a baby in there! >> he was screaming like i've never heard a person scream or child scream ever. and a panic-stricken woman is swept away by dangerous floodwaters. >> it was a pretty fast realization that this could be it. >> when "caught on camera: i'm alive!" continues. an airline has planes and people. and the planes can seem the same. so, it comes down to the people. because: bad weather, the price of oil those are every airline's reality. and solutions will not come from 500 tons of metal and a paintjob. they'll come from people. delta people. who made us the biggest airline in the world. and then decided that wasn't enough. whose non-stop day starts with back pain... and a choice. take advil now and maybe up to four in a day. or choose aleve and two pills for a day free of pain.
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a mother and her two young children are trapped inside a burning suv. >> come back, there's a baby in there! >> strangers run toward the flames, risking their own lives to try and save the family. >> get me a knife! >> get a knife! >> milwaukee, wisconsin, angela baldessari and her two children, 4-year-old d.j. and 2-year-old beverly, are visiting the city from tennessee while her husband works at a carnival. on the afternoon of july 19th, 2009, angela is driving her kids
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to a nearby park. >> i didn't realize i was as tired as i was, and i ended up falling asleep, and when i opened my eyes, all i remember is seeing the tree and then the vehicle flipping over. >> a local resident with a video camera runs toward the scene of the accident. >> my first thought was my children, i have to get my children out of the vehicle. >> still trapped in the car, angela manages to free her daughter first. >> i was able to unbuckle her car seat real easy. i lifted her up through the window, and somebody took her from me. >> there you go. >> a few blocks away, brothers john and joe recklets are at a family barbecue. they're both off-duty firefighters. >> i received a phone call from my wife, joy. it was a car on fire, people trapped, 22nd and leyton, hurry. >> local residents begin smashing the windshield with pipes. inside the car, angela struggles frantically to free her son d.j. from his car seat.
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the seat belt is pinched on the side of the crumpled vehicle. >> i figured it would be easy but it wasn't. i was terrified actually when i couldn't get his seat belt undone. i was scared for my son's life. >> angela doesn't want to leave her trapped child but bystanders pull her through the broken windshield. >> get away. >> i just remember being outside of the vehicle and screaming that my child was still in there the vehicle, and that someone needed to get him out. >> look out, look out, look out! >> when they arrive at the scene, joel in the tan shorts, plunges head first into the burning car, while his brother, john, in the yellow shirt, peels back the windshield with his bare hands. >> our -- any instincts as firefighters truly kicked in, doing the best we can with the limited tools that we had, and at that time, we really had no tools.
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>> the brothers are unable to free d.j. from his car seat and the boy's painful cries are heartbreaking. >> he was screaming like i've never heard a person scream or child scream ever. he was grabbing for us. he was asking us to pull him out. you could see he was trying to brush the fire off of him. he was a scared little boy. >> the situation seems hopeless, but the brothers won't give up. desperate for a way to free the boy, john calls out for a knife. >> give me a knife! >> get a knife! >> i'm screaming for a knife, a bystander said "here, take mine" and as soon as i had it, i was able to cut the shoulder portion of the seat belt, i grabbed d.j. and basically started pulling him forward, and he was starting to come out. >> finally, d.j. is out of the car.
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>> spray the kid! >> joel uses a neighbor's garden hose to cool d.j.'s body. >> whoa! >> i would say five to ten seconds after d.j. was removed from the vehicle, the fire completely consumed the car. >> whoa! >> angela is overwhelmed with emotion. >> i was relieved to a point. i think i just remember hoping that they could get him out without extensive injuries, but they did end up getting him out, but there was extensive injuries. >> d.j.'s in bad shape. his head and shoulders are covered with second and third-degree burns. joel and john also suffer severe burns and cuts, but their focus is on d.j.
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>> everything around him, his ears, his hair, shoulders were burned, but because he didn't sustain any burns to his nose and mouth, he didn't suffer any respiratory injuries. >> d.j. will lose both his ears. at children's hospital of wisconsin, angela and her husband, chris, learn just how difficult the road to recovery will be. >> they were thinking that it was going to be six to eight months before he even got released from the hospital. >> while d.j. spends months in the hospital, the recklets brothers and their families continue to help in a big way, this time raising money for the boy's medical bills. at the local restaurant where john's daughters work, there's a fund-raiser and once again, the city of milwaukee rallies, donating money, toys, and clothes. d.j.'s family is humbled. >> you know, let america know that there are still people out there that care, that will do anything and will risk their lives. >> after enduring four major
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grafting operations, d.j. makes remarkable progress. for his fifth birthday, he asks for two prosthetic ears, which doctors now hope to arrange for him. >> he's up walking. he's chattering like a normal 5-year-old, playing like a normal 5-year-old. you know, we still have to do dressing changes every day, but other than that, you know, he's just really being a normal 5-year-old right now. >> on september 15th, less than two months after the accident, and months earlier than expected, d.j. is released from the hospital. the recklets brothers, who d.j. has come to know as uncle john and uncle joel, are there to wish him well. >> d.j. is a wonderful little boy. when he was released, i had the great opportunity to take him out fishing on my boat. he's doing great. oh, keep reeling in. i think he jumped off. >> almost got it. >> there's a blessed day, it really is, to have him out of the hospital, and to have him actually on the boat fishing.
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>> angela and her husband have decided to relocate to wisconsin permanently, hoping one day to give back something to the community that has given them so much. >> my thoughts of all the people that were there to help, to help my family, it was just overwhelming, but you know, i want to say thank you to every one of them, because if they weren't there that day, i wouldn't have my little boy to hold and love on today. coming up, a ship sinking in the frozen sea. >> the captain has called an emergency. third floor is leaking. a balloon strikes a radio tower. >> he hit the tower. he's on the tower. >> and how its young passengers get out is nothing short of a miracle. >> these kids were inspiration. they did fine. >> when "caught on camera: i'm alive!" continues. it seems like for every anti-aging problem, there's a different cream.
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i'm lori wilson. here's what's happening. indycar driver dan wheldon is dead after a fiery 15-car wreck. his car got caught up in a pileup and went airborne into a fence. and in an interview to air on monday mother of lisa irwin said she was drunk the night her daughter went missing. but she denies having anything to do with the baby's disappearance. now back to "caught on camera." welcome back to "caught on camera." i'm contessa brewer. so far we've seen ordinary people who survived some pretty extraordinary circumstances but what happens when things go wrong in one of the most remote and hostile places on earth? in our next story we'll see one woman's frightening ordeal on a ship sinking in the middle of the antarctic.
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she wants to document for her family what could be her last moments. a cruise ship strikes an iceberg and is sinking in the frozen, desolate antarctic ocean. >> complete, absolute, utter terror. >> on deck, passengers scramble to survive. one of them is american lisa pysola. >> oh, my gosh, i'm so scared. i'm so scared. i knew this was it. i knew this was the end. i knew i was going to die. >> lisa is a passionate world traveler who's journeyed to all but one of the seven continents, but her vast experience in some of the most rugged places on earth was nothing compared to this trip, a 19-day expedition to antarctica, the last continent on her list. >> this ship was called "the explorer" and it was actually built for antarctica. it had an ice strengthened hull so that it could withstand the ice. >> for the first 12 days of her trip, lisa saw some of the most
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spectacular scenery she had ever seen. >> we saw amazing wildlife, we saw whales, we saw penguins. i saw things i never thought i'd see in my entire life. but on the 12th day, video camera rolling, lisa would capture something else she never thought she'd see. >> i was videotaping the ice because the ice was different. it was deeper, seemed to be pretty much everywhere. >> the mood is serious, as the captain tries to maneuver the ship through the ice field, then a few minutes before midnight, lisa hears alarm bells. the ship has sprung a leak. >> a fist-sized hole was punctured into the third floor of the ship, and the captain came on and he said, "this is the captain and this is not a drill." i knew at this very moment in the depths of my soul how much trouble we were in. >> lisa rushes back to her cabin
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to grab her warmest clothing. >> hey, the captain called an emergency. third floor is leaking. i'm going to get my coat. oh my gosh. oh, [ muted ] oh, my gosh, i'm so scared. i'm so scared. >> the passengers gather in the ship's lecture hall and a roll call is taken. >> the mood was very intense. people knew that we were in trouble. the expedition staff tried to keep it light. >> which one of you left the toilet flushing, i think this is the problem. anyway you all look good in orange. >> just reminded me of the "titanic" and the orchestra playing as the ship went down. >> the outlook turns deadly serious, however, when the ship loses power and begins listing heavily to the side. the captain can no longer control the ship.
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>> we're floating toward that iceberg. and we actually hit into another iceberg. the iceberg just hit the boat. oh my gosh. >> at that point the captain issues the order everyone fears. >> so the captain came on to the loudspeaker and said, "this is an emergency and i am ordering all to abandon ship." complete terror. >> lifeboat number? >> lifeboat number? >> what's our lifeboat number, kaye? we don't know. to think that we were going to be unprotected, that we were going to be in the winds and the rain and the storm and the sea. this is the roughest, coldest, windiest place on the planet. >> lisa and the other passengers pile onto the lifeboats, and the terrifying wait begins. >> the last we'd heard is there were ships ten hours away, and the ice cold, frigid waters,
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time just stood still. you could not think about how cold you were, or the reality of where we were or the fact that we hadn't seen another human being for 12 days to this point, that was not on our ship. if anything happened to that liferaft, we would have completely been thrown into the ice cold waters. you can stay less than a minute before you would die. >> finally, a faint speck of hope. >> we were in those boats about six hours. in the horizon, as far as you could see, there was a little pin dot, and it came a little closer and a little closer, until you could finally make it out, that it was a boat. >> that was a large norwegian cruise ship. after braving the elements for hours, all 96 passengers and 54 crew members are rescued. everyone survives. >> i could not believe that i was still alive. they put a warm blanket around me and they put me in the arms of one of my fellow passengers, and i just completely broke down. coming up, a woman frozen in
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fear on the roof of her car. >> i wanted to scream. i wanted to be off my car, but i just couldn't move. and disaster in a hot air balloon. >> he hit the tower. he's on the tower. >> when "caught on camera: i'm [ male announcer ] humana and walmart have teamed up to bring you a low-ed medicare prescription drug plan. ♪ with the lowest national plan premium... ♪ ...and copays as low as one dollar... ♪ ...saving on medicare prescriptions is easy. ♪ so you're free to focus on the things that really matter. call humana at 1-800-808-4003. or go to walmart.com for details. helps defends against occasional constipation, diarrhea, gas and bloating. with three strains of good bacteria to help balance your colon. you had me at "probiotic." [ female announcer ] phillips' colon health.
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august 20th, 2003, a young mother is trapped on her car, paralyzed with fear, in one of the worst flash floods in las vegas history. >> at this point there was no way anybody could get to me. there was nothing but water everywhere i looked. >> 25-year-old angela stitcher is on her way to pick up her two kids at day care, with no knowledge of the severe weather ahead. >> the weather was pretty much like this, very overcast. it was like a light sprinkle and that very soon turned to a full
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downpour. >> that downpour would devastate a large part of the city. some areas of las vegas get close to a year's worth of precipitation in less than an hour. for angela, a freeway underpass near her home suddenly becomes a death trap. >> it kind of broke like a wave, like a tidal wave, and it just kind of came down the side of the freeway. where my car was sitting when it came flowing down the side, i was just right in the current. >> as the water rushes toward her, angela is gripped by a debilitating panic attack. the water washes over her windshield, but as she sits inside the car, she's too stricken to act. >> there was no noise. i didn't hear sirens, i didn't hear people. i didn't even hear the rushing water. i heard absolutely nothing. everything seemed to kind of like be in slow motion, because i was just so lethargic. >> a man on a u-haul truck also stranded in the flood climbs
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onto the roof of his vehicle and yells at angela to get out. finally, she begins to react. >> i was being told to get out and it was almost like a little lost puppy, you know, just going, blindly, just doing exactly what i was told. >> because she's hyperventilating, angela's blood is not circulating properly and she has almost completely lost the use of her hands. >> when i was climbing out of my car, i just kept like moving my wrist because it felt like it was the only part of my hands that i could really move. i kind of like stuck my leg inside my window and wrapped my leg around my seat belt, because i just knew that if i had to hold on, it wouldn't be with my hands. >> just as she makes it on to the roof of her car, her vehicle begins to drift beneath the underpass. >> as my car was drifting, it was kind of when i started to do, okay, so this could be it. it was a pretty fast realization that this could be it. >> the water is rising quickly now, washing over the roof of
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her car and tugging angela into the torrent. >> i just kind of laid my head to the side and as i did that, i saw a man that was standing by a fence and he was waving his arms at me, trying to get my attention. and as i looked over at him, i don't even think i got a sense of relief. the only thing i really got from seeing him was that i wasn't going to die alone. >> officer clint mahlberg is a veteran member of the metropolitan police department's search and rescue squad. >> my sergeant called me, they were expecting heavy flooding from a storm cell that was coming into the valley and asked if i could come in for a couple of hours and fly around in a helicopter, in case there was any rescues needed to be done. >> the rescue team gets word from local news crews that several motorists are stranded near the underpass. when they reach the scene, it's clear that angela is in immediate danger. >> the only thought i had when i accepted that this was it, this
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was my time, the only thought i had was that my kids weren't going to have a mother. >> at the worst moment of despair, her rescuer arrives. >> i didn't want to see anything else. i didn't want to hear anything else, and i closed my eyes and i just completely shut down again. but as i was laying there, my head was to the side and i opened my eyes and there's a man in the water. >> well, the plan was that i'd be lowered down onto the roof of the car, but because of the rain and the car being slick from all the water on it, they pulled me back up, and put me upstream of the car a little bit. >> i remember there was a guy sitting above me all of the sudden, and he's saying something to me, but there is no words, and he's shaking me. i wanted to say something. i wanted to scream. i wanted to be off my car, but i just couldn't move. i was just, i was done. >> it was obvious she was in shock. she wasn't listening to anything
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i said. she wasn't helping in any way. she was just lying there. >> officer mahlberg manages to secure the harness and they both lift off into the sky. after more than 30 minutes of complete terror, angela's body gives out. >> and as he started to lift me off my car, just the relief, everything just was so much, i passed out. i was out cold. i even saw the aerial footage of me when i got home that night, i'm like oh, that's a lovely picture. i remember thinking, that's how everybody's going to see me? like that? >> the rescue crew struggles to get angela into the chopper. finally, she's safe. >> i mean, there's no doubt she would have died, two minutes later, her car was gone. >> angela knows how close she came to dying, and she'll never forget the search and rescue team that gave her a second chance at life. >> it was one of those things that had to be done.
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they did their job, and thank god for that. coming up, a veteran balloonist and his two young passengers crash into a 700-foot tower. >> it was like hearing an amplified scream of a mad woman and a mountain lion and everything you've ever heard scream all at once. >> when "caught on camera: i'm alive!" continues. can i help you? yeah, can i get a full-sized car? for full-sized cars, please listen to the following menu. for convertibles, press star one. i didn't catch that. to speak to a representative, please say representative now. representative. goodbye! you don't like automated customer service, and neither do we. that's why, unlike other cards, no matter when you call chase sapphire preferred, you immediately get a person not a prompt. chase sapphire preferred. a card of a different color. (phone ringing) chase sapphire preferred, this is julie in springfield.
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a hot air balloon crashes into a 700-foot radio tower, leaving the pilot and his two young passengers dangling from above with little hope for survival. bill chappell is a retired forester with the u.s. forest service. for the past 15 years, he's piloted a hot air balloon modeled after smokey bear, the consummate symbol of fire prevention.
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>> it's a lot of fun. we all have a grand time doing it. it's a good excuse to be a kid again. and at the same time, preventing fires. >> but during a 2004 flight at the albuquerque international balloon fiesta, ironically it's the friendly face of smokey bear at the center of a catastrophe. >> well, it was the last day of the fiesta here. the weather was as predictable as it could be. they had predicted calm breezes and that's the way it started. >> bill has two young passengers in his balloon, 14-year-old troy wells and 10-year-old aaron whitaker. >> on that particular morning, we had what you call microbursts or wind shears that just come out of nowhere. a sudden wind that just fouled everything up that morning. >> a spectator on the ground captures the moment when the smokey balloon is driven off
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course by a 60-mile-an-hour blast of wind. >> there's smokey up there. >> despite bill's desperate efforts, there's no way to avoid a 700-foot radio transmission tower. >> my first thought was to get over it. i had no option except to go up. can't steer a balloon. >> bill fires his burners past their safety limit, trying in vain to fight the wind, but he can't rise fast enough to clear the tower. >> oh, he hit the tower. he's on the tower. >> when we hit the tower, the balloon exploded. virtually. and it was like hearing an amplified scream of a mad woman and a mountain lion and everything you've ever heard scream all at once. >> he tore a hole in him. >> the fierce winds quickly ripped the balloon to shreds. >> it's tearing. >> when it happened, of course,
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our first thought was, will the balloon fall from the tower? will the basket fall from the tower? will it stay intact? >> i hope that thing don't rip and let the basket fall. >> bill and his young passengers have only seconds to act. >> we could see that the tower had a ladder inside it and there was room for us to climb out of the basket into the tower. the two boys, well, they both were very brave. >> from the spectator's camera, we see the distant shape of 14-year-old troy wells climbing onto the tower and then helping the younger aaron whitaker. >> one of the thoughts i had was i hope the tower stays together. >> the huge balloon becomes a sail as it tears open creating tremendous pressure, actually flexing the tower itself. but bill and the boys keep going despite the danger. >> we just got out and began our
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long, long climb down. we'd stop and talk to each other, ask how each other were doing and just yell up above us. >> aside from the fierce winds and the stability of the tower, the group has something even more dangerous to worry about. >> one of the things we didn't know was how charged that tower still was. it's got 50,000 watts or so that are in that tower. >> luckily, the managers of the radio station act quickly, shutting off all transmissions to the tower immediately after the accident. >> we just climbed down step after step. the ladder is not made for convenience of short-legged fellows like me. i remember looking out and thinking, my god, i'm not getting any lower. it seemed like i was at the same level. >> for more than two hours, with news helicopters circling, bill chappel and his young companions carefully descend the 700-foot tower. finally, near the bottom, they reach a point where rescuers can reach them from the ground.
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>> how do you climb down such a long ladder? >> it was a long haul. i'm getting a little weak in the knees, but we did it, and these kids were an inspiration. they did fine. nothing like terra firma, i tell you, the safety of the crew, the safety of the arms. we were all crying and just glad to be alive. >> bill presents both boys with a smokey bear pin as a tribute to their courage. meanwhile, 10-year-old aaron whitaker is shaken but in good spirits. >> will you ever fly again? >> probably when i'm older. a couple years away, yeah, probably. but this year, no. >> sir, what about you? >> you betcha. you bet, yep. i can't wait two years. i'm getting too old to wait. >> thanks to a nationwide fund-raising effort, bill launches a brand new smokey balloon in 2005, less than a year after the accident.
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and in 2009, bill is back in albuquerque to help celebrate smokey bear's 65th anniversary. but no one involved will forget that fateful day in october when a pilot and his passengers were lucky to escape with their lives. >> you know, with ballooning, the takeoff is optional. landing is a must. and so we just had a landing we didn't expect. all of the people we've met in this hour have been changed by their experiences in ways, large and small, and whether they were saved by others or they found a way to save themselves, they feel lucky to be alive. if you have a video you'd like to send to us, logon to our website, caughtoncamera.msnbc.com. i'm contessa brewer. that's all for this edition of "caught on camera."

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