tv NBC Nightly News NBC February 4, 2015 7:00pm-7:31pm EST
tragedy on the tracks. a packed commuter train slams into an suv stuck in its path. the driver was a mother of three, an awful scene. multiple fatalities amid the rush to escape. and tonight the investigation into what happened. also the air disaster caught on camera. a commercial airliner falls out of the sky clipping a highway overpass before plunging into a river. miraculously there are survivors. a new warning from the head of cdc about the measles outbreak and what leaders in the autism community are telling us about getting vaccines. and held for ransom, a million people have now fallen victim to this. hackers get into your computer then hold your private files hostage then comes the threat to pay up or else. "nightly news" begins now.
from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news" with brian williams. good evening. what happened in a residential area north of new york city last night turned into a mass casualty event. and it's a huge warning about what can happen anywhere vehicles encounter railroad crossings in this country. this was a commuter train on the metro-north line out of new york. it hit an suv on the tracks in valhalla, new york. the resulting flash fire consumed much of the first car and seemed to fuse the suv to the front of the train. the death toll stands at six including the driver now confirmed to be a mother of three. it's the third busiest rail line in the nation. the ntsb is there on the scene as is our own tom costello tonight. tom, good evening. >> reporter: hi, brian. good evening. just moments ago they moved the burned out carcass of that train just further down the train tracks just a little bit out of view. meanwhile, the medical
examiner's now going through family dental records to try to identify those victims who didn't make it out of the train alive. the first arriving fire and ems units found a scene of carnage, twisted wreckage, fire and smoke. and passengers climbing through windows desperate to escape a burning train. >> all units, more ambulances are required for a car versus train motor vehicle accident. >> reporter: it happened at 6:30 p.m. rush hour on the packed metro-north rail line that serves new york city's commuter towns. >> two cars went billowing out from everywhere. >> reporter: witnesses say an suv was sitting very near the track when the train crossing arm came down on the car. the driver, a mother of three, got out to check for damage then inched forward right into the path of an oncoming train, exploding on impact. as the train carried the suv 1,000 feet down the tracks, the electrified third rail was
ripped free tearing into the first train car. passenger chris gross was inside. >> flames came up about a foot away from my face. after that happened people are screaming, crying. >> we've got one possibly trapped in the train, possibly alive. i've got doa in the train as well. multiple injuries. >> reporter: in all six people were killed including the driver of the suv. 15 people injured, some seriously. >> lacerations, contusions, crush injuries, open fractures, dislocations, smoke inhalation and flame burn injuries. >> reporter: through the day the suv remained embedded in the front of the train as ntsb investigators arrived on the scene. witnesses told police the driver may have been stuck in traffic trapped on the track when the train approached. >> she turns, walks, gets back in the car, light hesitation and then moves forward and at that instant the train hit. >> reporter: piecing together how the accident happened will be part of the ntsb investigation. >> was there any indication that the crossing arms were not working properly? >> at this point we have no
indication to believe that they were doing anything other than operating properly. >> reporter: tonight, the dead include the suv driver, 49-year-old ellen brody, 53-year-old eric vandercar, a father of two, and 69 walter lipke, a curator at the metropolitan museum of art. one accident killed four people just over a year ago. tonight, ntsb investigators are anxious to talk to the conductor and engineer. brian. >> tom costello at the scene of that crash for us tonight. tom, thanks. now to the other major disaster we're covering. a commercial airliner crash in taiwan that was incredibly caught on dash cam video the whole way down. at least 31 people were killed when the transasia airways turbo twin engine prop went down. a dozen missing and feared dead. rescuers were able to save 15 people from the wreckage. we get the latest tonight from nbc's ian williams.
>> reporter: the dramatic final moments captured by the dash cams of passing cars. the transasia twin prop plane clipping an elevated roadway before slamming into the river below. 58 passengers and crew trapped in the fuselage, upsidedown and half under water. rescuers rush to the scene. a young child among the first of more than a dozen pulled to safety. a massive operation painstakingly extracting survivors as an anxious crowd gathered on the river bank. survivors were rushed to local hospitals. on the elevated roadway, debris where the plane hit. and a battered taxi, the same one that can be seen just ahead in this dash cam video. the driver and passenger stunned but alive. the video shows the plane narrowly missing nearby apartment buildings. fueling speculation that the pilot deliberately swerved to avoid them. the plane went down just two minutes after taking off from
taipei's songsha airport. posted online the pilot's recorded distress call. engine flame out he said, suggesting possible engine trouble. >> the propellers you can see this one is spinning at a faster speed than this one. blades here. and they're almost stopped or much slower than this one. this indicates that this engine is producing power while this one may very well not be producing power. >> reporter: the cause should be known soon. the black boxes have already been recovered. tonight, the battered fuselage was hoisted from the river as the search continues for the missing with the death toll almost certain to rise. ian williams, nbc news, beijing. jordan today continued to vow revenge after the world witnessed the horror of isis burning a jordanian military pilot alive. they've already taken revenge with executions and threats of increased air strikes lending
credence to this idea that isis has pushed this months long conflict to a critical turning point now. our report on that tonight from our chief foreign affairs correspondent andrea mitchell. >> reporter: jordan is boiling over demanding revenge. a country united in outrage by the horrifying isis video rallying behind. >> i stand in support for every jordanian. >> reporter: so far the video is backfiring c much of the arab world, including the west bank except in raqqa. isis's self-proclaimed capital in syria. amateur video shows people cheering as they watched the video of the pilot's torturous fiery death. projected like an outdoor movie on the wall of a building, vowing a tough response that would shake the earth. king abdullah ordered the execution at dawn today of two convicted terrorists on death
row including the would-be suicide bomber, the woman isis had demanded be traded for the jordanian pilot. jordan intelligence services confirm what they had suspected, their pilot had been long dead burned alive in early january. what kind of steps is jordan likely to take? >> there is no question that this is going to intensify jordan's participation in the coalition against isis. >> reporter: that means more air strikes. but a key coalition member, the united arab emirates, stopped flying combat missions in december after jordan's pilot was captured complaining angrily that the pentagon didn't have search and rescue teams nearby. of special concern to the uae, many of their fighter jets are being flown by women like major mariam mansouri now grounded while her government demand more pentagon support. in fact, the jordanian pilot death has exposed long simmering anger by arab leaders who say the white house is not
permitting enough fire power to completing its goal of defeating and degrading isis. >> andrea mitchell, thanks. the head of the cdc is issuing a new warning tonight about this growing measles outbreak. we are also hearing from the organization at the forefront of the autism awareness community, autism speaks about why children should get vaccinated and the false information still lingering out there stoking fears about vaccines among some parents. we get our report tonight from nbc's hallie jackson. >> reporter: hundreds of travelers at the seattle airport are now being told they may have been exposed to measles. the latest in the outbreak has the head of the cdc warning today it could get worse. >> we're concerned measles could gain a foothold in this country if we don't stop it. >> reporter: more measles cases reported in january alone than in most of 2000 when the virus was declared wiped out. experts say the virus can spread
fast when vaccination rates dip below 90%. it's why health officials are trying to send a message, the shot is safe and necessary to stop the spread of a virus almost ten times more contagious than ebola. that episode last year, according to some critics, damaged the cdc's credibility. the cdc came under fire for how it handled the ebola outbreak then, why should people trust you now when it comes to this measles outbreak happening in this country? >> we rely on science. and we ask people to look at the data. we've seen the success of the measles program globally. >> reporter: most doctors say getting vaccinated should not be controversial but it has been to some ever since a now-discredited study was published 17 years ago claiming to link the measles shot to autism. >> once you scare someone, it's very hard to unscare them. >> reporter: but one of the nation's biggest and most well-respected autism advocacy groups say it's clear, vaccines do not cause autism. we urge all children to be vaccinated.
all five of carrie's kids are, including jack who has autism. she does not believe it was caused by the measles shot. >> i believe the research that they don't and i see in my own world that they haven't. >> reporter: her recent blog post racked up more than a million viewers, readers applauding her conclusion. >> yes, there's science, and yes, there's anecdote. but for me at the end of the day he's exactly the way he's supposed to be. >> reporter: hallie jackson, nbc news, los angeles. this evening more snow is moving into parts of the country that have already been hit hard. in illinois alone this week 13 people have died just while shoveling snow. meanwhile, on the west coast a flow of moisture-saturated air brings the threat of relentless rain and flooding to northern california, washington and oregon. the so-called pineapple express starting tomorrow night. snow in boston forced the city to delay until today the victory parade for the super bowl champion new england patriots. thousands lined the streets to hail the conquering heroes that snatched their victory over
seattle seahawks with a last-minute interception. a nation of second-guesser w tell you had the seahawks run the ball instead of throwing in those final moments today's parade would likely be taking place in the streets of seattle. instead in an exclusive interview with matt lauer, seahawks head coach pete carroll described the moment when it slipped away. >> take me back to when you weren't right and watched your expression as you saw that play unfold and bent over at the waist. and my heart broke for you, to be perfectly honest. how were you feeling inside? >> immediately, i mean within the instant of the turnover, the gravity of what just happened i understood. and there's only a second or two before you stand up and you start looking ahead and getting ready for what's coming. >> more of matt's exclusive interview with pete carroll that will air tomorrow morning on "today." still ahead for us tonight,
a new wave of hackers getting into your computer locking you out, holding everything hostage unless you pay up. and so far over a million people have been hit. also, our follow-up to a photo worth a thousand words and over a million dollars and counting. tonight, the extraordinary principal who inspired it all. tonight, the extraordinary principal who inspired it all. they call it planning for retirement because getting there requires exactly that. a plan for what you want your future to look like. for more than 145 years, pacific life has been providing solutions to help individuals like you achieve long-term financial security. bring your vision for the future to life with pacific life. talk to a financial advisor to help build and protect your retirement income. pacific life. the power to help you succeed. coughequence #5. the sleepless night. sorry. robitussin dm max nighttime's dual action liquid instantly soothes your throat and delivers fast, powerful cough relief. robitussin. don't suffer the coughequences.
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your private files but then lock you out with so-called ransomware, holding your computer and its files hostage unless and until you pay up. we get our report tonight from nbc's joe fryer. >> reporter: psychotherapist valerie goss didn't know what to think when she couldn't access any files on her computer, patient information, tax documents. everything was encrypted, locked up and held for ransom. >> i was really scared. and not sure what was the right thing to do. i felt violated. >> reporter: to unlock the files, cyber criminals demanded $500 paid in bitcoin, an online currency. they gave her 24 hours with a clock counting down on her computer. >> pressure. lots of pressure. >> reporter: goss's computer was infected with a virus called ransomware. >> the most common way they get on your machine is they send you an e-mail. and that e-mail has an attachment. and they do something to trick you into clicking on that attachment. >> reporter: one strain of
ransomware called cryptowall has struck nearly 1 million victims including police agencies. in dickson county the sheriff's department paid a $600 ransom after computers with important case files were paralyzed. >> you don't want to contribute to a criminal enterprise by paying a ransom, but at the same time we had to weigh that versus the fact we have a community that we support and serve. >> reporter: but many security experts say don't pay. >> if none of us pay the ransom, these guys would go out of business. >> reporter: goss didn't pay afraid there was no guarantee she'd get her stuff back. you had to make the choice to say good-bye to all those important documents. >> that's right. i had to think really hard what are in those files. >> reporter: she had to buy a new computer and spent a month replacing lost files. to help avoid her outcome, experts say keep security software updated and backup your files and be sure to disconnect the external hard drives. advice now heeded by goss who
never forked over ransom money but still paid the price. joe fryer, nbc news, mountainview, california. and we're back in a moment with the reason being suggested to explain a major outbreak of tornadoes. explain a major outbreak of tornadoes. ♪ [epic music] ♪ introducing aleve pm... the pm pain reliever. that dares to work all the way until... [birds chirping] the am. new aleve pm. it's the first to combine a safe sleep aid plus the 12 hour strength of aleve. for pain relief that can last all the way until morning. new aleve pm, for a better am. oh yea, that's coming down let's get some rocks, man.
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an incredible story about how interconnected our environment is. this is from the national climatic data center. it says smoke from fires in central america worsened a tornado outbreak in the u.s. in 2011. while some meteorologists are skeptical of this, this study at least says the tornadoes that year, that would include the tuscaloosa f-4 outbreak, were made more severe by smoke particles from agricultural land clearing fires to our south which they say increased storm rotation and intensification. charlie sifford has died. he was often called the jackie
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finally tonight, here we have a follow-up on a story that so many of you responded to about a chance encounter between a student and a photographer that changed everything for a school in new york city. it started with a single photo, but there is much more to tell, specifically about that school's principal who poured everything she had into educating her students but feared she wasn't really making a difference until something one of her students said struck a chord throughout this country. we get the story tonight from rehema ellis. >> reporter: after four years as principal of mott hall bridges academy in brooklyn, nadia lopez was burnt out, on the verge of quitting. >> i'm going to be honest. up until this moment i didn't
know i mattered. i didn't know anybody cared what i was doing. i didn't know if what i was doing was being validated because this is a thankless job sometimes. as an educator you're always giving. >> reporter: but then a photographer took this photo of student vidal with a caption about how she inspired him saying, she told each one of us that we matter. >> ms. lopez is like my second mom. >> reporter: it's got a million likes on the facebook page humans of new york. >> as much as you feel like ms. lopez keeps talking, ms. lopez keeps talking, i think you are so dynamic and exceptional. i never want you to feel like there's this cap on how far yo can go. >> reporter: seizing the moment, she and the photographer asked for money for a field trip to harvard. within days they raised more than $1.1 million, enough for many harvard trips, a summer program and a scholarship fund. >> you are inspiring an entire
world not just brownsville, not just brooklyn, not new york city, not the united states, the entire world. >> reporter: this week the ellen degeneres show flew them to los angeles and presented $100,000 from target. >> they're outfitting everything classroom at mott hall bridges academy with state-of-the-art technology. and they're going to give similar grants to every school in the community. >> reporter: a principal who has helped students see their own value now sees hers. >> i appreciate you. >> reporter: rehema ellis, nbc news, brooklyn. >> how about that? that's why we call it making a difference. and that is our broadcast for this wednesday night. thank you for being here with us as always. i'm brian williams. of course we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. good night.