tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC September 15, 2015 7:00pm-7:31pm EDT
tonight, lost in the flood. a wall of rushing water and debris trapping mothers and children in their vehicles. rescuers springing in action. at least 12 are dead. and tonight the search for the missing. caught on camera. richard engel exposing the danger of refugee falling prey to human smugglers ready to exploit they are desperation for an enormous price. rey to rumble. the second debris -- debate expected to be a fight but donald trump says bring is on and jeb bush looks to avoid a knockout. and the new cold wa an extraordinary journey to the top of the world. rising temperatures are opening a new race with russia and many fear america can't catch up. "nightly news" begins right now.
good evening. late today the death toll climbed near utah's border with arizona where a wall of water with breathtaking speed and power swept away vehicles filled with people, killing at least a dozen. this is what it looked like late yesterday as the flash flood waters came thundering down a creek near hildale, utah. the drivers of a van and suv helpless as water and debris carried them downstream. passengers had to be pulled to safety after raging waters over took them. nbc's ron mott is there for us. >> reporter: it happened in an in stand. >> oh, it went over the fence. >> reporter: raging floodwaters and mud ripping across a road, two vehicles filled with three families, 16 people, disappearing. swept away hundreds of yards. three survived.
as did others who were trapped. rescued and able to wade away to safety in knee-high water. virginia black shot this video on her cell phone. her concern building as fast as the water rose. >> the first thought was what about the people in the vehicle, wished we could do something be started to realize we were in trouble too. >> today search crews continue their efforts to find the missing as the remains of rubber and metal were recovered, shelter for the victims one moment and a tomb the next. >> i've lived here all of my life and never seen anything like this. >> a pair of late afternoon storm cells blew over the community of hildale, utah, and colorado city, arizona. dumping an estimated 2.5 inches of rain in just two hours. >> from top of the peeks near short to hildale is over a thousand feet and it is a wall of water rushing into hildale. >> the community is far less known than the man who inspired the creation, warren jeffs, serving a life
sentence for child sexual assault. tonight the mourning continues. an unimaginable loss that hit so suddenly, and touching so many. >> yeah, it hurts. it hurts my heart hearing about all of these people. >> reporter: adding to the misery and sadness, the area has again under a flash flood warning. take a look behind me. the water from the creek runs under the road. and residents have never seen it like this and hope to never again and we are getting word that the tragedy has expanded 50 niles from here. zion national park, there is three confirmed dead there and another four missing. >> ron mott there for us, thank you. /s now to the other disaster in the west. the catastrophic wildfire burns hundreds of people out of their homes in northern california. some who fled are
returning to find nothing left. nbc's national correspondent miguel almaguer has the story. >> reporter: 600 homes in middletown, california, are suddenly gone. that is what main street used to look like. now all that is left of the two story apartment complex is two feet of ash. >> it is devastating. i've never seen anything like it. >> the homecoming for chelsea ripley is bittersweet. her house is still standing, most of her neighborhood is gone. >> it is hard to think that a lot of these people aren't going to be here any more. a lot of the town is gone and it is hard to live in a town where there is no one. >> reporter: this is winnie pugh's home saturday night and this is what it looked like today. >> i'm normally a fighter. but i can't fight any more. >> reporter: the so-called valley fire is still burning. billowing toxic smoke and raining ash into the air. thousands of homes are still in harm's way. these are the tough choices firefighters face. at times letting one block go, to save
another. >> you are basically looking out your windshield and making an instant decision what structures can you save and what ones do you have to let go. >> eight firefighters have lost homes here as they battle to save others. among them, robert taylor, who now lives with most of middletown, in this evacuation center. >> it is very relatable and it is real. it happened to me. i feel for all of the people. i feel exactly the same way they do. >> reporter: tonight, much of middletown is a disaster zone. it could be several days if not several weeks before most of the public comes home. and this is likely what they will find. there is good news on the fire front. cooler temperatures have slowed the blaze. though it is grown to nearly 70,000 acres. tonight, lester, it is nearly 15% contained. >> miguel almaguer. thank you. hungary has declared a state of crisis on the southern border as it shuts out refugees and migrants
headed north. as we reported from there last night. thousands of men and women and children are on the move and facing tightened borders on europe. as the journey becomes more difficult, they grow more desperate and turning to smugglers for help that carries its own risk. chief foreign correspondent richard engel now. >> reporter: hungary has sealed the southern border, stranding thousands of desperate refugees and migrants. but no fence is going to keep them out. this morning, soldiers repaired a hole cut overnight. and waiting for those who do get through are smugglers. the government promises to crack down. >> we are trying to step up against human smugglers or illegal organized crime and we are going to introduce draconian measures against organized crime. >> like what? >> prison up to ten years. >> reporter: but smuggling is thriving and it didn't take us long to spot the syrian men negotiating with two locals. when they spotted our camera, the smugglers walked away.
and the rest of the family emerged from hiding. >> translator: we are scared of the smugglers but we have no choice, he tells us. you can't live in constant fear of death. you have to take risks to arrive at a safe place. we hide our camera in the tall grass by the side of the road and see the family approached by one smuggler after another. this one offers to take them to the next town over. the price, $100 each. others offer to take them all the way to sweden for $1,000 each. half off for kids. the family can't afford that. so they keep walking. you see them everywhere. men, lingering in their cars. with a cell phone recording in my pocket, i approach one driver. >> if somebody wants to go to germany, can you take? how much? >> how many. >> four or five people, all the way to germany. >> germany?
>> german. >> yeah. >> then he gets suspicious about my phone. we leave before things escalate but the smuggling continues with no shortage of potential customers. richard engel, nbc news, ruske, hungary. >> tonight round two of the republican debates is upon us. and it is expected to be explosive. with trump expecting to be a target and fellow outsider candidates gaining in the polls. and jeb bush once considered a front-runner is looking for a come back. peter alexander sets the stage. >> reporter: here at the reagan library the battle tomorrow night to win one like the gipper, with trump dominated and bush fading. trump popping, with ben carson closing in and carly fiorina gaining steam. they now boast a majority of republican support. the early establishment favorite bush falling well behind. >> i'm the tortoise in the race. but i'm a joyful
tortoise. >> jeb now hovering at 6%. trump has bashed bush as boring. >> i think he is a low energy person. >> reporter: while trump is packing them in by the thousands. bush's crowds are far smaller. analysts say bush underperformed in the first debate and hampered by his last name. he's tried to connect the conservative legacy to reagan's. and reached out to latinos in spanish. [ speaking in a foreign language ] >> reporter: still, with no traction, a republican insider insists bush needs to stand up to trump. >> he needs to take the fight to donald and take a page out of the donald trump playbook and point out to voters that donald trump isn't ready to be president. >> reporter: bush said this time he'll be ready. >> someone comes at me, bam, i'll come back at them. don't worry about that. >> bush's trump card is his fundraising. more than $100 million in the first year and his superpac with an
$20 million ad buy. tonight a former adviser tells me bush has to be shorter, sharper and more passionate and urging patience saying trump rise will pass by like a fever or the end of us. >> peter, thank you. the ride to school turned tragic for students in houston when their school bus plunged over a pass -- a highway overpass. and two students were killed and a bus driver was injured. police say a car making an unsafe lane change hit the bus. that causes it to veer into and over the guard rail. no charges have been filed but the crash does remain under investigation. a grand jury is now recommending charges against 37 fraternity brothers in the death of a pledge during a hazing ritual. some were accused of delaying help to cover up the crime. and five members face third degree murder charges. we get the story from re
>> authorities say michael deng, a 19-year-old college freshman, died in a brutal hazing ritual called the glass ceiling. >> you get through a line of brothers, while fraternity members shove and tackle the pledges. >> it happened two years ago at this home in the poconos in pennsylvania. according to court documents, deng, a freshman in new york, was blindfolded and ordered could carry a backpack carried with 30 pounds of sand across a snow-covered field. repeatedly assaulted and eventually knocked out. sustaining a significant brain injury. instead of calling 911 right away, authorities say fraternity members called the national president. he is one of the 37 indicted. five were charged with third degree murder. today a lawyer for one accused of lesser counts said charging everyone present is not justified and not provable. the college banned the fraternity and
suspended all pledging activities. according to one report, there have been more than 60 fraternity-related deaths since 2005. what do you think this particular case could mean going forward as far as hazing is concerns? >> that the code of silence will be broken and that there will be charges against everybody, not just one or two people. >> reporter: today michael deng's family said it will pursue a wrongful death suit so other parents will be spared the loss of a precious child. rehema ellis, nbc news, new york. there is a lot more to tell you about here tonight. an extraordinary new view from the top of the world. we take you to the arctic where melting sea ice has triggered a new cold war with russia. >> also stranded at sea with no way to call for help. three teens with no way back until an incredible stroke of luck. with passion. but i keep it growing by making every dollar count.
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we're back now to tell you about a power struggle at the top of the world. and the first of a series of special reports, nbc news has spent the past four months traveling to the arctic which in -- has seen the most melting ice since nasa began keeping track in 1978. the warming watering are opening up the region and the race to dominate it like never before. nbc's cynthia mcfadden has the story. >> reporter: it isn't easy getting to the front lines of the new cold war. a war many think america is losing.
the suits are for safety. survival in arctic waters is mere minutes. we're headed 20 miles out to sea. the cutter, alex haley, patrolling as part of the coast guard mission arctic shield. landing is terrifying, and thrilling. captain seth denning welcomes us aboard. with no deepwater ports in the alaska arctic, they are at sea for 60 days. >> we left nome. we're in this vicinity right here. >> reporter: the rapidly melting ice is bringing new opportunities and new headaches here. including more sea traffic. part of the coast guard mission is to scope out who is up here and why. from november until may, ice makes the waters impassable without ice breakers. >> so after october, the haley is not coming out here. >> no, ma'am. >> the maps are old and incomplete.
even open water can be dangerous. >> so you are getting -- guessing when you are going through here? >> right. north of nome there are a lot of blank spaces. >> melting ice is making the treacherous northwest passage, passable. if it becomes reliable enough for international shipping it could shave thousands of miles off the route of the panama canal, saving 30% of the cost as well. meanwhile, smaller ships are here in record numbers. but with just two aging ice breakers, the u.s. is largely frozen out of here for nine months. russia on the other hand has 41 ice breakers. many of them nuclear and they are actively building more. the u.s. has none under construction. >> coast guard admiral told me a couple of years ago, this was a ball game, the u.s. wouldn't be in the field, we won't be in the stands, we wouldn't be in the parking lot. we are last. >> you have to gain the attention of the american people. >> retired admiral bob papp is the former commandant of the
coast guard. >> finland has more ice breakers than we do. >> sweden has more ice breakers than we do, canada has more ice breakers than we do. >> yes. >> pap is now the u.s. representative to the arctic council. >> so on the scale of urgent, where is it? >> that is one of the most urgent things we need to do for the arctic. you need to have assured access into your maritime bounders. >> u.s. on the right and russia on the left. >> right. >> passing through the bering strait, a clear reminder of who does have access, the russians. >> vladimir putin has called the bering strait the next suez canal. the russian military has identified the arctic as a probable place for war in the next coming century over resources. they had immense war gains in may. and when the russians have a war game, who is the opponent? the opponent is nato so the opponent is us. >> reporter: back on the ship. the helicopter we rode in on is grounded. it needs a part that will take two weeks to get here.
our only way off, down the ladder and into the rubber boat. navigating the rough and changing waters of the arctic takes on new urgency. president obama recently proposed speeding up the process of acquiring a new ice breaker but with a billion dollar price tag and ten-year production schedule, no one is expected an american ice breaker any time soon. >> that is the price of one? >> just one. >> thank you very much. we're back in a moment with the camera that fell to the earth and the amazing images it captured while it was lost at space.
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call back to land for help. they had no radio, gps or cell phone. fortunately a good samaritan stumbled upon them and called in a tow. pope francis will arrive in the u.s. a week from today and when he gets here he is expected to give 18 speeches during visits to washington, new york and philadelphia. but only four of those speeches will be in english, according to the vatican. for the majority of his homilies, the hope will speak in his native spanish. and we're finally seeing incredible images from a long last camera that journeyed to the edge of space and back. it was a go pro camera attached to a weather balloon and captured the grand canyon from 100,000 feet and on the way down. the stanford university students who launched it lost track of it but a hiker stumbled upon it earlier this year. incredible pictures. when we come back, the attraction that has them lining up for hours in the lone star state. how you can cut right to the front.
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finally tonight, a story about patience paying off. waiting as they say is the hardest part. but in a state where the barbecue is so good folks camp out for it, a young man can get you to the front of the line if the price is right. here is harry smith. >> reporter: only in tes do they not consider you crazy for getting in line for barbecue at 5:00 in the morning. there is a line every day at franklin's in austin, and at the front every day not in school is desmond waldin. >> is there always a line. >> there is always a line no matter what. there is never a day where there is not a long line. >> the fires burn inside 24/7 and from them come melt in your mouth brisket and ribs you can't live without. but desmond is not here to eat. being first in line is his business. >> what time do your customers show up. >> 11:00 a.m. normally but i'm having them come at 10:50. >> reporter: it is called barbecue fast pass and he has a website. for $100 and up,
desmond or one of his pals will hold a place for you. his customers are very impressed. >> it's unbelievable. >> he's here at 5:00 in the morning. that is a lot of time. >> and were that not enough. desmond donated 5% of the proceeds to the local animal shelter because that is where his dog came from. and every week desmond tweets about other animals in need of adoption. he's placed a dozen so far. wanted, for the future of america, must be ambitious, creative and must have a good heart. he's the kid at the front of the line. harry smith, nbc news, austin. >> and i have one question for him, do you deliver? that will do it for us on this tuesday night. i'm lester holt, for all of us at nbc news, thank you for watching and good night. t nbc news, thank you for watching and good night.