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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  March 16, 2018 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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and next tuesday night through thursday. 3/4 to 1 1/2 inches. >> okay. we can use it. thank you, jeff. see you at 6:00. bye. tonight, inside the bridge disaster in miami as new questions swirl over why that road wasn't closed while crews worked on the bridge. and tonight we're hearing from a student who miraculously survived. >> i was scared for my life. i didn't think i was going to make it out of the car. >> his friend was tragically killed as the bridge came crashing down on their car. a bombshell new claim from the lawyer for adult film actress stormy daniels. >> was she threatened in any way? >> yes. >> was she threatened physical harm? >> yes. >> was there retaliation for her attempts to go public over an alleged affair with donald trump? a deadly chopper crash in iraq. seven american troops killed including two new york firefighters. a violent scene on the slopes caught on camera.
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an out of control ski lift sending people flying. there's word of another mix-up involving a dog put on the wrong united flight. and it was music to the ears of generations. ♪ i don't want to grow up ♪ ♪ i'm a toys "r" us kid ♪ >> the woman behind an iconic tune on the end of an era. this is nbc news "nightly news" with lester holt. good evening. welcome to our viewers in the west. the search and rescue mission in miami tonight is sadly now only a search. teams now focused on reaching cars buried under concrete slabs, and those who might have perished inside them. officials say at least six people died when a still incomplete pedestrian bridge at florida international university collapsed yesterday onto a busy road below. tonight questions and disbelief over why cars were allowed to pass beneath the bridge during a critical construction phase. as a young man who emerged from the wreckage shares his miracle story of survival.
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our gabe gutierrez has details. >> reporter: in their grim search, tonight investigators don't expect to find any more survivors. she was your best friend? >> yeah. >> reporter: richard humble, a sophomore at florida international university, says he was in this car with fellow student, alexa duran, when the bridge came crashing down. >> oh, my god. >> reporter: this surveillance video showing the horrifying moment. >> it was just way too fast. >> reporter: humble says he was in the passenger seat and alexa was driving. he barely escaped. she did not. >> i didn't think i was going to make it out of the car. and i screamed her name over and over again, but i didn't hear anything. >> reporter: richard called his mother moments after the catastrophic collapse. that's him in the white shorts. >> the bridge fell on us. >> reporter: what goes through a mother's head when they get that phone call? >> he said, i have a lot of blood around me. it's not mine, mom.
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i have a lot of blood. >> reporter: senator marco rubio tweeting the cables that suspend the miami bridge had loosened and the engineering firm ordered that they be tightened. they were being tightened when it collapsed. despite that, the big question remains why wasn't traffic halted on this busy eight-lane road if work was being done? >> this project, it was not an fdot project. >> reporter: governor rick scott quick to point out that the florida department of transportation was not responsible for the project but that fiu was. >> we bear responsibility, no question about it. >> reporter: why not stop traffic while this whole process was happening, while tests were being conducted? >> that's a very good question. >> reporter: the project's two contractors, munilla construction and figg bridge design, released statements sending condolences and promising to cooperate with investigators. neither commenting on whether they should have told anyone to shut down the intersection. >> i think this is insane negligence. >> reporter: for richard humble, the magnitude of the loss is still sinking in.
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>> just think i'm just going to wake up tomorrow and see her again, but it's not going to happen. >> reporter: authorities say the death toll here is at least six. both contractors involved have faced questions about their past work. after one incident in 2012 in virginia and another in 2016 at ft. lauderdale's airport. but fiu says there were no red flags. lester? >> gabe gutierrez for us there tonight, thank you. the irony of the miami tragedies was that the bridge was being constructed in a way designed to be safer and have less impact on traffic. chances are we have all crossed on or below bridges built using the very same method. engineers say the technic is safe but not without its risks. so what could have gone wrong? our tom costello has been speaking to experts. >> reporter: nearly every day across the country crews install pedestrian and highway bridges using abc, accelerated bridge construction techniques.
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rather than closing down a road to build a bridge, the bridge is prefabricated off site, sometimes right next to the road. it's considered just as safe as a traditional bridge, but there is risk. when the assembly is slid across the road and raised into position, putting the bridge under stress and strain. >> there's so many variables that could have gone wrong in this construction, from the materials themselves, from their strength. the concrete takes a number of days to come up to strength. >> reporter: while abc bridges can cost 30% more, they're faster to build, reducing road delays and safety risks. since the late '80s hundreds of bridges have been built this way, including the willis avenue bridge over the harlem river in new york, the ben sawyer swing bridge in south carolina, and the twin span bridge over lake pontchartrain in louisiana. and this bridge on the george washington parkway in virginia. in most cases, engineers use the same steel and concrete they use in traditional bridges. veteran bridge engineer ralph verrastro. >> a typical bridge by conventional methods let's say might take a year. using abc, you can reduce it to six months or perhaps three months.
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and in some cases, whole bridges are constructed over a weekend. >> reporter: in miami, investigators will look at the design, construction and quality of materials to determine a cause. in a tragic irony, florida international university has long been a leader in abc engineering research. tom costello, nbc news, maclean, virginia. we turn to the scandal president trump cannot seem to shake, one that may have serious implications far beyond simply an accusation of infidelity. today an attorney for the adult film actress who was allegedly paid hush money to keep quiet about an affair with mr. trump days before the 2016 election said she was also physically threatened to stay silent. he claims more women are coming forward. nbc news white house correspondent kristen welker has the story. >> reporter: the bombshell came from stormy daniels' lawyer. michael avenatti telling "morning joe" daniels was physically threatened to stay silent about her alleged 2006 affair with then-citizen donald trump. >> was she threatened
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in any way? >> yes. >> was she threatened physical harm? >> yes. >> was her life threatened? >> again, i'm not going to answer that. >> reporter: avenatti making the media rounds, refusing to say today whether the threats came before or after daniels signed a nondisclosure agreement accepting $130,000 right before election day not to talk about her alleged relationship with mr. trump. daniels is now suing, saying the deal isn't valid because she says the president never signed the paperwork. michael cohen, president trump's outside attorney, who says he paid daniels out of his own pocket as a part of that agreement, didn't respond to requests for comment today. adding to the growing controversy? >> we've been approached by six separate women who claim to have similar stories to those or to that of my client. >> reporter: the white house has denied any relationship between the president and the porn star and is now on defense yet again. >> obviously, we take the safety and security of any person seriously.
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certainly would condemn anyone threatening any individual, but i have no knowledge of that situation. >> reporter: so what's the president saying? not much. for a self-proclaimed counterpuncher who has rarely backed away from a fight, he's been uncharacteristically silent. >> reporter: mr. president, did you have a relationship with a woman named stormy daniels? >> reporter: legal analysts say if true, any threat could pose serious legal challenges. >> threatening someone to enter into a contract is a form of extortion, but even without the contract, threatening someone with physical violence in general is usually a crime all by itself. >> reporter: this week nbc news confirmed that a top lawyer for the trump organization was involved in trying to enforce that secrecy agreement that daniels signed. still, the white house maintains mr. trump wasn't aware of the payment. lester? >> kristen welker at the white house tonight, thank you. now to the palace intrigue, if you will, swirling in and around the building where kristen was just standing. white house staff on
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edge waiting and wondering who could be next after the ouster of secretary of state rex tillerson. some big names are being floated about who is in and who is out and when will president trump make his next move. here's nbc's peter alexander. >> reporter: tonight inside the west wing a tense waiting game over who could be the next to go and when. the president himself this week stoking speculation. >> i'm really at a point where we're getting very close to having the cabinet and other things that i want. there will always be change. and i think you want to see change. >> reporter: among those in danger, national security adviser, h.r. mcmaster as first reported by nbc news. >> you stay in. >> you go back to the army? >> reporter: with the president actively discussing possible replacements, according to sources familiar with the matter, include former ambassador to the u.n., john bolton. the white house insisting mcmaster's job is safe. >> i spoke to the president last night. he asked me to pass that message along to
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general mcmaster. >> reporter: also in jeopardy, veterans affairs director david shulkin under fire for a scathing report on the v.a.'s washington medical center. floated as a possible successor "fox & friends" co-host pete hegseth. >> it's a thrill a minute. >> reporter: and in limbo hud secretary ben carson and the head of interior ryan zinke. yesterday testing his japanese when asked about funding related to world war ii internment camps. >> will we see it funded again in 2018? >> konnichiwa. >> i think it's still ohayo gozaimasu. but that's okay. >> reporter: the exodus of dozens of white house aides and secretaries defining his first 18 months in office. so what's next? >> we spoke to a number of staff this morning reassuring them no immediate personnel changes at this time and people shouldn't be concerned. >> reporter: h.r. mcmaster was notably visible today making several trips past the cameras as a source close to mcmaster tells us he's not resigning, that he
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believes there's simply too much at stake for the country. lester? >> peter alexander this evening. thank you. now to a deadly day in the fight against isis. an air force special operations helicopter crashed in western iraq near syria killing seven american troops. and we just learned two new york firefighters are among the dead. our pentagon correspondent hans nichols has been digging into what caused the crash. >> reporter: it's the air force's version of the army's blackhawk. and tonight the pentagon saying two pave hawks like this one were transporting search and rescue teams near the iraq/syria border when one went down. military officials say just after sunset, the two were flying west when one likely hit a power line, crashing in an area where there's still pockets of isis. this second pave hawk then circled back to help secure the perimeter with help from local iraqi security forces on the ground. officials say the crash does not appear to be the result of hostile fire. all seven airmen aboard the downed pave
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hawk were killed. among the dead two new york city firefighters fire marshal christopher zanetis and lieutenant christopher raguso. his former commander said this tour was to be his last. >> the guy just loved to save and help people. >> reporter: the accident the latest in a string of mishaps including four deadly accidents involving blackhawks. in november, the air force secretary warning budget shortfalls may be to blame for the uptick in accidents. >> you just don't know exactly when things will break, but we are stretching the force to the limit. and we need to start turning the corner on readiness. >> reporter: tonight there are more than 7,000 u.s. troops in syria and iraq still targeting isis, many of them depending on these rescue choppers. and it's often the pave hawks that take on the most dangerous missions. lester? >> hans nichols at the pentagon, thanks. now to the deepening mysteries over who may be targeting critics of russian president vladimir putin in the uk. britain's top diplomat
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is now accusing putin of likely ordering a nerve agent attack on a russian ex-spy and his daughter. british police today making a dramatic announcement about the death of another russian this week. this as putin prepares to cruise to victory in an election this weekend. nbc chief foreign correspondent richard engel has more for us from moscow. >> reporter: it appears someone is wiping out russian president vladimir putin's critics in the uk. today british police say they now believe russian businessman nikolai glushkov, whose death until monday was described as unexplained, was murdered. no suspect was named, but britain's foreign minister today accused putin of ordering the poisoning of another critic, former russian spy sergei skripal and his daughter yulia, with a chemical weapon. >> we think it overwhelmingly likely that it was his decision to direct the use of a nerve agent on the streets of the uk.
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>> reporter: tonight there are reports not confirmed by nbc news the nerve agent may have been planted in yulia skripal's luggage. both sergei skripal and glushkov are connected to former spy alexander litvinenko, poisoned in london over a decade ago. the uk saying putin probably approved that attack. but putin is taking it all in stride ahead of elections on sunday. for president putin, the focus now is turnout. he wants to show the world that russians aren't just going to re-elect him but went to the polls enthusiastically. >> strong president. strong russia. putin the best. >> reporter: others appear resigned to six more years of putin. >> i feel that nothing's going to change. >> reporter: russia says it is launching its own investigations into the murders, has asked for a sample of the nerve agent and accused british authorities of not being fully cooperative. lester? >> richard engel in moscow, thanks. the faa is taking
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action after that deadly tourist chopper crash in new york. the faa is suspending all so-called doors-off helicopter tours unless the aircraft have quick-release restraints in the event of an emergency. five tourists died last weekend strapped into a helicopter with its doors off that plunged into the east river. still ahead for us tonight, another dog disaster for united airlines. how the carrier's latest pet mix-up became a became major hassle for an entire plane load of passengers. the nightmare on the slopes when a ski lift goes haywire sending riders flying in all directions and all caught on camera.
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it has happened again. another mistake by united airlines involving a beloved pet. this time an entire flight was diverted because of yet another dog mix-up after a week filled with bad headlines over united's handling of passengers' pets. nbc's anne thompson has the latest. >> reporter: this has been a tough week for the friendly skies and
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man's best friend. for the second time united airlines put a dog on the wrong plane causing flight 3996 headed from newark to st. louis thursday to make an unscheduled landing in akron, ohio, to drop off the dog. in a statement today, united says the pet has been safely delivered to its owner and it provided compensation to all customers on board for the diversion. irgo, a 10-year-old german shepherd, is reunited with the swindle family. he was sent to japan tuesday instead of kansas city. >> oh he jumped up and was just crying. when he's superexcited he cries. so i'm just glad he's okay. >> reporter: united flew irgo back in style on a private jet and tried to make amends for what the airline says was a mix-up during connections in denver. there is still heartbreak for this family after their puppy kokito died on a united flight from houston to new york
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when the flight attendant, apparently not realizing kokito was in the bag, ordered it placed in the overhead bin. owner catelina roledo, who is not fluent in english, says kokito barked and barked, but she couldn't get to him because of turbulence. a texas district attorney is investigating and two u.s. senators have proposed a bill banning pets from overhead bins to make sure flying is as safe for dogs as people. anne thompson, nbc news, new york. still to come tonight, two major recalls on a popular over-the-counter medicine. and products posing a danger to young children. and the end of an era. the songwriter behind the jingle that made us all want to be toys "r" us kids.
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one of the longest serving democrats in congress has died. louise slaughter represented her upstate new york district for 31 years making her the house's third longest serving woman. tonight tributes are
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pouring in from both sides of the aisle. nancy pelosi calling her a trail blazer. paul ryan calling slaughter a giant in the people's house. she passed away following a fall at her washington home. louise slaughter was 88 years old. two important recalls to tell you about. bayer announced a recall of alka-seltzer plus due to a labeling error that could pose a serious health risk. the recall includes packages sold after february 9th that have bayer logos with orange or green backgrounds in the lower left corner. also nearly 600,000 dr. brown's lovely pacifier and teether holders are also being recalled. the products have snaps that can detach and pose a choking hazard. take a look at this. a frightening scene caught on camera on the slopes in the country of georgia. an out of control ski lift going way too fast in reverse. panicked skiers started to jump off, others were thrown violently through the air. at least ten people were injured, but thankfully none of them seriously.
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that's just wild. when we come back, the story behind the jingle that will live on in the minds of kids of all ages as toys "r" us prepares to close its doors. next at 6: h
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solutions some think could fix your commute. plus, how about a break from the rain? i )ll tell you what i )m seeing about weekend drying and next week )s return of heavy rain. next at 6 right now at 6: the work week ending how it started. finally tonight, it's the sound track to so many american childhoods, but the famed toys "r" us jingle has now, sadly, become a swan song with the chain announcing it's going out of business. our kristen dahlgren talks to the songwriter behind it. ♪ i don't want to grow up ♪ ♪ i'm a toys "r" us kid ♪ >> reporter: it's quite possibly the catchiest jingle of all time. just ask grammy winner john legend. ♪ toys "r" us kid >> reporter: written by this woman, linda kaplan thaler, in
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1982. >> i was a junior junior copyrighter. >> reporter: at the time she didn't think it was any good, but within days of that first commercial -- >> i heard this mother screaming to her kid, if you don't stop singing that song, we are never going to catch the bus for school. >> reporter: since then it's aired around the world in dozens of languages. a song that seems to tap into a collective sentiment. >> none of us should ever lose the feeling of being a child inside. >> reporter: this week, with news of toys "r" us closing its doors, the tributes poured in. ♪ i don't want to grow up ♪ ♪ because if i did >> reporter: for linda and her husband, fred, who did the musical compositions, sentimentality spurring one last lyric. ♪ toys "r" us is no more ♪ ♪ because they're closing their door ♪ >> reporter: and just maybe a hope that at least the song will live on. ♪ but we'll always be a toys "r" us kid ♪ >> reporter: kristen dahlgren, nbc news, new york.
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>> if you're still humming it or singing it come tomorrow morning, feel free to blame us. we appreciate you spending part of your evening with us. that's "nightly news" for this friday night. jose diaz-balart will be here tomorrow. i'm lester holt. for all of us at nbc news, thanks for watching and good night.with cloud filled skies roads. we )re tracking a storm moving through the bay area. right now at 6:00, the workweek ending. how it started with cloud filled skies. wet roadways. tracking a storm moving through the bay area. the news at 6:00 starts. good evening. thank you for joining us on friday. i'm janelle wang in for raj mathai, i'm jessica aguirre. rain to the bay area. snow to the sierras. umbrellas, puddles in san how say. the snow is making it a tough drive to tahoe. weather is working against rescuers trying to find this man. a missing skier from richmond.
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he spent wednesday skiing. when he didn't make it back to his cabin. his wife reached out to the alpine county sheriff's office. rescuers grounded. because of all of the snow. low visibility. wind. 36 inches have fallen of snow in the last two days. when he disappeared the international guard, chp, marin search-and-rescue said they went out looking for mr. malarkey. they still are. though facing extreme avalanche conditions. >> back in the bay area. tracking rain like we have been seeing all week long. take a look at san francisco. sunny. beautiful. meteorologist, jeff ranieri tracking where the sunshine is and where the rain is cupping down. jeff. >> the rainfall now is pretty intermitent. you've will see here on storm ranger, mobile doppler radar. don't have widespread coverage of wet weather. there are pockets that we have been seeing throughout the afternoon. right now, here from, daly city. san francisco, rain near the airport. moving towards the east

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