tv Dateline NBC NBC October 22, 2010 8:00pm-10:00pm EST
on day three, a routine flight and then -- >> it just went down. just like that. >> tonight, the tragedy. courage. your son was your will at that moment to live. and the battle to survive a plane crash on a rainy remote mountain side. >> pretty soon we would die of exposure. >> reporter: the heroic doctor hiking to the site. >> he said to me, am i going to
die? >> reporter: volunteers risking their lives. >> huge rocks the size of volkswagens. it was a really big problem. >> reporter: the 19-hour ordeal. >> it got cold and nasty. >> reporter: two brave teenagers. >> he demonstrated courage, maturity well beyond his years. >> reporter: and the father fighting to save his son. >> i don't care what it takes. i'll find a way to get through this. >> reporter: the gripping inside story of the rescue on the mountain side. good evening. you probably heard of the plane crash that killed former alaska senator ted stephens. what hasn't been reported is the struggle of the survivors who waited all night for rescue helicopters to reach them. tonight, a minute by minute account of heroism, survival against the odds and a father's love as he struggled to save his
teenage son. it's a spectacular place. it is an opportunity just to share that with my son. >> reporter: he could see it on his son's face every time they lured another giant salmon out of the pristine waters. that same awe he feels for alaska's rugged wilderness. >> he clearly appreciated every moment of it. >> reporter: it should have been a whole weekend of moments like those. four days of fishing and bonding with his son in a place that has long held a claim on his heart. >> for 30 years, i was up there at least once a year and sometimes more. >> reporter: for 54-year-old sean o'keefe whose resume includes top "washington post" as secretary of the navy and
chief of nasa and ceo of a private aerospace and decompany it is the quiet of this vast state that entices him. i would think with all of the intense stress positions you have that maybe going there with your family is a chance to breathe and just to be free. >> yep. it's an atmosphere where you rarely wear a watch. >> reporter: no watches, not a care in the world besides what is biting on the end of the line. that's all sean wanted when he took 19-year-old kevin to alaska in august. just the two of them. his wife laura and two older children stayed home. >> really, it's about spending time with dad. >> no question about that. if shawn liked tying flies, that's what they would do together. they j just always gotten along beautifully. >> have the same qualities? >> yes. >> reporter: but this time mat jess tick setting is the back drob for a harrowing, life changing ordeal. one that would test this
father's love and courage and force him to face some wrenching realities. >> how fragile life can be. >> i got down on my knees and i prayed and i sat in the chair and waited. >> one of the first things he said to me is am i going to die? >> how do you answer a question like that? >> not on my shift. >> reporter: for sean and kevin it all began on friday, august 6th when laura dropped them at washington's dulles airport. >> and you gave them a little bit of an admonition. >> i said "sean, you bring my boy back to me, safe and sound, all in one piece." and he said "yes, maam. of course i will." same thing to kevin. i said "you bring your dad home all in one piece." and he said "yeah." >> why did you say that? >> i always say that when they go off on an adventure. alaska's a wild and wonderful place. >> reporter: just getting around alaska -- where small planes are used like town cars -- can be risky. with so many planes traversing
the mountainous terrain -- often in unpredictable weather --it is no wonder the state accounts for more than a third of the entire country's commuter accidents. >> you weren't thinking about all that, you were thinking about a fun time? >> absolutely. >> reporter: on saturday, they arrived at this lodge on lake nerka. 30 miles north of the small town of dillingham. a place where everyone knows everyone, and the fishing is considered prime. >> you can fish in the complete wilderness. you're not going to see another group of fisherman. >> reporter: dr. dani bowman -- whose husband's company owns the lodge --was there that weekend. from the moment sean and kevin arrived she could see them relishing that "no watch on the wrist" downtime. >> happy, happy, happy. they'd been able to do things that they valued besides fishing. evening poker games. "texas hold 'em" i believe was the favorite. >> you were having so much fun that at one point, kevin --
age 19 -- gets to smoke his first cigar. [ laughter ] >> well, it was the first time he'd caught, you know, a coho salmon, and thought that was probably an appropriate idea. >> to say "congratulations." a nice bonding moment from a father to a son. >> it was. >> reporter: among the other lodge guest that's weekends were some of sean's closest washington friends. former senator ted stevens. lobbyist bill phillips, who was there with his 13-year-old son, willy. and lobbyist jim morhard. sean had known each one of them for more than 25 years. there were some new faces too -- dana tindall, an executive for the corporation that owns the lodge, and her 16-year-old daughter, corey. and their pilot for the weekend -- terry smith, a 28 year veteran of alaska airlines. >> he was a by-the-book kind of pilot and knew exactly what you had to do in order to be prepared for every flight. very impressive fellow. >> reporter: all weekend, smith flew the group to various fishing spots in the lodge's
single-engine float plane known as an otter. but on monday, august 9th -- the third day of their trip -- it was wet and dreary. so they bided their time inside until 2:00 pm. >> terry walks in and says "weather's lifted. it looks fine. anybody want to go fishing?" so we immediately packed up. everybody pulled on the waders. >> reporter: half an hour later, sean and kevin were climbing on board. >> so it was just kind of the luck of the draw. there was no seating assignment. there were no tickets that told you where to sit. >> reporter: people just grabbed a seat? >> yeah. >> reporter: as the eight passengers settled in, sean urged kevin to snag the prime seat -- right up in the cockpit, next to the pilot. >> the seat was vacant. so i said "hey kev, you know, the seat's open. why don't you take it?" >> reporter: how could he possibly know what a fateful choice that was? or that in just 15 minutes their lives would change forever? >> no notice, no change in
altitude, no turbulence. it just -- impact. >> when "rescue on the mountainside" continues. [ male announcer ] there's a big idea happening in health care called the humana walmart- preferred prescription plan. it's a medicare prescription drug plan that saves you an average of over $450 a year, with monthly plan premiums less than $15 and copays as low as $2. with savings like these, you have more time to remember what it's really all about.
enroll starting november 15. ♪ go to walmart.com for details. ♪ i mean, just, you know, the whole heist thing. all right, let's do this. all right? before my wife changes her mind. go. [ male announcer ] movies right when you want them. watch unlimited movies instantly all for only 9 bucks a month from netflix. so i got my nephew to build a website. i hired someone to make my website... five months ago. we are building a website by ourselves. announcer: there's an easier way. create your own small-business site with intuit websites. just choose a style that fits your business and customize, publish and get found in three easy steps. sweet. all from just $4.99 a month, get a 30-day free trial at intuit.com. [ but aleve can last 12 hours. tylenol 8 hour lasts 8 hours. and aleve was proven to work better on pain than tylenol 8 hour.
so why am i still thinking about this? how are you? good, how are you? [ male announcer ] aleve. proven better on pain. ♪ [ female announcer ] we've got stains, down to a science. new wisk, with our breakthrough stain spectrum technology targets all the major stain groups like proteins, carbohydrates and oils. its enzymes and cleaning agents tackle a full range of stains. you'll never look at stains the same way again. for a more powerful clean, try new wisk. fight stains with science. yeah, we'll have... i'll take a walmart gift card! so i can buy a bunch of stuff. dad, cool video games... from ea sports. yeah, yeah, a whole game room!!! honey...and... oh. and -- and a trip to the spa. [ male announcer ] monopoly at mcdonald's is back and it's easier to win than ever... with game pieces on your favorite food and over 200 million in cash and prizes, odds are one in four wins! i didn't know we ordered a ford shelby gt 500!
otter along the water preparing for takeoff. 19-year-old kevin o'keefe was in the prime seat right next to him, back in the cabingazed outw at the mostly clear sky. >> there wasn't a day that i gave any more thought to its risk than any other time i was ever up there. >> reporter: and after fishing and flying in alaska for 30 years, sean says he knows when conditions are dicey. >> there were times when i got on planes and thought to myself, what did we do that for? this was not one of them. it just didn't even dawn on me. >> reporter: on the right of the cabin behind kevin was 16-year-old corey tindal. her mother dana was in the next seat followed by the man sean calls his moan tore, ted stevens, sean's friend bill fip ipz was all the way in the back. on the left, willie philips was across the aisle from his dad. sean was sitting up past the door and another long-time
friend jim morehard was heroin the pilot, terry smith. there was quiet anticipation. >> everybody just zoned out for a few minutes. waiting to grabt poles. >> at 2:45 p.m., 15 minutes into the 25-minute flight, the cabin was quiet. it was all so uneventful. and then? >> with no notice, absolutely no change in altitude, no evasive maneuvers, no nothing, no turbulence, it just -- impact. it was just like that. >> reporter: just like that, in the air one minute, slamming into a mountain side the next. tearing through the scrub brush with such force the plane
skidded 150 feet up a hill. flying along and stopped. that's it? >> that's it. i mean it came to a very massive stop, just like that. and no other motion at all. >> sounds? >> next to nothing. >> reporter: sean blacked out but not for long. >> my first vivid memory was just being so stunned, you know, that this happened and looking around and realizing what a wreck this was. i spent the first few moments spitting out shards of teeth. it was surreal. just surreal. >> sean was stunned at what he was seeing. what were you seeing? >> the back of the airplane came forward. coolers, poles, you know,
people, everything. >> reporter: sean was buried in debris. he could barely see. something heavy was pinning him down. when did you realize that someone was on top of you? >> a few moments. you know, i couldn't see anything. >> reporter: it was jim morehard. sean couldn't tell if he was dead or alive. panic took over. where were they? was the plane about to burst into flames? and where was kevin? what did you tell yourself? >> i start thinking about priorities. the priorities are, find him. >> reporter: he had to find his son. and that meant moving jim. as he struggled to push him off, his friend came to. he's alive. he could at least move himself a little bit. he was pretty busted up. >> reporter: sean's barely conscious friend tumbled somewhere to the back of the wrecked plane. that's when the magnitude of the force set in. >> the entire aircraft had
changed. i mean rather than in orderly rows, you know, canvas seats were lined up on two sides, it was everything all shoved forward. i find myself still strapped in but the seat was no longer where it was supposed to be. >> reporter: so you're looking where you think your son is and he's not there? >> that's right. >> reporter: sean started shouting kevin's name but he couldn't get up to look around. >> everything from my knees down is pinned down. >> reporter: you couldn't move? >> no. the best i could do is move back and forth from my waist forward and back. >> reporter: the pain was agonizing. he had deep gashes on his head and he was sure bones in his trapped legs were broken. there was piercing pain in his hip and neck. he was having trouble breathing. sean could feel his body giving in. >> you know, the nifrt few minutes of something like this, you're not even cognizant of
what happened you to. you can't feel broken or beaten up or whatever. but the prospect of going into shock was very much looming. >> reporter: but he had to hold on. he had to know if his son was still alive. your son was your will at that moment to live? >> you bet. you bet. >> reporter: if he was gone -- >> i just couldn't even imagine surviving through this experience if he were not alive. >> reporter: coming up, hear the confusion the father finally glimpses his son. >> he was suspended from the overhead of the aircraft. he wasn't moving. >> reporter: was his boy still alive? when "dateline" continues. [ female announcer ] join yoplait in our commitment to fight breast cancer.
for every pink lid you send in, yoplait will donate 10 cents to susan g. komen for the cure. with your help, we've donated $25 million over 12 years. so let's continue to make a difference one lid at a time. toilet paper has to get you clean. period. it's not just about, you know... but it also has to keep your hands clean. toilet paper has to help keep me clean... while getting me clean. quilted northern soft & strong. now 50% stronger for a confident clean. so, get this -- kraft mac & cheese... but it's in a bag. and you bake it... in the oven. whatever happened to cheesasaurus rex? i love that guy. well, kraft corporation, i'm on to you --
and nearly a quarter of a million marylanders are looking for work. in addition, we face a national health care plan that will hurt small business and cost us jobs. so we have to ask, are you better off today than you were four years ago? we're heading in the wrong direction. we need strong leadership. say no to things we can't afford. fix our health care plan. and refuse to raise taxes. martin o'malley can't do it. i will.
>> it was as if there was a dark scar on the mountainside. the plane, with sean o'keefe, his son kevin, and seven others on board, crashed violently into the hills, plowing through brush and rocks before coming to a terrifying halt. but that was nothing compared to the scene inside the plane. amidst the twisted fuselage, there was horror and confusion. in the first awful minutes after impact, sean couldn't even find his son. and then, he looked up.
>> i realized he was right straight ahead of me, suspended from the overhead of the aircraft. >> the front of the cockpit had been torn away, the roof ripped open. kevin was still in his seat, his legs trapped by twisted metal. to his dad, it was as if he was hanging from the roof of the plane, attached by the harness that had strapped him into the seat next to the pilot. and there was something even more alarming. >> he wasn't movin'. >> reporter: he wasn't moving? >> i kept you know, shouting to him to see if he was alive. >> it was a living nightmare. sean was pinned down in a crashed plane. his son was just feet away, but there was no way to find out if he was dead or alive. and back east, his wife laura had no idea anything was wrong. she was in columbus ohio, attending a decorating convention. there had been cheerful email updates from sean and kevin all weekend, and as far as she knew, they were still contentedly reeling in fish. >> reporter: they're having a
fun time. and you are going off to have some fun of your own. >> i had no idea, none whatsoever. >> the folks back at the fishing lodge had no idea either. shortly after the otter took off, dani bowman and her husband had gone for a joyride in their own plane. >> we were out looking for sunshine and we flew within, i estimate, within 5 to 10 miles of where the other crash occurred. >> reporter: you flew within a few miles of the crash site and didn't realize it? >> yes, and we had no idea that they were there. >> it wasn't until 6:30 pm, more than three hours after the plane went down that dani even knew there might be a problem. she was back at the lodge, about to head in for dinner, when her husband's co-worker came running out. >> came bursting out of the main cabin, and stopped me and said "it looks like we may have a problem. it doesn't look like the other made it. >> if that plane was in trouble,
she had to be there. >> reporter: why did you jump into the job of trying to be the rescuer? >> because, when there's an aircraft accident in alaska, you hear that there's a plane down, and anyone who can get in the air, or who's already in the air, will respond. >> and this was personal. many of the passengers were long-time friends. the pilot, terry smith, was her neighbor. >> i regard him as the best pilot in the state. >> and dani is a doctor -- a pediatrician. so she frantically grabbed as many emergency supplies as she could and jumped back onto her husband's plane. >> we took off and we had in our gps the route that the otter always took when it left the lodge, over to the nushigak river. and we flew that route. >> she wasn't the only one scanning the skies. at 7:16 pm, the faa issued an alert for the missing aircraft, and the tight-knit community of
dillingham sprung into action. pilot john bouker had just dropped off some passengers in nearby manicotak. >> i had plenty of fuel. so i said, "i'll go look for him. i was gonna backtrack his path. >> it was now raining heavily, with strong winds, and rapidly descending clouds. this was not good flying weather. but just after 7:30pm, bouker yelled into his radio that he had found it. through the haze, he caught a glimpse of the dark red otter. >> i'd found the turbinador crashed at about the 1,000- foot level on the side of the mountain. in between a little break in the scuzz, the bad weather, you know? and told 'em where it was at. >> dani's worst fears were confirmed. the missing otter had gone down. and now she knew exactly where to find it. but even with a gps, it was almost impossible to spot. >> it was really well-hidden. the top of the hill was already in the clouds.
>> dani was anxious. she had no idea if anyone on that plane was still alive. and with nightfall approaching, if they didn't find it soon, any survivors on that plane could be doomed. inside the plane, sean o'keefe had no idea that dani was trying to find them. but he too feared time was running out. >> everything, anything i've ever known about accidents in these kind of wildnerness conditions up there, it's a lotta space to go lookin' for people. i mean, a lotta space. >> copping up, desperate minutes turn into hours, in cold rain and howling wind. the survivors exposed and helpless. you reached out to touch your son? >> yes. >> and you couldn't reach him? >> no. >> when "rescue on the mountainside" continues. i couldn't sleep right. next day it took forever to get going. night after night, i sat up. sprayed up. took a shower... or took a pill.
then i tried drug-free breathe right advanced. and instantly, i breathed better! i slept better. it felt...better. thank you, breathe right! [ male announcer ] breathe better, sleep better, feel better. now try new breathe right advanced for free... at breatheright.com. [ woman ] it's my right to breathe right. isn't it your right, too? they've been to every game for the last forty-four years. [ cook ] when i get that super bowl ticket in my hand, that's the moment that i start to feel, it's real, i'm going again. [ male announcer ] and now visa's giving you the chance to become a fan for life too. when you use your visa card, you could win a trip to the super bowl, every year, for the rest of your life. ♪ more fans go with visa. ♪ [ female announcer ] hurry in and load up on food and great savings during the petsmart treat your pet sale. right now, you'll find hundreds of ways to treat your pet for under $10, from toys, to treats and more.
at petsmart. we love to see healthy, happy pets! hi, trust fund baby, who's only here because of his dad. hi, nobody. i just stole this lunch from the freezer. hey, that's my healthy choice lemon herb chicken. i don't know whose it is, and i don't care. it's mine. i can tell by the clear tray. weird, that's exactly why i chose it. you can actually see what's in it. cherry tomatoes, green beans, and they are crisp. that's because of the steam. i hate how much you're loving that. i love how much you're hating this. you're a self-absorbed moron. [cell phone rings] hold that thought... go! a new honest to goodness lunch that's maybe too honest. all-new steamed lunches. the latest thing in lunch from healthy choice. ♪ [ guitar: power chord ] ♪ [ hard rock ] [ snarls ] ♪ [ continues ] [ thunderclap ] [ announcer ] the van beckons like no van before. the technology-packed, all-new honda odyssey. why go one more round ? you don't need a rematch, but a rethink. with lunesta. lunesta is thought to interact with gaba receptors
associated with sleep. lunesta helps you get the restful sleep you need. lunesta has some risk of dependency. when taking lunesta, don't drive or operate machinery until you feel fully awake. walking, eating, driving or engaging in other activities while asleep without remembering it the next day have been reported. abnormal behaviors may include aggressiveness, agitation, hallucinations, or confusion. in depressed patients, worsening of depression, including risk of suicide, may occur. alcohol may increase these risks. allergic reactions such as tongue or throat swelling occur rarely and may be fatal. side effects may include unpleasant taste, headache, dizziness, and morning drowsiness. stop fighting with your sleep. ask your doctor if lunesta is right for you. get lunesta for a co-pay as low as zero dollars at lunesta.com discover a restful lunesta night.
sean o'keefe was pinned to his seat. >> it was a jumble of emotions of anxiety, of confusion, of, you know, just trying to get the idea what the situation was around you. >> reporter: near feet if his, his son kevin seemed to be suspended in the cockpit above him and wasn't moving. >> he was just out of reach. i could have, you know, my arm was twice as long, i could have felt him. >> but you couldn't touch him. you reached out to touch your son? >> yes. >> and you couldn't? >> no, just that much further off. >> over and over sean shouted to his son. over and over he heard nothing. was he just unconscious or was it worse? >> seeing him in a slump condition, it was just -- i wasn't sure if either one of us were going to make it at that point. >> the pain from his injuries was so blinding, it was all sean could do not to close his eyes and give in. and there were sobering realities to comprehend. in the cockpit he could see that
pilot terry smith hadn't made it. behind him he could hear jim morehard who had landed right on top of him after the crash moaning as he drifted in and out of consciousness. how soon did you begin to understand who was dead and who was alive? >> some you identified right away. senator stevens was next to me. i felt the pulse. i realized that my friend had passed away. and others, we couldn't confirm where they were or hear from them, it was just a matter of trying to determine where people were and where they had been sitting. >> to some degree, you were waiting for people to gain consciousness. you don't know whether they have died or just unconscious. >> yes. >> jim morehard was clinging to life. but neither dani tindal or other 16-year-old daughter survived. neither did bill phillips. his 13-year-old son willie was
alive. >> the dawning realization of what had happened to friends that i've known for, you know, 30 years. and just in an instant they were gone was just overwhelming. and ted stevens was as close to a member of family i ever had. bill and i grew up together professionally. it reminds you how fragile life is. >> there is still no response from kevin. but then finally, after 15 endless minutes of calling his name, he heard it. his son's voice. kevin was alive. >> first words he said is what happened? i said we crashed. he said what are you talking about? i said, yes, we crashed. just could not believe this this had happened. >> i remember waking up confused what happened, why are we not fishing. >> did you hear your father calling your name? >> yes. he sounded, you know, concerned with my well-being. so i told him i was okay.
my dad assured me everything was going to be all right and that we would be just fine. >> for his dad, the relief was overwhelming. >> once i realized he was okay, alive and there was a sense of resolve. i'll make it through. this i don't care what it takes. i'm going to find the way to get through this because that's what he needs. >> there was a gaping gash on kevin's right leg that made it impossible for him to move. but he seemed completely numb to the pain. >> i guess i blocked out that just to get through the experience. >> did you even realize that your jaw was broken? >> not at all. >> willie was injured, too. his ankle was broken. but the physical pain was nothing compared to dealing with the terrible reality that his father had died in the crash. sean had to break the news. >> i said your dad is in a better place. he's okay. he's in a better place. for a 13-year-old, he
demonstrated a measure of courage, maturity that was just well beyond his years. >> suddenly, this burden fell to you, having two young men, 19 and 13. your job was to get them out alive. both of them. your son and bill's boy. >> in those hours, it was the most anxious period of time. if nobody finds us, we're dying of exposure was a looming possibility. >> they had to let someone know they were alive. willie, despite his broken ankle, was the only person still mobile. he bravely volunteered to get out of the plane to look around. >> we were hoping for something, satellite phone, a tranresponder, anything. >> willie found nothing. but the courage he showed in the face of so much gave them all more strength to hang on. >> he's a tough kid. you know, i guess he realized that, you know, that we needed
him. i feel like he put his emotions on hold and he manned up. >> at 13. >> at 13. that's right. i always forget that he's 13. >> with no way to communicate to the outside world, there was nothing to do but wait. for hours sean kept a constant role call going. >> you know, what are you doing? how you feeling? what's bothering you? >> you had these conversations? >> oh, yeah, nonstop. >> what you are saying to kevin? >> where's the pain? >> you're trying to keep him conscious? >> yeah. completely. >> what did you say to your dad? >> i just told him that the situation was bad but we would get through it. we kind of took turns acting as the cheerleader for the other one. >> but the four crash victims were in bad shape. and the weather was getting worse. how long could they all survive? coming up, the doctor who sounded like an angel and a scene that looked like hell on
earth. >> he said to me, am i going to die? >> how do you answer a question like that? >> not on my shift. >> when "dateline" continues. [ male announcer ] at pizza hut, everyone loved our $10 any pizza deal so we've made even bigger changes. we've lowered the price of every pizza on our menu. now a large pizza with up to three of your favorite toppings is just ten bucks. or any medium specialty pizza is just ten bucks, too. only at your pizza hut. or any medium specialty pizza is just ten bucks, too. ihola! come pina para un viaje de burro.
today, it's nearly double. and nearly a quarter of a million marylanders are looking for work. in addition, we face a national health care plan that will hurt small business and cost us jobs. so we have to ask, are you better off today than you were four years ago? we're heading in the wrong direction. we need strong leadership. say no to things we can't afford. fix our health care plan. and refuse to raise taxes. martin o'malley can't do it. i will.
it was almost 8:00 p.m., five hours since the plane crashed. night fall was approaching. the temperature was dropping. >> the only thing you could hear was rain coming down. and it was enough breaks and crevasses in the airplane and everything else that rain started coming in. and then starting to think about, okay, now we made it through this phase of it. but we may not make it through all of it because if anybody doesn't find us here pretty soon, the next stop is, you know, exposure to the elements. >> but soon there would be help and a familiar face. pediatrician dani bowman was in her husband's plane, anxiously trying to locate that red otter that had gone down in these hills. she had no idea if any of the nine people onboard were still
alive. then she noticed something light beneath the trees. >> as we flew over, i could see that there was a survivor outside waving his arms hoping that we would see him. >> someone was alive. his light colored shirt was like a beacon in the he has. >> what happened inside that plane? >> a lot of hollering. at that stage it went from despair and conviction that this might be the end of the hunt to elation was it's only a matter of time before somebody lands and figures out how to get you. >> what was that moment of elation? >> it was wonderful. it was relief. six hours roughly of hearing nothing but rain. and the sound of your own voice and the sound of everybody else's voice. >> they had been found. but their rescue was far from certain. this couldn't be a more imposing location. a hillside thick with twisted branches and massive rocks. >> i was in a fixed wing
aircraft. there was no way i could get there unless i found a helicopter. >> she called on tom tucker who was also searching for the missing plane. >> i saw the wreckage. i realized that it was a really, really big problem. >> landing his chopper would be a gamble. he landed as close as they could get, half a mile above the plane. they had to go the rest of the distance on foot, a dangerous, almost impossible rock. >> huge rocks the sides of volkswagens. you have to really see it to believe how treacherous that terrain is. it's just awful. >> there is a canopy that is eight to ten feet high. so when you're standing, you can't see anything. there is a lot of slippery mud. it's a steep slope. there were a lot of trips and falls and things going on. >> you needed your hands. >> you needed your hands. the things i had been carrying, i had to stash, hoping to get back to them later. >> it must have been really difficult to choose what to leave behind knowing that there were survivors down below who
might need some of these things to survive? >> a forced choice. >> it was 40 arduous minutes before they even got close. >> we could smell the aircraft well before you got to it. it was the fuel. >> but in the jungle of branches, dani still couldn't find the plane. then she heard someone calling. >> that's how we navigated the last two yards to the aircraft. >> it was a voice of 13-year-old willie phillips who was hobbling outside the wreckage on his broken ankle. it was his light colored shirt that guided dani to the site. he was the reason help had finally arrived. you heard their voices? >> oh, yeah. they were expressing a delight that there were people inside that were alive, too. >> it was after 9:00 p.m. the four survivors had been waiting more than six hours for this moment.
>> first thing sean said is oh, man, what took so you long? >> you represented life to them. >> that was very clear. >> to dani, the inside of the otter looked like a hellish war zone, a mess of mangled metal, bodies and death. >> it was brutal for these survivors. they were there in the plane with their friends who didn't survive. >> cautiously, she climbed over it all to assess their injuries. jim morehard who had been on top of sean for a short time after the crash was in terrible shape. >> he had internal bleeding. he said to me, am i going to die? >> how do you answer a question like that? >> not on my shift. we made a deal. everybody was surviving. >> willie was in the least trouble physically.
kevin was still trapped but stable. but sean, who had multiple fractures and a severely dislocated hip was in excruciating pain. >> a lot of moaning and crying out. and i can't imagine how difficult that would be for everyone to hear but especially kevin who is trapped a few feet from him but he can't get to him. >> you were worrying about him? >> yes. i didn't know how things were going to play out. >> still, sean wasn't about to give up. ever since those 15 harrowing minutes when he didn't know if kevin was even alive, he had focused only on his son. >> having the resolve to kind of stay awake, alert and conscious was driven by a desire to make sure he got out of this. >> that's a lot of love, sean. >> yeah. it was definitely that. >> the survivors now had some basic medical help. but they were still exposed to the cold alaskan night with no idea how long it would be before
the rescue choppered arrived to lift them out. as the hours ticked by, they sustained themselves with prayer. praying allowed or silently? >> very much allowed. >> allowed? >> all of us. >> together? >> yes. it was four catholic boys. >> this went on -- >> for several hours. >> was there strength you gained from the prayers? >> a combination of both reconciliation that if this was to be the conclusion and combined with the emotion of hopefulness, that that was in doubt. >> you were praying thinking you might die? >> uh-huh. >> thousands of miles away, laura o'keefe was soon praying as well. she woke to a call from alaska. >> it wasn't sean calling. it wasn't kevin calling. so i knew it was going to be very, very bad call. and they said that their plane
had crashed. it was possible that there were survivors but they hadn't been able to get to them yet. >> did you run the scenarios through your mind? >> of course. i had no choice. i might have been thinking what if sean survived and kevin didn't? what if kevin survived and sean didn't? >> i had to push those thoughts away because i was an inch from a complete and total meltdown. i needed to believe. and i did believe. >> by midnight, three volunteer emts made that grueling check down the mountain to join dani at the scene. >> i'm just thinking how did anybody survive? the first thing anybody asked was do you have medicine? and we just said. we have warm blankets. we have stuff for shelter. we're going to do what we can. >> the four survivors were now joined by four rescuers and even more help was on the way. military planes were expected any time.
but then you find out, they're not coming in a few minutes or even an hour. >> it was a letdown moment, that's for sure. >> kind of takes you back a notch when you're going to get us out of here. yeah, but we're not getting you out tonight. it's difficult thing. >> the weather was so bad, it was too dangerous to even attempt to land before day break. but that was still seven hours away. they were all in pain and needed strong medication. and then a stroke of luck as dani dumped out her backpack hoping to find tylenol, a box fell out. >> my mother died about a year ago. she always had me carry her migraine medicine. she had valium. and it was one of the ingraved pill case. i carried this thing around, you know, for who knows how long. it fell out. it is covered in mud. and so i looked inside and i said hey guys, we have good news here. and so we divided it up.
>> the medication you carried for your sick mom saved the day. >> somewhere, wherever she i know she is happy about this. yeah. they were cheering when i announced it. >> still, there were now eight of them on that isolated mountain. sean and kevin didn't even tell each other just how worried they were. >> they would ask about the other one. how is he doing? what do you think? is he going to survive? >> they both asked that you question? >> then the other would question. >> the quiet strength of a bond between a father and a son. >> the most important thing on that airplane for them, for their survival is that the two of them were there together. >> but would that bond help them get through the night? the wind was howling and on the angled slope, the plane's stability was in doubt. >> the whole plane would shake. is it moving or just moving in place? are we going to go sliding down
the hill any time? >> coming up, day break and finally help arrives. >> he says, hi, i'm here to help. >> the last dangerous journey to safety. and later in our second hour, stealing paradise. >> she was just so beautiful. >> they found each other and their own tropical island. >> it's like living in a postcard. >> a picture perfect life until she disappeared. >> and then you were calling? >> calling. texting. and we started wondering. >> why would she just leave? >> i called her best friend. did she meet somebody? does she have a man i don't know about? >> where would she go? >> she loved him. >> and why did someone new now own her slice of paradise? >> this guy fooled everybody. >> he got away with murder. >> he got away with murder.
[ female announcer ] imagine the possibilities with stelara® for adults. stelara® helps control moderate or severe plaque psoriasis with 4 doses a year, after 2 starter doses. in a medical study, 7 out of 10 stelara® patients saw at least 75% clearer skin at 12 weeks. and 6 out of 10 patients had their plaque psoriasis rated as cleared or minimal at 12 weeks. stelara® may lower your ability to fight infections and increase your risk of infections. some serious infections, like tuberculosis, require hospitalization. before starting stelara®, your doctor should test for tuberculosis. stelara® may increase your risk of cancer. always tell your doctor if you have any sign of infection, or have had cancer. alert your doctor of new or worsening problems including headaches, seizures, confusion and vision problems. these may be signs of a rare, potentially fatal condition affecting the brain. tell your doctor if you or anyone in your house needs or has recently received a vaccine. with 4 doses a year, after 2 starter doses it's stelara®.
♪ that's not really my style honey. weird, i can't find it. ♪ [ female announcer ] new tide with...acti-lift technology helps remove...many dry stains as if they were fresh. hey! you found it. yeah, it must have been hiding in my closet. [ female announcer ] new tide with acti-lift. style is an option. clean is not. get acti-lift in these tide detergents. into a bigger bag... into yet another bag. ♪ one bag is all you need. get glad forceflex, the bag that stretches to prevent rips and tears. ♪ she washes the trash before it goes into the trash. ♪ don't give trash the special treatment. get glad forceflex, the bag that stretches to prevent rips and tears.
called the humana walmart- preferred prescription plan. it's a medicare prescription drug plan that saves you an average of over $450 a year, with monthly plan premiums less than $15 and copays as low as $2. with savings like these, you have more time to remember what it's really all about. enroll starting november 15. ♪ go to walmart.com for details.
fuselage of a frigid plane -- waiting for daybreak and rescue choppers to lift them out. stranded, along with four volunteers, including dr. dani bowman, who could only offer them blankets and a handful of pills to ward off their pain. >> it was a long night >> reporter: you've described it now as hell and a war zone. >> it was really brutal for me not to have more equipment. >> reporter: you were afraid? >> i was afraid that someone would decompensate and die, yeah. i think they were afraid that morning might never come. >> reporter: it had been 12 long hours since the crash -- yet even in the bleakest hours, they found levity. i understand you're a really good singer. >> no. i'm probably the only individual with an irish descent, who
cannot carry a note in a bag. by the end of the evening, i was demonstrating why that was true. >> reporter: and i'm told that somebody actually asked you to stop? >> yes. several times. [ laughter ] >> reporter: your father apologized to you, while you were in the plane. he said, "i'm sorry." >> yes, ma'am. >> reporter: he thinks around ten times. >> yeah, i remember it a few times. >> so what did you say to him to make him feel better about it? >> "it's okay, we went fishing. and i got to have a cigar." [ laughter ] >> reporter: it was a fishing trip gone so horribly wrong. but the maturity of both kevin and 13-year-old willy, who was wrestling with the loss of his own father, astounded everyone. >> the teenagers on the plane were always sending me back to take care of sean and jim, because they were more seriously injured. >> reporter: so you saw a level of altruism in these very young people? >> yeah. by 6:40 am tuesday, when a misty sunrise brought some light to the mountainside, everyone's resolve was wearing thin. it was hour sixteen for the
survivors. then -- the whir of a helicopter. even the rescuers were ecstatic. >> everyone was cheering. >> i was like, never so happy to see anybody in my whole life. >> reporter: from his exposed seat in the cockpit, kevin had the best view of the helicopter overhead. >> i was kinda wondering how they were gonna get us out, because we were in rough shape. by then, sean's condition was dire. on top of everything else, he now had pneumonia. >> the pneumonia, all that stuff, started settling in. it was pretty rough. >> reporter: how much of a struggle was it for you to just breathe? >> towards the end it was pretty hard. >> reporter: and getting them all out wouldn't be easy. there was plenty of manpower - both the alaska air national guard and the coast guard had
arrived -- but the weather was still rough. less than a quarter mile of visibility, with dense clouds hanging just feet above the crashed plane. >> they had to fly into the clouds, and then they inched their way along the mountain, and i mean inched. >> you could not see the undercarriage of the helicopter itself. it was that thick. >> reporter: but then -- silhouettes. someone dropping through those clouds. >> and then the pararescue jumpers burst out of this fog and sunlight. he leans up to the plane and looks at me and says "hi, i'm here to help." [ laughter ] >> i saw the basket -- [ laugh ] -- come down. it was relief. >> reporter: it looked like it was coming from heaven. >> uh-huh. you got that right. >> reporter: it was a slow process. rescuers used tools to slice the plane open and lift the injured survivors out. first jim, then sean was the
seconto go. >> soon as i got on that basket, to be lifted into the helicopter, that's when i finally said, "is it safe to pass out?" and i did. >> reporter: by 10:00 am, 19 hours after the crash, the survivors were all on their way to a hospital in anchorage. before she left, dr. dani bowman spent time in the eerily silent wreckage with the five who didn't make it. this was so deeply personal. ted stevens and dana tindall were dear friends. there was dana's daughter corey, only 16. bill phillips, willy's dad. and her much loved neighbor, pilot terry smith. >> family members -- they should be able to be there at the moment of death, so i knew that they would have questions for me and i needed to have some answers. >> reporter: where they were? >> yeah. >> reporter: how they died? >> yes. >> reporter: did they have a chance? did they suffer? >> right. >> reporter: there would be so much healing ahead.
the national transportation safety board has yet to determine the cause of the crash, but for the survivors and rescuers who lived through that grueling night on the mountain, there is so much else to try to understand. >> reporter: the fact that you as a doctor were one of the first people to learn of this crash. >> i feel lucky to have been there. >> reporter: you feel lucky to have been there? >> yeah. it was real. it was all brutally real. but not all bad. >> reporter: so what's the good? >> the fact that we have four survivors who are gonna be completely whole. >> reporter: jim morhard and willy phillips are out of the hospital, spending time with their families. sean o'keefe's recovery has been trying. he's still in rehab, wearing a brace for his fractured neck, and a special boot on his broken ankle. but this week, just two months after the plane crash, he returned to work. [ applause ] >> you are looking at the luckiest guy you've ever met.
>> reporter: and incredibly, though he's had surgery on his leg and broke his jaw in two places, kevin is already back at syracuse univeristy, where he is a sophomore. laura calls it nothing short of miraculous. >> i believe it's two miracles. no question. for father and son, who's ordeal began as a fishing trip, a chance for them to bond in the alaskan wildnerness, the lessons are all about priorities. what's changed between the two of you? >> i guess all the things that we like to do, you know, we're gonna try to do more. definitely like to see him more, 'cause i, you know, don't get to see him as much as i'd like to. >> reporter: so it's really taught you about the value of being with each other more? >> most definitely, yeah. >> i'm absolutely certain that my resolve would have been totally different had kevin not been there or not survived it. that combination made a very powerful difference. and that told me a lot about
what my priorities are. no doubt about it. >> reporter: we have to rise up to be parents of our children. >> uh-huh. >> reporter: it appears from what you've described, and what he's described, that you rose up in a way that you've never had to -- to be his father. [ sigh ] >> maybe an instinct that god puts in all of us. and it's only questioned when it's tapped. >> our next story takes us thousands of miles south to the warm waters of a tropical hideaway where a group of adventurous americans thought they stumbled into paradise. sunshine, relaxed lifestyle, the kind of place where people didn't ask a lot of questions about their neighbors. until some of those neighbors started to disappear. here's kate snow. >> it's a dream that seemed so out of reach, quit the rat race, move to an exotic land and buy your very own private island.
>> she wanted to travel. she wanted to see the world. >> sarah hughes had the dream and she made it come true in the most unlikely place, the tiny far away island of boca del 2 toro panama. >> she would take a picture of the sunset and mail it to me. >> life was beautiful and simple. and an escape from the pressures of modern living. who could have known that evil could find a place in paradise, too? that beneath all that beauty was a dark secret. >> it still seems very unreal. i don't want to believe it. >> this is a really, really bad guy. >> it just sent chills down my spine. >> before the nightmare, came the dream. this is where people come to escape, a group of islands off
panama and way off the beaten path, it's a place where things move more slowly and life is supposed to be easy. cher first visited the islands in 2000 fosh the outdoorsy cher, it was love at first sight. what's more, it was affordable for the same money cher had been saving up to sail aren't world, she bought her little piece of paradise, a small house and that tiny round island. >> we saw that lump in the water and we said that's our it. that will be our spot for the rest of our lives. >> cher and keith met seven years before that when the vivacious blonde walked into a little bar keith owned in florida. >> came in and those big blue eyes and big smile. i was hooked. she was just so beautiful. >> cher grew up in st. louis where her all american good looks got her into modelling as a teenager. >> she would walk in a room and,
beep, everybody knew she was there. she was always happy. she always had a smile for everybody. >> eventually, cher moved to florida where her sister judy says she became a savvy businesswoman, running her own neon sign company. >> she would always make sure she had that income. she made sure she was setting herself up for what exactly what she wanted to do was retire and travel around the world. >> cher did travel but mostly in the u.s. then a friend invited her to visit exotic boca del lchll tor >> it decided to live there in seven days. the people here were phenomenal. children love panama and kids. >> xeej a carpenter. he built their dream home, a collection of shiny building on top of their lush green island. cher planted a tropical garden and adopted lots of animals including a pet monkey and a beautiful brown doeberman
pincher named jack. he adored cher and followed her wherever she went. she loved the local school kids, planned movie nights with popcorn and celebrated the holidays with enthusiasm even though her friend sean trainer says kids didn't always get the significance. >> she would do the easter egg hunt for all the kids. they had no idea what this crazy white woman was doing. coloring eggs. and then hiding them around on the island. they never participate in anything like that before. >> keith and cher's relationship blossomed on the island. in 2005, they married in front of their many friends in the close community. >> it's a small place. you go to the grocery store and, you know, you run into people you know. >> christen roberts who moved to boca from norway became part of cher's group of friends. >> we treated each other like family. we take care of each other. >> everyone went by their first names or nicknames. keith and cher were known as ken
and barbie. the man who owned one of the local watering holes, another american, was known as wild bill, viking hat and all. bill and his wife jane opened a bar on their secluded property pro, accessible only by boat where the people gathered for drinks. >> welcome. >> bill had these saturday parties at his place at the bar and restaurant once or twice a month. >> there is everybody there. >> it was cher's tropical dream come true. a beautiful backdrop for family reunions like the time her aunt mary came to visit. >> her grandmother, my mother, and i came down and visited and got the tour and they met us at the airport with a big bouquet of flowers. and it was just wonderful. >> last may there was another big trip in the works, cher's sister judy was planning to visit for the very first time. >> she wanted to show you her
paradise? >> oh, yeah. >> the trip would be a good distraction for cher. her life had recently turned up side down. her five-year marriage to keith hit a rough spot. he even moved out. >> when keith had moved off the island, she was pretty devastated. but then again, i also thought who's marriage is perfect and hopefully they'll work it out. i know they still loved each other. >> the sisters were excited about the trip. plans were in full swing. >> and then what happened? >> then i don't hear from her. >> one day passed, then another, and still nothing. >> too much time has gone by. and now i know something's happened. >> judy was worried and cher was gone. coming up, maybe this solved the mystery, a text message from cher to keith with some bad news. >> she just said i met somebody else who is better than you. >> and she was running away with that person? >> yes. >> but who was this new mystery
man? and where was cher? when "stealing paradise" continues. [ coughing ] [ breathes deeply, wind blows ] ♪ something wrong with your squeegee, kid? uh, i'm a little sick. sick?! you gonna let a sore throat beat you? you're fearless! this building is tough, but it's never seen the likes of you before. are you going to be a champ or a chump? a champ! show me! ahhhhhhhhh! atta boy! ahhhhhhhhh! [ male announcer ] halls. a pep talk in every drop. with triple soothing action. [ bell dings ]
with triple soothing action. bob ehrlich is desperate, and he'll say anything to get elected. negative attacks the media have repeatedly called "dishonest" and "total malarkey." and why can't we trust bob ehrlich? because he raised taxes and fees by $3 billion then denied it... because he says he's for us, but made $2.5 million at a special interest lobbying firm.
and ehrlich says he'll cut education again if elected governor. bob ehrlich-- a career politician we really can't trust. >> reporter: on the exotic coast of panama, cher hughes had been living out the dream of owning her own island. but then last spring, she vanished. >> i imagine you were calling? >> calling. >> leaving messages? >> texting, facebooking. and then i started reading her facebook. and it's, like, "cher, where are you?" people who were in panama, in bocas, "haven't seen you around town, where you at, gimme a call." and we started wondering. >> reporter: when cher's husband keith realized she'd left town, he was surprised. but he thought he might know why. cher had been talking about spending time in panama city.
a place where she could blend into the scenery more easily, and wrap her head around their breakup. >> she told me she wanted to have an apartment in panama city and just spend some time in the city and get outta bocas. cause it was such a small community and -- >> she was getting a little tired of it? >> yeah, you just keep bumping into the same people, having to tell the same story. and she was just ready for a little break of bocas. >> it's not unusual for people to come and go around here. after all, the easy-going lifestyle is part of the island's charm. but cher's friends and family said it wouldn't be like her to leave so abruptly. leave her cherished island with all of her belongings still here. >> reporter: cher's aunt mary started phoning cher's friends in panama. >> we immediately started calling her friends and everyone going, "what's going on?" and everyone was saying "you know cher. she might've just gone -- for a week. and you know, lost her phone, and we're like, "well, ok, maybe." >> reporter: mary logged on to cher's facebook page and reached out to those friends. >> "where's cher?" and they're goin', "i don't know. but we're mad at her, too. doggone it, we -- she -- she
always calls me. she calls me every day. what -- where did she go? how -- why would she not call me?" and we got a little aggravated with her. like, dangit cher, what are you doin'? >> reporter: and then some good news. cher's friends received a text message from her -- saying she'd gone sailing. >> she's a free spirit, right? she's-- >> oh. >> adventurous. >> she had an opportunity, she'd-- she'd go. you know. >> so, maybe -- >> but -- >> she just got on a boat with some new friend that you didn't know about and she'd be back in a week. >> right, yeah. >> it wouldn't have surprised me that, "oh mary, i went sailing and then my phone fell off the deck when i dropped my purse." that would be cher -- for three to four days. >> reporter: the messages were reassuring, but not for long. a few days passed, and cher didn't return. then another text message -- this one from cher to keith. >> she just said i met somebody else who's better than you, yeah. >> she said she had met someone else? >> yes. >> and she was running away with that person? >> yeah. >> reporter: a mystery man? keith wanted to get to the bottom of it. >> i called her best friend, and
said "did cher meet somebody? does she have a man that i don't know about? is there something going on?" she said "she's never mentioned any guy to me ever. she's waiting for you. there's no man in her life. she didn't run away."' >> reporter: but keith noticed something strange about the messages. they weren't written in cher's usual style. >> instead of small letters, it'd be all capitals. and she'd always write a-r-e, and this would be an r for "are" or "2," the number, would be there rather than t-o. so, it was just -- i said it was just -- it just changed. >> reporter: and then, the text messages simply stopped. cher's aunt mary called the us embassy in panama, and begged for help. >> the embassy -- made a big point of saying people disappear all the time. and if she wants to be found, she will contact you. and so i had a hard time shouting into the darkness of the embassy saying "help me, help me." >> reporter: things got worse. cher didn't call her father on his birthday. it was a huge alarm bell. >> i knew how she felt about her dad. and she would never, ever miss
his birthday. so something had happened to cher, for sure. in my heart, i knew then. >> reporter: after two months, it was staring everyone in the face -- the unanswered phone calls, the strange messages, the missed birthday -- all the clues pointing to a horrible conclusion. >> did you start to panic? >> yeah. i knew something was wrong. the whole family started to panic. >> reporter: the terrible realization sank in -- cher hadn't gone off sailing, or run away with a mystery man. she wasn't hiding out in apartment in panama city. something had happened to her. friends in bocas wracked their brains for answers, and they started thinking about another american from their group who'd also left abruptly. had anyone heard from him? what if cher wasn't the only person missing -- what if there were two? >> i just woke up one morning. just like one of those weird things. and i just knew. coming up, another american who apparently just walked away
leaving his home and a lot of questions behind. >> just gave me a really weird vibe. we're cracking down on medicare fraud. the new healthcare law gives us powerful new tools to fight it.... to investigate it... prosecute it... and stop criminals. our senior medicare patrol volunteers... are teaching seniors across the country... ...to stop, spot, and report fraud. you can help. guard your medicare card. don't give out your card number over the phone. call to report any suspected fraud. we're cracking down on medicare fraud. let's make medicare stronger for all of us. we're cracking down on medicare fraud. do you often experience the feeling of a dry mouth? it can be the side effect of many medications. dry mouth can be frustrating... and ignoring it can lead to... sipping water can help, but dentists recommend biotene. biotene moisturizes and helps supplement some of saliva's enzymes, providing soothing relief when you need it most. don't ignore dry mouth.
look for biotene in your oral care section today. this has been medifacts for biotene. if you're taking an antidepressant and still feel depressed, one option your doctor may consider is adding abilify. abilify treats depression in adults when added to an antidepressant. some people had symptom improvement in as early as one to two weeks after adding abilify. now with the abilify (me+) program, your first two weeks of abilify can be free. abilify is not for everyone. call your doctor if your depression worsens or you have unusual changes in behavior, or thoughts of suicide. antidepressants can increase these in children, teens and young adults. elderly dementia patients taking abilify have an increased risk of death or stroke.
call your doctor if you have high fever, stiff muscles and confusion to address a possible life-threatening condition. or if you have uncontrollable muscle movements, as these could become permanent. high blood sugar has been reported with abilify and medicines like it. in some cases, extreme high blood sugar can lead to coma or death. other risks include decreases in white blood cells, which can be serious, dizziness upon standing, seizures, trouble swallowing, and impaired judgment or motor skills. adding abilify has made a difference for me. [ male announcer ] visit abilifyoffer.com for your free trial offer. and ask your doctor about the risks and benefits of adding abilify.
introvert. he was a really great guy. >> beau kept a low prefile since moving to bocas from santa fe, new mexico in, # 004. the former antique dealer was so quiet that no one even noticed when he took off. >> a lot of people say, let's go to argentina for six weeks. they don't e-mail everybody and tell them we're leaving. that is easy to be not missed for a while. >> it made more sense when they found out that beau sold his home to wild bill, another american in their group famous for throwing lively parties many of the people attended including cher's friend kristen. >> i knew that they wanted to sell and move somewhere different. and so i assumed they sold and that beau had left. >> still, as keith thought back to the days after beau moved out, an image kept returning to his mind. an image of beau's house right after he left. >> i walked in and looked around. it looked as if beau had gone to the store, not moved out.
i went back and told my friends, i can't believe that house. it is really weird. talls on the back of the chair. his cane is next to the front door. there is dirty dishes in the sink. it's just weird. beau would just walk away. >> two americans missing. rumors began to swirl. could their disappearances be linked? >> the more you think about something like that, you know, it didn't add up. >> did it eat at you? >> yes, i kept thinking about it. because it wasn't right that cher would leave. i knew this girl would not leave town without saying good-bye and without a party. and beau could leave, but the two of them going together, i'm just like sending their belongings after the fact doesn't sound right. >> and then chris continue heard something that made the floor drop from under her, beau had abruptly stopped paying his bills, something totally unlike him. >> i just woke up one morning.
it's a weird thing. i just knew. i couldn't ignore it anymore. i just couldn't. somebody had to do something. >> she went to the police. did she immediately investigate some. >> no. they just put it in a file. and they go just yeah, yeah, yeah. people get lost in panama all the time. >> she reached out to someone she thought could help, another ex--pat, don winter, a man that runs a remember site for foreigners living in panama. >> i was contacted by one of her friends that was concerned that she was missing. and they asked for my help. >> don has lived in panama for 23 years and is our consultant on this story. he came here with u.s. military intelligence back when noriega was in power and never left. now he turns his attention to the two missing americans. >> i knew right off the bat, whoa, hey. what's going on here? and i knew that i had to apply a lot of time to it and a lot of attention to it. and i also knew that i had to get it right. >> with contacts in high places,
he knows the ins and outs of the panamanian system. he hopped on a flight to bocas and tapped into the coconut telegraph. what is the coconut telegraph? >> that's just the rumor mill. they call it the coconut telegraph. when something happens, word spreads quickly. >> and from what don was hearing, things just weren't adding up. he checked to see if beau and cher might have left the country. >> i knew that beau and cher, both of them, their passports had not gone through the airport. if you look at immigration movements, both of them you can track. could they come in and they leave. they come in and leave. they came in, they never left. all right. so they're still in panama somewhere. >> but where? there was one more piece of the puzzle falling into place and that would point a finger of suspicion at someone living right among them. a pirate out to make a killing in real estate.
>> he wasn't selling that place. she loved it. >> he showed up and said, yep, i bought everything. >> when "stealing paradise" continues. been found.. yet her s charged with her murder. .. at 11.. how the jury saw the case, and the verdict it reached ... plus.. the dangers of painkillers.. as our body ages... and all the candidates for anne arundel county executive weigh in on a new campaign ad.. that's causing quit an uproar. tom??? [ ehrlich ] four years ago unemployment in maryland was under four percent. today, it's nearly double.
and nearly a quarter of a million marylanders are looking for work. in addition, we face a national health care plan that will hurt small business and cost us jobs. so we have to ask, are you better off today than you were four years ago? we're heading in the wrong direction. we need strong leadership. say no to things we can't afford. fix our health care plan. and refuse to raise taxes. martin o'malley can't do it. i will.
mawomen are charged 40%o it. more for the same health insurance as men. domestic violence is treated as a pre-existing condition in eight states. women are abused by their husbands and then by their insurance companies. and last year they tried to end our coverage for mammograms and other preventive services. well i'm proud to say i got the law changed. i'm barbara mikulski. i approve this message so you'll know that being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition.
had personal belongings that were going to be sent to them. one-and-one is two. >> american beau islar was the first to leave last fall. at the time, no one thought it was unusual, especially when they learned he sold his house to someone else in the community, wild bill. >> bill had this persona of i've got buckets of cash, i can pay for it outright. >> the blogger don winter did digging. he pulled documents from the public registry and foind out that wild bill had actually bought more than just beau's home. >> bill cortez had taken over beau islar's company. and the company owned the property. so shortly after beau goes missing, bill cortez and his wife are now the president and secretary of this company. they own it. >> bill was in a hurry to get beau's house remodelled and flipped to a new owner. he even placed an ad in the local paper trying to sell it. in fact, wild bill seemed to be on a real estate buying and telling spree. he got his first property in
2007 from a family living on an estate close to cher's island, the browns, father, mother, and teenage son. now' quird beau's house as well it was bill's next purchase that grabbed everyone's attention. >> bill showed up and said, yep, i bought everything. >> everything? >> everything. >> meaning your rental properties, the house you built together, five buildings. >> yeah. >> this beautiful estate. >> exactly. >> bill said he bought cher's entire estate, even her beautiful island and that cher had simply taken off. >> my dogs were there. my tools were there. belongings were still on the island. where is cher? where is all that stuff? when she gets back, can you deal with that. that's between you and her. >> keith asked bill to bring his dogs and his stuff back. >> he placated he brought me one of my dogs. here's one dog. here is a table and two chairs. and here's a toolbox. i said that's a lot more missing here, bill. >> to keith, the whole story just didn't add up. >> she would have never sold the
island. >> did you have an interest in any of that property? >> we put everything in cher's name. >> she had the right to sell? >> absolutely. >> but you don't think she would have done that? >> i don't think so. it was never about the stuff or money. it was our home. we set it up to live there forever. >> it all sounded wrong to aunt mary as well. >> she wasn't selling that place. she loved it. she loved it. >> mary wanted answers. she picked you up the phone and called wild bill. and he told me, yeah, i got a great deal on cher's property. i bought everything at 50 cents on the dollar. i said i'd like to see that receipt. well, i signed a confidentiality statement. i said well i'll take a look at that. >> where did he tell you she had gone? >> he said i heard she got an apartment in panama city. >> i said so where is her stuff and snefrg he goes, oh, yeah, she got there and had me send her some jewelry and money air cargo. i said i'd like to see the
receipt on that. this girl is not going to have you looking through her drawers and her jewelry. >> and another curious thing was happening over at bill's place. no one could figure out why cher's devoted dog jack kept leaping off cher's island and swimming to bill's house over and over again. >> they kept going back to your old home and swim over. >> he would swim right back and stay right there. >> but for bill, it was business as usual. he even threw one of his famous parties at cher's place with all her things still there. it all seemed a little od to her friend shawn trainer who stopped by that night. >> it wasn't very well attended. >> why didn't people go? >> i just think that everybody had the same thing. it was kind of like really weird it was at cher's house. >> bill even made a toast at the party to friendship. >> and bill gave a speech? >> yeah. this really was something about having good friends. >> just like a heres to good friends? >> yeah, just like that.
>> wild bill was about an hour's boat ride from the main island. a big guy with a big personality. he was known for throwing parties at his place. and even in a place that is full of colorful characters, wild bill stood out. >> he was always the loudest voice in the room. he would text everybody and say, you know, your lord commands you to come to my party. >> your lord command you? >> yeah. he always talked to himself in the third party and a royal sense of some sort. you know, everyone took it as one of bill's quirks. >> another quirk? a pirate club bill created called the jolly roger social club. bill joked that only 90% of the members survive. >> welcome to the jolly club. 90% of our members survive. we hope very much that everybody is here and they live. but if they don't, well, then good riddance. >> by now, an uneasy feeling about wild bill was spreading and the rowdy party guy was suddenly lying low. >> every time i saw him, he was
in a hurry. he was trying to get it done and get out of. there he didn't want to answer a lot of questions. he was nervous. >> and with good reason. they tapped into the coconut telegraph, the more he became convinced that wild bill was the key to finding beau and cher. >> this was the common denominator between the two of them that this guy had apparent -- supposedly bought their property for cash and then both people disappear. >> flares went off in my head. they're missing. >> you remember that moment? >> it came over me like oh, my god, he could have done something to these people. >> coming up, the dark side of paradise. >> police went up with shovels and then they came down about two hours later and said we need you to come up and take a look. >> when "dateline" continues. in] kowalczyk. [ man ] emergency, kowalczyk. what is your emergency? the intern forgot the donuts for the status meeting. ♪ bingo. [ tires screech ]
♪ ♪ bang. [ male announcer ] that's right. we put a turbo in a sport cross. the all new nissan juke. innovation for success. innovation for all. innovation for success. [ man ] i love you guys. [ laughs ] i mean, just, you know, the whole heist thing. just putting jewels in teddy bears. this guy's wearing a wire the whole time. right? look at that! he's wearing a wire! [ laughs ] all right, let's do this. all right? before my wife changes her mind. go. [ male announcer ] your favorite movies right when you want them. watch unlimited tv episodes and movies instantly through your game console or other devices, all for only 9 bucks a month from netflix. whoops. no sequel for that guy.
this is chris. who has questions about which beverages might interact with his blood pressure medication. so he turns to the team of experts at walgreens.com's new pharmacy chat to get immediate answers. ♪ and now, thanks to the new pharmacy chat from walgreens.com, chris has everything he needs. except milk. expertise -- find it everywhere there's a walgreens and at walgreens.com. this chicken tortilla soup has such a wonderful zesty quality. that's the chipotle and cilantro. it's one of our new mexican soups. it reminds me of guadalajara. a special man. his delicious soups. sheila? [ male announcer ] progresso. you gotta taste this soup.
>> reporter: in the tiny ex-pat community of bocas del toro, all eyes were on one of their own -- wild bill cortez. in four month's time, he'd snapped up the homes of two people who'd mysteriously vanished -- bo icelar and cher hughes. now cher's husband keith was telling anyone who'd listen that the disappearances and property transfers were no coincidence. >> i right away thought that bill has done something. i was telling people in bocas, obviously, of the suspicions. and, in a small community, we're all saying the same thing. >> reporter: and bill's still
living nearby. >> and bill's still in the area. and he told people he was going to come and shut me up. >> reporter: he told people that? >> he told three or four people that. i moved out of my house and moved into a hotel that had security. >> reporter: keith wasn't the only one who was nervous. >> i got to the point where i became convinced that this guy cortez killed these people in order to steal their property. that's when i said i'm going to the authorities. >> he couraged keith to do the same. >> he said you need to get to the prosecutor and really turn up the heat. >> keith went to panama city and laid out the case against wild bill to the dij -- the panamanian fbi. >> from that point on, kudos to the panamanian police, they just stepped it up. but for all the suspicion, there was still no hard evidence of a crime. that's when don winner got an idea. he'd heard a lot of stories about wild bill and his ak-47 -- how he'd even fire it off sometimes to impress his friends. but in panama, it's illegal for
a civilian to own that type of weapon. so don made a suggestion to police. >> execute a search warrant on his house, find the ak-47, get him in custody. >> reporter: get him on possession of firearms? >> find the gun, lock him down. >> reporter: and then, figure out what role, if any, he might have had in the disappearance of two people. police drew up the warrant. on a steamy day in july, authorities descended on wild bill's home. bill and jane were nowhere to be found. police began the search. so police are looking around. they're here. they have a search warrant on this property looking for a gun." >> yeah. they're executing a search warrant for an ak-47. and when they got here, they encountered cher's dog. jack, the doberman who adored cher, was already at bill's place. no one knew exactly how he got there, but the dog was anxious, pacing nervously. >> jackie was really animated and agitated, and just kept circling and running up into the jungle. >> and the dog would come down
and like bark at the people that were doing the search, and run up the hill -- "follow me, guys" and the dog led them up there -- >> reporter: this hill right here?" >> right here. and went up into the back of the property. >> reporter: jack bounded up and down the hill, until police followed him. and there -- they found something shocking. a mound of disturbed dirt. they began to dig. cher's husband keith waited at the bottom of the hill. >> the police went up with shovels, and then they came down, about two hours later, and said, "we need you to come up and take a look. >> reporter: in a shallow grave -- hidden under a mound of garbage, the police made a horrible discovery -- the body of cher hughes. she had been shot once in the back of the head. i imagine that was one of the hardest days of your life. >> yeah. it sure is. i mean, no -- no one should ever see someone they cared about look like that. >> reporter: now, keith finally understood why jack kept swimming to bill's place. >> he'd swim that mile back and
just stay right there. he was staying true to mommy. >> reporter: back in the us, cher's sister judy learned the devastating news. >> i was in hysterics for hours. i just paced the floor and just kept saying, "no, no, no. it's not true. it's not." >> reporter: but the horror wasn't over. as police continued searching bill's property, they discovered another mound of disturbed dirt -- another shallow grave. and there, buried beneath more rubble, the body of bo icelar -- the other missing american. >> when they found the bodies, that's when//they realized that it's not just people with suspicions and making accusations. it's all -- it's really happening. >> reporter: keith watched as authorities raided bill's home. he says they found evidence of the ghastly crimes -- bo's id, cher's passport, her purse, and her cell phone, from which she'd allegedly sent those text messages, saying she'd simply gone for a sail. and there was more -- nazi memorabilia, strange satanic signs, jewelry that may have belonged to the victims. and the most gruesome discovery -- about a dozen gold teeth. >> he lived with these things. he lived with the corpses and people's personal effects around him. >> reporter: the ex-pats in
bocas were in turmoil. two of their friends were dead -- their bodies found in the backyard of a man they once trusted -- wild bill cortez. >> to know that he lived next to me for two and a half years, and i had him in my home. i invited him to dinner. we did the social neighbor thing with him. he shot my wife. it's just inconceivable. >> reporter: authorities launched a search for bill and his wife, who they also suspected was involved. but it was too late. they had already this is now a major manhunt. >> i knew he was probably out of the country already. that he was on the fly. so, the most important thing at that point was to get his picture out there on every television screen. on every nspaper cover. on every computer monitor, it's gotta get out there in a big way to get him caught. >> reporter: by then, wild bill and his wife jane were in costa rica. someone recognized them there, and contacted the police. as the search intensified, bill and jane made a desperate attempt to cross into nicaragua by boat. but they were stopped
by soldiers at a checkpoint. >> they got the drop on him with machine guns and basically said, "halt or die." and he stopped. he gave himself up. >> reporter: the end of the line. >> that was the first time he had ever had handcuffs on in his life. >> reporter: it was also the first time anyone on the island heard wild bill's real name -- >> my name is william dathan holbert >> reporter: fun loving bocas del toro bartender wild bill cortez was in fact, william dathan holbert -- a 30-year-old who'd been on the run from american authorities since 2006. as the islanders absorbed the headlines of a killer among them, they discovered that wild bill had a long and notorious past that stretched nearly 2,000 miles. from the white sand beaches of bocas del toro all the way to the blue ridge mountains of north carolina. that's where he grew up, going by his middle name -- dathan. he played high school football. married his sweetheart, had three kids, and worked as a landscaper. his old boss at a gym, kevin hoover, liked dathan -- until
dathan had an affair with one of his employees -- and hoover says, embezzled $25,000 from the gym's accounts. >> he had told me he had thought that was part of his -- his pay, his package. and i said, "no, dathan, it's not part of your package." >> reporter: and that was just the beginning. dathan left the job -- and his wife. he ran off with laura michele reese, who'd later be known as jane cortez in bocas. in 2005, police say dathan started in on his real estate scams. he sold a home that wasn't his for $200,000. police charged him with obtaining property under false pretenses. by the time the owner realized what had happened, dathan was on the run. that landed him on the television program "america's most wanted." >> cops in north carolina say his latest real estate con took a couple for $200,000. >> reporter: somewhere along the line, police say dathan sold a stolen car in montana, and when
cops pulled him over for speeding in wyoming, he took off, leading them on a high speed chase before escaping. it seems it was only after he moved to panama that dathan's scams took a sinister turn. >> the change was he killed people to get the documentation in order to take over the property. >> reporter: and not only was he stealing their property, he would steal everything in the house -- cars, boats, right down to the toothbrush and the underwear and their dogs. he took on their entire lives? >> yeah, right down to the change in their pocket. >> reporter: four years after fleeing from the states, wild bill was finally in police custody, charged with heinous crimes -- the murders of bo icelar and cher hughes. >> there are dozens, if not a hundred people in this town, in bocas, that all knew cher, that all knew bo, and they're all thinking, "wow, man, this guy fooled us all. he fooled everybody." >> reporter: he got away with murder. >> he got away with it for awhile. yeah. >> reporter: little did everyone know that wild bill had actually
gotten away with a lot more. coming up -- >> i never painted myself as a good guy. i'm getting what i deserve. >> a jail cell interview with wild bill. and coming up next friday on "dateline," the preacher's wife. they seemed to perfect, the handsome preacher and his beautiful wife until one fateful night he was shot in his sleep, she was charged with murder. >> look into those soft, sweet eyes and what do you see? >> i see a cold blooded killer. >> the crime caused a sensation, then so did the verdict. now she breaks her silence. >> what is in your heart at that very moment? >> what is in your heart at that very moment? >> i don't know.know and love i.
♪ it's time to play monopoly at mcdonald's. ♪ this year, 1 in 4 wins. ♪ peel for your chance at over $200 million in cash and prizes. ♪ monopoly at mcdonald's. the simple joy of winning. ♪ called the humana walmart- preferred prescription plan. it's a medicare prescription drug plan that saves you an average of over $450 a year, with monthly plan premiums less than $15 and copays as low as $2. with savings like these, you have more time to remember what it's really all about.
enroll starting november 15. ♪ go to walmart.com for details. ♪ i don'i heard thatd nearly 4 out 5 women aren't getting enough vitamin d. so i take one a day women's, a complete multivitamin with more vitamin d to support bone and breast health. [ female announcer ] one a day women's. you can take the heat. 'til it turns into heartburn, you've got what it takes: zantac. it's strong, fast lasting relief. so let them turn up the heat. you can stop that heartburn cold: (sssssssss!!!) zantac. ♪ i was young and i was stupid ♪ i had just turned 17 ♪ a harmonica and a box guitar ♪ ♪ in a canvas-covered wagon stuffed... ♪ [ male announcer ] while the world's been waiting on the electric car, maybe the whole time, the electric car has been waiting for this...
the wattstation from ge. it's going to change the way we get to where we all want to go. ♪ i didn't think much of it till i took it apart ♪ it will with natural instincts. it's clinically proven. 80% of women agreed that natural instincts made their hair feel softer. the ammonia-free antioxidant formula actually protects hair from dryness, leaving it softer and healthier looking. for natural looking color in 10 minutes, get your hands on natural instincts. it's all good. for a rich color experience, try natural instincts 10 rich color creme shades.
hughes and bo icelar had ended tragically. both were found dead, shot in the back of the head, and buried in shallow graves. after being caught at the nicaraguan border, wild bill and his wife emerged from the jungle in shackles, charged with the murders. bill's wife was subdued and denied any involvement.
bill, however, appeared surprisingly cheerful, saying he was happy to be back in panama. >> i'm happy to be in panama. i love panama. >> reporter: those first days when bill was brought back to panama, what was he like? >> he was making jokes, and he was laughing on it and he was really -- he wanted to -- people to see him. he was really trying to show off. >> reporter: national director of police gustavo perez interrogated wild bill and says he talked openly about the killings. bill admitted to shooting bo icelar on his boat. for cher, it started with a friendly dinner at bill's place. afterwards, bill took her outside to see some animals behind his house. when she turned to look at them, he shot her. did bill tell you why he murdered the people that he confessed to murdering? >> say money. he say, "i want to -- i wanted to have their things." >> reporter: but even the most hardened cops were shocked to hear what else bill had done.
wild bill drew a map of his home -- with x's marking where the bodies were buried. only there were more than 2 x's on bill's map. there were five. five victims. not just bo and cher, but three more people who'd died at the hands of wild bill. this time, it was a father, mother and their teenaged son -- the brown family. they were the original owners of bill's property, cher's neighbors. keith remembers when the browns suddenly moved out. he kept his personal things in his own house. we wanted to speak with bill so we reached out to his attorneys and about a month ago our phone rang. it was the lawyer with wild bill himself on the phone calling from his jail cell in panama. he already confessed to the murders. but he said he wanted to explain himself. >> i'm not denying criminal
activity. i'm only saying that what's been portrayed in the media as this crazy serial killer thing is completely untrue. i'm telling you that i am not a serial killer. i have never taken pleasure in harming another human being. the things i have done has caused me nightmares. >> you also have to understand that the victims of these crimes, their families are -- they say you had parties at their homes. how can you possibly defend that action? >> defend it? i'm not trying to defend my actions. i'm a criminal. i'm a bad guy. i'm your worst nightmare. but what i'm also saying is that i didn't wake up one morning and decide to kill my neighbors. >> three weeks ago a very different looking wild bill gave an interview to a local tv station from his jail cell. his wild blond hair replaced by a brown buzz care. >> i did it. i'm guilty of it. i'm going to be punished for it. >> in cold and chilling detail, he recounts how he murdered the brown family.
>> i separated them. this is gruesome and i understand it's very -- but you're asking me and i'll answer your question, sir. i separated them. i asked mike brown to show me a well he dug in the back of the property. i took him there. and without him knowing what happened, i shot him from behind and killed him. >> holbert also admits to another victim, number six. a american ex-pat jeffrey kline. hole bert claims he died when the two got on a fight on a boat. too afraid to go to authorities, holbert came up with his own solution to get rid of the body. >> i took it home and buried it. and then i built a picnic area over it. it's horrible and stupid. but i never had been in that situation before. i didn't know what to do. >> in the interview, holbert confesses to it all, then offers up a convoluted explanation for why he did it. he says he acted on orders from other americans and claims there's a large crime ring running around bocas trading
arms, trafficking humans and ordering hits on people, including the browns. i never tried to paint myself as a good guy. i'm a bad guy. i'm getting what i deserve. but i'll be damned i should go down and everybody else shouldn't go down too. he names many names in the alleged crime syndicate. he even claims that cher's husband keith is the one who ordered cher's murder an allegation keith says is beyond ridiculous. and the prosecutor's office in panama says there is no evidence to back up any of bill's story. >> there is nothing i can say. i am sorry. but i can do nothing to bring those people back, especially cher hughes who is an innocent person. >> he says he is sorry for what he's done and does he shed tears. but not for the victims, for his wife, laura who he says is innocent. >> if she was sitting here, i would tell her i'm sorry she ever met me. because she didn't deserve this.
if i could give my life to set her free, i would. that's it. >> and the man who said he killed six people, now has time to sit in a cell and think about his own death. holbert and his wife have received threats in prison. >> there's a guard in this jail that brings me a cell phone and gives me death threats from these people. i'm a dead man. i don't even care. that is not even important. but my wife doesn't deserve this. >> have you talked to authorities about this? what are the options they have? >> options? what options? excuse me. give me a second. >> if convicted, he faces up to 50 years in a panamanian jail. >> this is a really, really bad guy. it doesn't get any worse than this kind of guy. he is like the worst of the worst. >> do you think the trail of bodies is longer than we even know? >> i have no doubt.