tv ABC World News ABC July 15, 2017 6:30pm-7:00pm EDT
tonight, the deadly high-rise inferno. the tragedy on the 26th floor. why the building had no sprinkler system. dangerous ground. two homes swallowed. authorities still keeping a close watch on this massive sinkhole. the biggest in nearly 30 years. out of control. dozens of wildfires burning in the west. the children trapped and the new video of their rescue. bailing out. the fighter pilot forced to eject during takeoff, flames surrounding his jet. and scamming grandma. cameras capturing the scam. >> i love you too, dear, what's the matter? >> callers pretending to be grandchildren needing money for an emergency. good evening. thanks for joining us on a saturday night. i'm tom llamas.
and we begin with that deadly high-rise fire in hawaii. flames shooting out of the windows of the 36-story apartment building in honolulu. the fire breaking out on the 26th floor. you can see it there, spreading to the floors directly above it. at least three people killed. about a dozen hurt. more than 100 firefighters on the scene, unable to use the elevators to reach that fire. and the fire chief revealing the building did not have a sprinkler system. abc's marci gonzalez starts us off. >> reporter: the flames tearing through the 26-floor of this high rise in honolulu and quickly spreading. >> that was like a horror movie. >> reporter: apartments engulfed. residents' chilling screams cutting through the roar of the inferno. >> i heard three women's voices screaming, pleading, moaning, please help me. >> reporter: those who could rushing out of the massive marco polo condominium complex.
firefighters telling residents to shelter in place. helping others through the. blinding suffocating smoke through safety. >> so many smokes. >> reporter: residents watching in disbelief from a distance. the thick plumes visible from miles. >> horrendous. there was flames shooting out and black smoke. >> reporter: a dozen people injured and at least three people killed, found in two different units on the 26th floor. this 54-year-old called co-workers, saying he was hiding under a bed, unable to get his 58-year-old mother. neither making it out alive. >> i drove down there and basically watched his floor be consumed. >> reporter: fire investigators at the scene tonight, still piecing together what caused the fire. but officials said what's clear is how much of this devastation was likely preventable. >> if there were sprinklers in
this apartment, the fire would have been contained to the origin. >> reporter: building codes didn't require sprinklers when it was built in 1971. >> how is it possible that a corporation doesn't install something as an inexpensive and as effective as sprinkler yeah, there's anger. >> reporter: there were no sprinklers in the apartment building in london where this fire tore through last month killing about 80 people. the mayor of honolulu said the fire there will likely force a change, saying lawmakers will look into requiring that older buildings be retrofitted with sprinklers. tom. next tonight, the families living on dangerous ground in florida. authorities keeping a close watch on that massive sinkhole destroying two homes and threatening the rest of the neighborhood. nearly a dozen families forced from their homes. abc's victor oquendo on the scene. >> reporter: tonight, all eyes
on this massive sinkhole. officials warning the threat is not over. the crater swallowing two homes, a swimming pool, and a boat, creating a disaster zone in the middle of a neighborhood. the ramirez family scrambling to safety, losing their home. >> it's emotional. i mean, what can you say? i mean, you wouldn't wish this on anyone, especially our neighbors. >> reporter: pasco county emergency officials taking us up to the very edge of the disaster area now filled with mud and toxic debris. >> there's a lot of hazardous material in here. there's fuels, there's septic tanks, there's household hazardous chemicals. >> reporter: this is the largest sinkhole to hit pasco county in at least three decades. as you take a look above from our drone, those neighbors who evacuated, they won't be able to return home for at least a week. today, neighbors escorted home by police to grab essential belongings. recalling seeing cracks forming in the street and hearing the houses give way. >> it's creaking, it's
splashing, you know, wood breaking, ripping, just sounds that are not normal. >> reporter: the gaping sinkhole is 225 feet wide and 50 feet deep, while unusually large sinkholes are a common problem in florida. they occur when limestone underground gets eaten away by water, creating a cave and the weight above becomes too heavy. >> and victor joins us live now. just steps from that sinkhole, victor, we heard from your report, beside the danger beneath, there's also a hazmat situation above the ground? >> reporter: tom, officials are calling this a hazmat situation that's just because there are household chemicals and septic tanks to consider and a lake that's about 200 feet away that none of this debris gets there. >> all right, victor, thanks so much. next tonight, president trump showing his growing frustration with the russia investigation, calling it a hoax. as new questions tonight about his son's changing story,
concerning the meeting with that russian attorney and the alleged former russian counterintelligence officer who was also there, what was said behind closed doors? here's abc's david wright. >> reporter: today, as some of the best golfers in the world played at his club here in new jersey, the president naturally had a prime seat. but trump won't get much of a break, from the mounting questions over russia. the main focus now, that meeting don junior had at trump tower last june with russian sources he was told were peddling "official documents and information that would incriminate hillary. part of russia and its government's support for mr. trump." just hours after the meeting was set up, candidate trump promised this on the campaign trail. >> i am going to give a major speech on, probably monday of next week, and we're going to be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the clintons. >> reporter: trump never gave
that speech. and says he knew nothing about the meeting, which also attended by trump's son-in-law jared kushner and campaign chair paul manafort. >> this is everything. >> reporter: but it turns out that wasn't everything. >> my son is a wonderful young man. he took a meeting with a russian lawyer. not a government lawyer, but a russian lawyer. >> reporter: we've since learned it wasn't just one russian lawyer he met with, natalia veselnitskaya. the meeting also included this man, renat akmehtshin, a russian-american lobbyist. once accused of being a soviet counterintelligence officer. but insisted to the associated press that he wasn't trained as a spy. we've also learned new details about veselnitskaya. days after that trump tower meeting, she turned up at a congressional hearing on russia. her front row seat, reserved for her by a republican consultant with close ties to the trump campaign. trump's florida campaign chair.
>> that's something our committee's going to want to find out. exactly who was in that meeting, >> reporter: all this raises some red flags for investigators looking into russian meddling and possible collusion by the trump campaign. >> the problem with this is we have seen changing narratives. >> and david wright joins us live from bedminister where the president is tonight. i understand we have new reporting just in on don junior, his legal defense and how it may be connected to president trump's re-election campaign? >> that's right, tom, this has to do with don junior's lawyer, fcc filings released today show that just two weeks before don junior released that cache of e-mails, the re-election campaign paid the lawyer $50,000. it's hard to assess at this point the significance of that. >> david, thank you. we move now on to the fire danger in the west. dozens of large wildfires
burning out of control. the whittier fire growing out of control. destroying more than 17,000 acres. and tonight, severe storms threatening parts of the midwest. abc's rob marciano with those new images. >> reporter: tonight, a wall of flames reaching for the sky as dozen of large wildfires torch the west. >> we're always concerned when there's a fire in our backyard. >> reporter: this inferno swallowing this hillside in santa barbara county. incinerating an area larger than manhattan. newly released dash cam video shows first responders driving through the flames to rescue 83 campers at a summer camp last saturday. the girls all bussed to safety. carrie sawyer is among thousands of evacuees who could everything. >> i don't know if it's going to be here when i get back. >> reporter: the fire growing 4,000 acres overnight, as fire crews lose containment. meanwhile, more than 500 firefighters battle on the front lines in san bernardino. flames racing across hilltops
there. this, after a severe storm tears through oklahoma city. >> oh, my god. >> reporter: and this tornado dropping down near houston. watch as this waterspout tears across chesapeake bay. >> a wild sight there in the mid-atlantic. right to rob with the new forecast. >> an expansive area of thunderstorms. the front that came through the northeast last night, has stalled across the mid south. south of that, lot of humid air. very heavy rain with this. the other area of disturbance, across wisconsin. potentially severe there. out west, fire weather alerts. the heat is building. especially in california. tomorrow, triple-digit heat in some of those areas that have those wildfires. >> all right, rob, thank you. new developments tonight in that mystery off sea in florida. court records showing that a newlywed husband asked authorities to declare his wife presumed dead days after she went missing. here's abc's stephanie ramos. >> reporter: tonight, a new development in a florida mom
missing at sea. a new request from the husband asking that his wife be presumed dead. this all began in the early morning of may 15th. the newlyweds, on a catamaran. off the coast of the bahamas. bennett told investigators he was asleep below deck when their boat hit something and started sinking. his wife of three months, and mother of their baby girl, gone. bennett, rescued in a life raft. >> the family is destroyed. the family is extremely hurt. >> reporter: the four-day search to find hellmann called off may 18th. court documents detailing the very next day, may 19th, the coast guard writes to bennett, acknowledging his request for a letter of presumed death. >> all bad for him and the spotlight that's on him even becomes brighter when you add this letter to it. >> reporter: in a previous
interview with "the daily mail," bennett said he loved his wife. and has nothing to hide. the fbi hasn't named as a suspect. we were unable to reach his attorney for comment. >> stephanie, thank you. next, new developments in the brutal murders of four young men outside of philadelphia. cosmo dinardo charged in the death of all four victims. his cousin, sean kratz also charged in three of the alleged murders. abc's eva pilgrim is in pennsylvania. >> reporter: tonight, we're learning more about one of the two men behind bars, charged in the gruesome murders of four pennsylvanian men. authorities say cosmo confessed to the slaying, saying his cousin sean kratz helped. dean finocchiaro, thomas meo, mark sturgis and gymi patrick were missing for over a week. >> we're here to seek justice for them. and that's our commitment. >> reporter: authorities say cosmo admitted to murdering patrick on july 5th and told
investigators he and kratz killed the three, saying he lured the men to the farm with the idea of buying marijuana. the case disturbing neighbors in this philadelphia neighborhood where kratz used to hang out. >> people used to view him troubling and a menace. >> reporter: they watched as kratz's crimes escalated over time. >> you should have some relief that this kid will no longer be around. but i don't think it was fair at the expense of these four young men who lost their lives. >> reporter: prosecutors say they don't know a motive and maybe never know one. the court entering a not guilty plea for both men. they're due back in court on both charges at the end of the month. >> eva, thank you. now to the danger on america's highways. take a look at this, a driver in florida surviving after his minivan was crushed by a huge piece of metal falling from a truck on the overpass. here's abc's kennett moton. >> reporter: tonight, a freak accident on the highway. a florida man miraculously
surviving after his minivan is crushed. >> caller states truck flipped over and there's smashed metal into the vehicle. >> reporter: the jaw-dropping image, a large metal pipe soaring through the air, crashing right onto jesus escobar's vehicle in orlando. highway patrol says the debris came from above after a truck hauling scrap metal lipped on the overpass. escobar, a husband and father of three, escaping with his life. you can see others tending to his injuries on the side of the road. he'll be okay. >> there it goes. >> reporter: the roadway dangers, all too common. a wooden plank, a potentially deadly projectile. a steel plate from a railroad bridge hit a missouri woman's car in june, her 12-week-old baby in the backseat. >> it was right above my daughter's car seat. i was freaking out. >> reporter: 200,000 road crashes involved debris between 2011 and 2014. 39,000 people injured, 500 died. safety officials warning drivers
to stay alert, don't tailgate and if you see debris coming, try to slow down, don't swerve at a high rate of speed. tom? >> incredible that driver survived. all right, kenneth, thank you. and there's still much more ahead on "world news tonight" this saturday -- a fighter jet on fire. take a look. could the pilot escape? plus, cameras rolling as scammers target a grandmother. but she turned the tables on them. watch and learn what you should do if you get a similar call. stop that train! >> and we'll take you inside this dramatic moment as a train begins to drag a car with people inside. could police stop a train in time to save them? stay with us. when you're close to the people you love, does psoriasis ever get in the way of a touching moment? if you have moderate to severe psoriasis, you can embrace
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again. >> reporter: helene taylor was getting fraudulent phone calls. she called her local tv station for help. while cameras were there, she received another call from a man claiming to be her oldest grandson. at first she plays along. >> i love you too, dear, what's the matter? >> reporter: the caller says he was in a car accident, and that his lawyer would be in touch soon. and just like clockwork -- >> that's that man who might be the lawyer. i'm not really sure what you want me to do. >> he needs a bail bond. bail was set at $2,500. >> reporter: a demand for $2,500 to bail her grandson out of jail. in the end, helene lets them know she's not falling for it. >> you know this is a scam, don't you? i said good-bye. >> reporter: in 2015, the ftc received over 10,000 "family/friend imposter" fraud complaints. it's impossible to know how many more didn't notify authorities. experts say, if you ever get a call from someone claiming to be
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was in despite need of a new kidney. on independence day he finally got the call. >> she said the kidney is four hours away, you need to get here. >> reporter: he did. after a successful kidney transplant, ernest walker was re-born on the fourth of july. >> i feel worthy. i feel, almost, like a whole man again. >> reporter: his only regret, making his doc work the holiday. >> he was very apologetic about making me do this on the fourth of july. >> reporter: walker said six weeks for his recovery. debbie, a register nurse, disagrees. >> i'm looking at nine. yeah. >> reporter: they are together on the gratitude to the donor who they will never know. but through walker will touch so many. >> i have a responsibility. someone died for me to have this new lease on life. >> reporter: gloria riviera, abc news. >> re-born on the fourth of july. we thank gloria for that story. we thank you for watching. see you tomorrow night.