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tv   Caught on Camera  MSNBC  January 18, 2015 1:00pm-2:01pm PST

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people come interview me or people want to use my video. and i get so scared. people watch and it makes them happy, that's awesome. this cheek is killing me. damage on a massive scale. huge structures reduced to rubble in seconds. crashing to the ground. >> i've never seen anything like this before. it's terrifying. >> trains demolish trucks in their path. >> i was stunned. i thought, what is he doing? don't take a chance like that. >> houses crumble. >> i had never seen anything like that before. >> wow.
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>> a factory erupts. >> wow! >> it looks like some kind of a nuclear detonation. >> and fire rains down from the sky. stories of chaos, survival, and courage. "caught on camera: total destruction." >> oh! >> that's going to be loud. >> a fire at a rocket fuel plant creates an explosion and schockwave. minutes later, there's an even bigger explosion. >> wow! >> it was the biggest explosion that i've ever been on in my life.
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>> may 4th, 1988, henderson, nevada, just ten miles from the las vegas strip. dennis todd is doing routine repair work on a tv transmission power on the top of black mountain when he notices an extremely bright fire down below. >> we looked down and saw this fire with this brilliance, like a fourth of july sparkler. unlike anything i've seen before. >> the fire is so bright because it's fueled by a highly volatile chemical used to make rocket fuel. todd grabs his video camera and begins recording. >> i set it on a tripod, pointed down at the fire, and went back to eating my lunch. >> the fire has broken out at the pacific engineering and production company, known as pep con with the chemical is
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fabricated. >> the solid rocket motors of the shuttles that take off are filled with ammonia perchlorate. pepcon employees knows just how explosive the chemical is, run for their lives. >> the employees know what is happening and they all took off. they self-evacuated across the desert. >> before firefighters arrive, there's a massive explosion. >> oh! >> that's going to be loud. >> i saw the explosion about five or six seconds before we actually heard it. up to this point, that was the biggest explosion i had ever seen. >> firefighters on the way to the scene are stopped in their tracks by the blast and back
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off. >> the fire chief was driving and got the window blown out. both groups of people were slightly injured. >> we could see the shockwave coming across the desert and we just ducked down, tried to get under the dash. but it was too low. the windshield came out and caught me in the forehead. >> others ten miles away in las vegas hear and feel the shockwave. >> we honestly thought that there had been an airplane crash or something like that. >> but the biggest blast is yet to come. several additional fire departments respond. >> we were en route to the disaster site. and as i started realizing the magnitude of the disaster that unfolded, the thought occurred to me that i could lose my life here today. >> the chemicals are not the only thing fueling the out of control fire. underneath the facility is a natural gas line that ruptures and ignites, making the blaze virtually unfightable. fire officials evacuate a five-mile radius around the plant. >> oh, there's another one.
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they had all of that fuel stored out there in barrels. >> and another one! >> geez! >> then the fire penetrates the main storage area of ammonia perchlorate and unleashes one of the largest explosions in american history. >> wow [ bleep ] loud! [ explosion ] >> it was incredible. i think most people agree that it looks like some kind of a nuclear detonation. it's the most amazing thing. >> the shockwave ripples across the desert, blowing out windows and doors in homes and businesses throughout the cities of henderson and las vegas.
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>> the plant was pretty close to a mountain range and when the pressure wave went out, it rebounded off the mountain and came back at an even more force. >> nearly everybody you talked to, no matter where they were at in las vegas, felt a tremendous hit. we realized that this was a serious, huge disaster. as you can see the damage, it really began to hit home. >> dennis todd watches from the mountaintop in disbelief. >> i was not ready for the mother load explosion when it came. it looked like nothing that i had ever seen before. >> the explosion kills two people, one whose body is never found. both are employees of pepcon who don't make it out in time. more than 350 people are injured. >> i remember one person describing it as, they were on a run, just a dead run away from the facility and as the shockwave of the blast, you
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know, hit them, they ended up basically opening their eyes and they were on the ground. >> the blast consumes most of the remaining chemicals and there are no more explosions. the natural gas line is shut off and the fire burns itself out by the next day. >> and nobody can believe it. i think there was a realization from the residents of henderson that they had a dangerous industry right in their backyard and nobody stopped to think about it before a disaster of that magnitude. a marshmallow factory next door is leveled by the explosion. fortunately, all its employees evacuate beforehand. but it creates a sticky situation for firefighters who search through the debris. >> all of us had brown syrup all over our safety gear and pretty much saturated with marshmallow syrup. kind of a brown, sugary syrup. >> 200 miles away, the final explosion measures 3.5 magnitude
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at the california institute of technology in pasadena and is even felt by a commercial airplane on approach to the las vegas airport. >> as that shockwave went across the desert, anything its path was leveled, destroyed, disturbed. >> an investigation finds the fire is started by a welder's torch during maintenance and is spread by chemical residue that causes a fiberglass wall to ignite. the plant is rebuilt in utah and a power substation eventually takes its place in nevada. those that experienced the disaster firsthand will never forget it. >> the last explosion and the shockwave is burned into my brain forever. coming up -- workers moving a building run into serious trouble. and truckers make big mistakes. >> i'm thinking, what are you doing, guy? get out of there. >> when "caught on camera: total destruction" continues.
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people are shocked when an office building inexplicably falls over and crashes into the street. july 23rd, 2004, the philippines. an alarming situation develops when the eight-story building leans precariously over, one of the city's main shopping districts. age is not the problem. the building is just five years old. but the modern structure has been leaning over the street the last couple of days and is now in critical condition. fearing the worst, authorities evacuate the building and other buildings in the area. the busy street is cordoned off and camera crews record the scene from both sides of the street.
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then, just a few hours after everyone gets out of the building, it falls over. the building brings down power lines and kicks up a huge cloud of dust and debris. the collapse leaves a mound of rubble about half as high as the original structure. no one is injured. an investigation determines that flawed design and faulty construction, particularly with the building's foundation, are the main reasons for the collapse. across the globe, a much older
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and smaller building, a 122-year-old brick firehouse is being moved to a new location when something goes terribly wrong. the historic firehouse crumbles into a pile of rubble. august 21st, 2008, peekskill, new york. after months of planning, workers begin the slow and delicate operation of moving the firehouse. the firehouse, built in 1890, is home to the centennial hose company. it serves the peekskill community for 90 years before closing in 1980 because of recurring problems with flooding. >> every time we had heavy rains, it would flood out our firehouse. we used to be knee-deep, sometimes chest deep in watt near the fire house. >> despite decades of neglect, firefighters cherish the centennial and the memories it
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holds. but to make room for a new bridge, the fire house is scheduled to be demolished. instead, the city of peekskill decide to move it down the street and turn it into a museum. however, moving a 122-year-old brick building is not easy feat and firefighters were concerned. >> i was kind of skeptical as to whether it would be able to be moved or not. >> a local video production company decides to document the move and a professional videographer sets up his equipment and begins to record the scene. >> they were turning the building 90 degrees so the front of the building would now face another direction so they could retool and get it to its new location. >> across the street from the firehouse, bobby, an employee at dane's lumber, repositions the store's security camera to capture the massive endeavor. >> just in case there was a mishap, i wanted to make sure that i had the camera pointed at the firehouse so i could have a record of it.
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>> as soon as workers begin rotating the fragile building, it falls apart. >> all of a sudden you heard a pop and the whole building was leaning. what amounted to three seconds, it was on the ground. >> a huge cloud of dust and debris surrounds the area and onlookers fear that workers are hurt. >> do you believe that? >> yeah. >> oh, man. >> there was about 20 workers and the company itself was a father and son team. and the son can be heard vividly on the video ohio screaming, where's my father? where's my father? >> where is my father? >> he got out. he's all right. he got out. he's over there. he's over there. >> workers scramble to see if anyone is trapped or injured.
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>> within less than five minutes, all of the men knew that everyone was accounted for. and then at that point it just became cleaning up, getting the police department, fire department down. >> an investigation concludes a hydraulic lift supporting the mobile platform fails when the firehouse is being rotated to clear power lines. to honor the centennial's history, some bricks are displayed in a trophy case at the current fire house. coming up -- the milwaukee brewer's new stadium comes crashing down. >> there was nothing you could do. it was terrifying. and a massive storm floods more than a basement when "caught on camera: total destruction" continues. over an average adult lifetime,
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great job. (mandarin) ♪ cut it out. >>see you tomorrow. ♪ a house breaks off from its foundation and floats down a river.
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>> i think everybody was just in absolute awe. >> instead of breaking apart, the house somehow stays together and drifts away. >> i had never seen anything like that before. >> i used to be a general contractor, so i'm amazed, number one, that the house stayed together after it fell in the water and floated. >> december 21st, 2010, little field, arizona. torrential rain causes massive flooding along the virgin river. >> mother nature, isn't she something? >> oh. look at that. >> wow! >> they call it the 100-year flood and they have the 100-year flood in 2005 and the 100-year flood in 2010. >> this is the second time for a
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100-year storm in five years. we had two. >> flood gauges reach critical levels and the local fire department warns residents in the known danger zone to get out. >> we actually went door to door telling everybody that, you know, the flood was coming, that they needed to move out of their homes. >> after warning the neighborhood, the battalion chief began warning a stretch of houses most at risk. >> let's pick up a little bit. it's getting close to the edge. hey, don't get too close to the bank. >> there's nothing more he and his colleagues can do but watch and wait. >> when that moment arrived, it was kind of sad because people were losing their homes. >> it turns out he's not the only person videotaping the devastation. >> where are you from? >> from "the las vegas review journal." >> a videographer for "the las vegas review journal" newspaper is also on the scene. >> you could see this house
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hanging on its edge of the foundation and undercut it, and about a third of the house was completely out in the air. >> all eyes and cameras are on the beige house with white trim. no one is inside. the owner just completed construction and hasn't moved in yet. >> it's not finished yet, nope. >> i just talked to him and he said he just finished painting it and he was laying down the floor. >> there it goes. >> then, the unfinished house is finished forever. >> we knew it was coming. the sound is extremely eeraerie. the cracking, the popping -- >> the house shears off from the garage and falls into the river. >> wow. look at that. look at that. >> it starts floating away but then rams into the neighbor's house. >> when it hit it and spun it
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around, i thought the house would then kind of fall apart, but it continued down the river. >> everyone is stunned as the well-constructed house stays together. >> the walls were still in tact, the roof was in tact. it floated down the river like a boat. >> it was hard to believe that a home would stay whole like that and just go down the wash like it did. the guy that built it must have built it very well. >> firefighters wish there was more they could do to help. >> when the house started going down the stream, it's just very emotional at that moment. >> just felt a bad for the owners. i don't know how else to describe it. just felt bad for those guys. >> incredibly, the house continues making way down river. >> it stayed pretty upright, it didn't wobble. it was like somebody could have been in the kitchen cooking. it didn't appear to be a rough ride. >> but its voyage doesn't last forever. the house gets tangled up with a tree.
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the turbulent water smashes against the house causing it to break apart. >> i bet you'll find washers, dryers, appliances, maybe some silverware. >> after taking quite a beating, the house is gone. >> just disappeared. i did several flights over the area and we could see pieces of roof downstream. a lot of just debris. you know, after they broke up. >> justin rushes to get his video on to the newspaper's website. the amazing footage quickly goes viral. >> i just uploaded the clip raw. it was by far the most popular on the website in the three years i've been with the "las vegas journal." >> watching the destructive powerful nature is a humbling experience for the firefighters. >> at least they will talk about
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it. >> it's unbelievable what we see in that video. >> it's the american dream to own a house and to see one float down the river is devastating. coming up -- it's train versus truck. and the dallas cowboys versus nature's fury. >> it was terrifying. >> when "caught on camera: total destruction" continues. out of 42 vehicles... based on 6 different criteria... why did a panel of 11 automotive experts... ... name the volkswagen golf motor trend's 2015 car of the year? we'll give you four good reasons the all-new volkswagen golf starting at $17,995. there's an award winning golf for everyone.
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this hour's top stories for you. two missing kentucky teens accused of ooh crime spree akrousz the south are in police custody. 18-year-old dalton hayes and his 13-year-old girlfriend cheyenne phillips were reported of missing two weeks ago. at least three people with dead after a flash freeze storm sweeping across the northeast hit. freezing rain created icy roads and bridges, which caused serious pileups like this one on in pennsylvania. now bought to "caught on
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camera." a railroad crossing in maple ridge, british columbia, a canadian logging town about an hour outside of vancouver is a known danger zone for truckers. >> i am going to say there are probably four or five hits in the 25 years that i've worked here. >> he works for a lumber company right near the rail crossing where freight trains barrel through each day. >> most of these trains are going between 80 and 100 kilometers an hour, which is between 50 and 60 miles an hour. >> on july 25th, 2008, one of walden's security cameras captures a tractor-trailer pulling up to the railroad crossing just as the gates are going down. >> i could see the train coming around the corner and the train must have been doing about 55 miles per hour.
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>> ian woodruff is driving a tractor-trailer right behind the one on the tracks and watches as the rig backs up. >> i watched him and to my amazement i couldn't believe he was going on the tracks. and as he got onto the set of tracks, the front warning gate came down. >> the truck begins backing up but the back gate closes just behind the driver's section of the 18-wheeler. the driver stops again, losing precious seconds as a speeding freight train heads right at him. >> i'm thinking, what are you doing, guy? get out of there. >> the big rig then lurches forward trying to outrun the train. >> i was stunned. i thought, what is he doing? don't take a chance like that. >> the fast moving northern canadian train makes a direct hit knocking the driver's section sideways. >> the train just smoked him, just t-boned him. the noise of it was like a sonic boom.
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>> employees at the lumber store hear the collision. >> just all of a sudden, bang, and we all knew instantly what had happened. >> kirk naggy runs to the accident scene fearing the worst. >> came running out and thought i was going to see something pretty bad inside the truck. >> he finds the driver walking around physically okay but badly shaken. >> the driver looked like he had just been transported from another place in time. he was in a daze. he was quiet. he looked like he knew he could have been killed. >> the train didn't hit the cab. it hit the last axle on the tractor, on the truck. and just spun it around. and that's what saved that guy's life. >> the massive collision is a learning experience for truck drivers who view the dramatic footage and especially for the one who sees it firsthand. >> every time i cross that train track crossing, i think of that day. other train crossings, i slow
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down, i stop, and i make sure there's nobody coming. [ horn ] another direct hit at a railroad crossing. this time, in the american midwest. may 24th, 1991, lafayette, indiana. a freight train blows its horn and then slams into a tractor-trailer trying to cross the tracks. the norfolk southern train forces the truck 75 feet down the track before finally coming to a stop. >> it was like slow motion. it hit in the trailer and it kind of scooted down the trailer and then it was pushing on the cab and it knocked down signals. rocks were flying everywhere. >> mark skaggs lives in town and
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videotapes trains for a hobby. he's recording a different train moments before impact and almost misses the collision. >> i heard the whistle blowing and i spun around and caught it just at that instant. i kind of had a sinking feeling because i thought, oh, man, this guy could be dead. >> the train engineer and conductor check on the truck driver. he survives. rescue workers arrive quickly and take him to the hospital. he's released the next day. >> he was fortunate that the train wasn't going any faster. it could have been much worse. [ horn ] >> and in the southeastern united states, another train enthusiast gets the shock of a lifetime. november 21st, 2007, salisbury, north carolina. a tractor-trailer is slowly crossing the railroad tracks
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when a norfolk southern freight train plows right into it. >> the train hit the trailer pretty much dead center in the middle of the trailer. >> the train lifts the 18-wheeler off the ground and sheers off the rear axle. >> the trail got split many half. it went through the air like a frisbee. stuff was going everywhere. >> the massive collision is caught on camera by benjamin, who also videotapes trains as a hobby. he inherited his love of trains from his father who, in turn, got it from his dad. >> when i was small, my father and grandfather would take me over to the train tracks in greensboro. and once he started getting a little bigger and we started going outside the tracks and watching trains and he got interested and started taking pictures of them. >> on the day of the collision, father and son head to one of their favorite spots to train watch. a railroad crossing by a recycling transfer station. while dad waits in the car, the
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young train buff walks to the other side of the tracks and starts recording a tractor-trailer that stops right in the middle of the crossing. as the gates start to close, he quickly realizes he, too, is in danger. he makes a split second decision to run to a safer location. >> i noticed that there was about to be a bad day, so i took off running with my camera farther away from the tracks. i didn't want to get hit by any flying debris or anything. >> he plants his tripod and starts adjusting the camera moments before impact. >> i didn't think i was going to be able to get it on video but luckily the camera was pointing in the right direction so i got the video. i was about scared to death. captured something i thought i'd never see. >> the truck driver starts inching forward but it's too little too late. pieces of the truck fly towards
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the camera. >> i was scared. i didn't know if something was going to hit me or anything. i was just hoping that i was out of harm's way. >> he was stunned. >> i was like, holy cow, this just happened. >> his father is on the other side of the tracks and checks on the truck driver. >> i seen the truck driver and i asked him if he was okay. he said he was okay. he didn't have a lot to say at the time. i reckon he was trying to figure out what happened. >> the train engineer is also unharmed. the heart-stopping incident doesn't stop him from watching trains with his dad and recording them. >> to this day, i'm still videoing trains. i've always enjoyed doing it and it's the only one i've ever seen where something bad happened, thankfully. coming up, the construction of a new baseball stadium comes to a halt. >> you don't expect to see one
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of the most catastrophic construction accidents we've ever had. and a fighter jet falls from the sky. >> when "caught on camera: total destruction" continues. i make a lot of purchases for my business. and i get a lot in return with ink plus from chase. like 50,000 bonus points when i spent $5,000 in the first 3 months after i opened my account. and i earn 5 times the rewards on internet, phone services and at office supply stores. with ink plus i can choose how to redeem my points. travel, gift cards, even cash back.
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a violent storm wreaks havoc on the dallas cowboy's practice facility forcing everyone to run for their lives. >> and i was trying to get through the door, the door collapsed. and i'll never forget this. one of the players pushed me out of the way to get through. so it wasn't like, hey, let's leave in an orderly fashion. it was, get out of the way. i want to get out of here. >> march 2nd, 2009, irving, texas. a massive thunderstorm moves the
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dallas cowboy's rookie practice indoors. all seems fine until the lights start to sway. >> that's when i got nervous. i thought, one of these things is going to snap. >> seconds later, the entire facility collapses. about 70 people struggle to escape, including mack, a reporter for the ft. worth telegram. >> it's so fast and so chaotic, your first thought is, just get me to safety, wherever this is. >> a tv cameraman keeps rolling as people try to figure out what just happened and if anyone is injured. >> irving fire department. >> the dallas cowboys practice facility collapsed. >> what has collapsed?
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>> their indoor practice facility. >> okay. anybody hurt? >> i have no idea. i went out of there. i have no idea. >> sam! sam! sam! >> they realize the videographer is missing. minutes before the collapse, he was 40 feet above the ground on a hydraulic lift. >> sam! sam! sam! >> miraculously, he survives unharmed. the terrifying incident takes place at the cowboys' headquarters and practice facility known as valley ranch where one of the fields is covered by a dome made of fabric and metal to protect the players
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from bad weather. practice is moved indoors because of a thunderstorm. >> you could hear the rain and then you hear the wind. it was loud. you can hear it shaking against the material there. >> as the storm progresses, the walls begin to flap violently in the high winds. when the huge lights begin to sway, it quickly becomes obvious that the facility is no longer a safe haven. >> that's pretty eerie. you don't see that every day. they were just sort of swaying back and forth. and your first thought is, well, i want to get out of the way. >> but there's no time. the structure collapses in front of engle's eyes. >> it was terrifying. i'd be lying to you if i -- i had never seen anything like this before. it was terrifying. the sound of it was panic. i think that's the best way i can describe it. panic. >> sam! >> sam! >> sam! >> 12 people are treated for broken bones and bruises at the nearby hospital.
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no players are injured, but the cowboys' staff suffers a devastating blow. the most severely injured is 33-year-old assistant scout rich beam. his spine is severed and he's permanently paralyzed from the waist down. >> the initial reaction was, man, we were lucky. nobody got really hurt. it wasn't much later we realized, not everybody was so lucky and we found out about rich. i think that changed everybody's perspective of all of it. >> the cause of the collapse is immediately investigated. at first it's thought that a tornado hit the facility but it turns out the collapse is caused by a microburst, an intense downdraft of air over a small area usually caused by a thunderstorm. the investigation reveals that wind speeds during the microburst are estimated to be between 55 and 65 miles per hour.
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and because of structural flaws, the facility is unable to withstand the impact. the indoor practice facility isn't rebuilt. now when bad weather strikes, the team practices inside the cowboys' stadium. ten years earlier, tragedy strikes another professional sports complex. july 14th, 1999, milwaukee, wisconsin, a new major league ballpark for the home team brewers is under construction. a giant crane is lifting part of a retractible roof into place when something gets everyone's attention. >> what the hell was that? what's going on here? >> several more loud noises follow. >> watch it!
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watch it! >> then -- >> i thought i was going to die. stuff was flying like toothpicks. >> the event registered on the richter scale, had an impact that they noticed on their seismographs there. >> the terrifying accident is caught on camera by an employee of the occupational safety and health administration, a federal agency charged with setting and enforcing workplace standards. patrick is on site that day for a visit. seconds before the collapse, his colleagues begins recording the crane, not for work but for pleasure. >> we were videoing it just to see, and it turned out to be the best evidence we have. >> iron worker jeff kasinski is
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watching the event from a man basket, a bucket suspended from a crane inside the stadium. >> you don't go to work expecting, you know -- you don't expect to see one of the most catastrophic accidents we've ever had. >> the retractible roof we've ever had is the showpiece of the cutting edge baseball stadium. but lifting the reconstructed structure into place isn't easy. it weighs 400 tons. >> you may as well be lifting the world. that's a lot of iron to be lifting at one shot. >> the crane, nicknamed big blue, is the largest in north america at the time. it lifts the roof nearly 200 feet into the air. everything proceeds as planned until -- >> it was loud to the point where i could feel almost like a concussion to my chest. i mean, it was ground shaking. it was a really loud boom. >> the noise is caused by the snapping of the kingpin, the
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main anchoring device that connects the crane's main boom to the base of the crane. >> what the hell is that? what's going on here? >> that is not a sound that you ever want to hear. and it was bad. >> without the kingpin, the crane is doomed. seconds later, big blue and the roof come crashing down. >> watch it! watch it! [ bleep ] you can do, you know. it's terrifying. >> the crane and roof fall away from jeff's yellow man basket, seen on the right, and miss him. but another crane on the left is hit. it's holding a man basket with three other iron workers in it. >> there was a crane holding my
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three friends and then there was my crane and then blue, and mine was the only one left standing, i think. all of the other cranes went over. >> all three men lose their lives. it's a devastating blow. >> jerry star was a really nice guy. he was our union steward on the job. jeff is the guy i knew the most. and bill, diver we called him on the job, i had just met him. he was a real nice guys, you know. >> several other people are injured, including kasinski. he sustains a career-ending back injury when his basket is lowered and stopped too quickly. >> that was my last day on the job as an ironworker. >> an investigation finds several factors are to blame for the collapse. the biggest being the wind is blowing too hard for the crane to operate safely. >> the wind was 35 mile an hour gusting. it caught like a sail and it pulled this big crane over which fell into the crane that my people were suspended from in a man box and that's how it happened.
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>> robert habash represents the widows of the three men killed in a wrongful death lawsuit against the contractor mitsubishi heavy industries of america. a jury awards them nearly $100 million in punitive and compensatory damages, calculated in part from the video. >> from the video, we were able to time how long it took for the crane to go down where these guys fell to their death, 14 seconds, and the jury was asked to award per second what their conscious anticipation of death meant to them because they knew they were going to die. >> the verdict is appealed and eventually settled out of court. the stadium, named miller park, opens nearly two years after the accident featuring the only fan-shaped retractible roof in the country. a memorial to the men who lost their lives greets fans when
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they enter, ensuring the three iron workers will never be forgotten. coming up -- an f-18 test hornet flight turns into a fight for survival. >> i could not see anything. and i didn't realize they were on fire. >> when "caught on camera: total destruction" continues. [ narrator ] mama sherman and the legion of super fans. wow! [ narrator ] on a mission to get richard to his campbell's chunky soup. it's new chunky beer-n-cheese with beef and bacon soup.
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a u.s. navy fighter jet is conducting a bomb deployment test when something goes horribly wrong. >> it was quite an event. then we started doing more acrobatics. i was thinking about how i was going to get out of the airplane. >> september 30th, 1981, 5,000 feet over the naval air station in maryland. test flight photographer is
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filming an f-18 hornet from a chase plane. >> it was basically filled with concrete. the mission was to find out how the mark 82 would separate from the airplane in an emergency mode. >> dozens of other cameras are also recording the critical test of the navy's newest fighter jet. >> they are all stuck all over the airplane and then i'm there as the insurance policy. if something goes wrong and they lose the airplane, they have my film that can come back and reassemble what happened. >> little does he know, it's his plane that will run into trouble. when the planes reach 500 feet, the hornet releases the bomb flying at more than 500 miles per hour. >> we had just gotten into position and it came down a little bit and then turned on its side and took our right wing off. >> a slow motion camera on the f-18 records the bomb shearing off part of the wing.
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>> when it hit us, it was nothing. i felt a little bump. not even like when you run into a telephone pole backing up out of a parking place. nothing drastic. but then we did 360-degree rolls in less than a second and a half. so that got my attention. >> hep and the pilot are the only two people in the plane. as they spin wildly around and around, their plane becomes engulfed in flames. hep doesn't know the plane is on fire and critically damaged. >> i thought, oh, we lost control because he tried to evade the wing. i just thought we recover the airplane, thought we just lost control of it a little bit. i thought, okay, we're good. we're going to fly it and land. >> as they continue their fiery spiral towards earth, his vision gets blurry. >> i could not see anything.
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all i could see was black and gray. i didn't realize at the time that our canopy had glazed over. inside the fireball it all crystallized and i didn't realize that we were on fire at that particular time. >> the plane slams into the ground. then a camera scans the sky and finds hep and the pilot parachuting to safety. they activate their emergency rocket propelled ejection seats in the nick of time. >> i saw the fire and i said, okay, i think it's time to get out. i'm no longer having fun. i'm going to eject myself. >> he and the pilot shoot out from the doomed aircraft seconds before impact. >> i don't remember coming out of the airplane visually.
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i felt the snap of the parachute. that's when i opened my eyes finally or could see again. grabbed ahold of my parachute and looked um and saw the big circle and said, okay, i'm happy now. i said some other words, too. >> they float to safety and incredibly both are okay. an investigation reveals several problems. the biggest being that the chase plane isn't in perfect position when the hornet releases the bomb. >> we were just about in a very safe position before the weapon was released. we thought we could make it. there's also a whole bunch of what we call layers of swiss cheese that are involved in a mishap. it's all of those little things finally pile up into one line. call it the layers of swiss cheese. the holes line up and you have a problem. >> hep's camera and film are never recovered. he works as a test flight photographer for 28 more years. >> this is the worst thing that's ever happened to me by far. i never felt scared.
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everybody says, well, weren't you petrified? i says, actually, no. i didn't have time to think about being scared.

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