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tv   Caught on Camera  MSNBC  November 7, 2011 12:00am-1:00am PST

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oh, my god! >> a man pinned under a flaming gas tank. >> don't let me burn. don't let me die. >> a stalled plane drops from the sky. >> started diving. holy crap. >> everything goes blank after that. a little girl stumbles on the edge of a cliff. >> oh, my god! a family's roof gone with the wind. >> it sounded like an explosion. >> whoa! one bungee jumper's cord wraps around his neck. >> i saw my life flash before my eyes. >> another's snaps. slamming him into the water. >> i was the most scared i've
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ever been in my life. inches away from disaster, seconds from death. hello. welcome to "caught on camera." i'm contessa brewer. every day we go about our daily routines never thinking that at any moment we could suddenly find ourselves in harm's way. not much feels as ordinary as a trip to the convenience store, sightseeing in the park, or even filling up your gas tank. but as one ohio man discovered, trouble could be lurking just around the corner. a carpenter filling up his gas tank suddenly finds himself pinned to the ground, surrounded by flames. >> it was the lunch hour so i'm more so on the cashier's desk then, and that time is pretty busy.
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>> laura works at the sunmart gas station in menson township, ohio, and loves her job. >> we're smiling at 6:00 a.m. and smiling at 9:00 p.m. when it's time to close down. so we have a lot of regular customers. >> one of those regular customers is jim, a building maintenance supervisor. >> i come to this gas station every day for lunch during the workweek. >> october 9, 2009, is as routine as any other day. laura behind the counter. jim enjoying his lunch. >> it was towards the end of the launch hour and i noticed on our screen that some register tape at one of the pumps needed to be changed. >> while by the pumps to swap out the tape, laura notices another repeat customer, alex, purchasing some gas. >> the nozzle was still in his vehicle so i walked away. >> a few minutes later, with a full tank of gas, alex pulls his pickup forward and stops as a
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minivan rounds the corner, alex exits his vehicle to toss some trash into the garbage can. then, without warning, the van goes out of control, slamming into alex and taking out the gas pump. he is knocked face-first into the ground, the 500-pound pump crashing down on top of him. >> i was just standing there, and it just happened. the timing was just so split second. because i knew there was a man under there, i know i yelled, oh, my god. >> inside the store, jim and the other gas station employees hear the impact and laura's cries for help. >> i just heard her yell, oh, my god, he's pinned. >> jim leaps into action, but the scene outside is even more dire than he can imagine. the gas pump bursts into flames with alex trapped underneath. the fire fueled by leaking gasoline. >> and when the fire hit, knowing there was a man there, the first thing i thought of was getting that fire extinguisher. >> and when i came out, laura was headed back toward the door
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with the fire extinguisher and handed it off to me. the fire was starting to come up so i jumped on top of the fire and tried to knock it down the best i could to get the guy out from underneath it. i used up almost all the fire extinguisher and then put it underneath the pump and blasted him with it. >> following emergency procedure, another sales clerk, kelly chapman, shuts down the power and as captured by the surveillance camera calls 911. >> 911. what's your emergency? >> i'm at the gas station. we have a fire. >> where is the fire? >> the pumps. it's at the pump. >> get everyone away from there. we'll send -- >> everybody get away! oh, my god. oh, my god. get away from there! >> are they listening? >> no. you guys, get away from there! >> is it an open flame? >> it's an open flame.
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it is on fire. somebody -- there's an injured man, and the pump is on fire. it's an open flame. >> there is an injured man? >> yes. the pumps are over, and i believe it fell on him. he's bleeding from the head. >> okay. can you get him away? >> they're trying, yes. >> the flames are growing. the choking smoke thickening. time is running short as the group frantically tries to rescue the man. >> he yelled, don't let me burn. don't let me die. and get me out of here. get me out of here. >> miraculously, as they battle the fire, jim, laura and another worker lift the gas pump into the air. >> somewhere the adrenaline kicked in because i was still holding the fire extinguisher in my other hand. i was more worried about the truck blowing up than i was anything because the heat was really intense. >> with the tank lifted, alex starts to roll away from the dangerous flames. laura, jim and the others drag the shaken customer to safety. >> he's away from the flame?
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>> he's away from the flame. >> remarkably, he escapes without severe burns but suffers a fractured kneecap and broken ribs. the driver of the van pleads no contest to failure to control her vehicle and is fined $25. >> weeks later, alex is temporarily in a wheelchair, and he's reunited with his rescuers at a community award ceremony to honor their bravery. >> your quick actions and concern for the well-being of others at the time of confusion and extreme danger is in keeping with the highest traditions reserved for those we recognize as heroes. >> i'm glad that y'all are recognizing these people because i have great feelings for them. >> after the ceremony, laura and jim accompany alex on his first trip back to the gas station. >> it was just adrenaline running through. >> exactly. well, i think we were all running on a lot of that.
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>> i know i was. >> i don't remember too much. i don't remember getting hit, didn't even know it was a pump at that time. it was just a heavy weight on my back. and, as i looked around, there's a lot of commotion and a lot of yelling. and as i looked off to the side, my head was, like, pinned to the ground, i saw some flames around the edges of the pump. and at that time i started yelling, i'm under here, i'm under here. >> alex may not remember everything about that fateful day, but he does know how hard everyone around him worked to save his life. >> i just want to say thank you so much. >> you are so welcome. >> you're my angels. coming up -- a little girl drops out of sight. and a roof goes bye-bye. >> literally the sound made you feel like you were in "the wizard of oz" and you were just going to be lifted straight out of this home. and later a student's terrifying adventure. >> the most scared i've ever been in my life.
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i was inches away from death, absolutely. >> a law enforcement officer for more than 14 years, sergeant matthew davidson is no stranger to high-risk and dangerous situations. but one routine call he answers in 2009 almost becomes his last. july, the suburbs of houston, texas. sergeant davidson reports for duty in the early morning hours on a hot summer day. after filing some reports, he heads out on patrol. only a couple of hours into his shift, davidson receives a call. >> i had been working a little bit of traffic enforcement, dispatched to a stranded motor vehicle. a motorist had a right rear flat tire. >> reporter: on a busy bridge, the driver's attempting to change his blown tire on a very tight stretch of highway.
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>> the shoulders are narrow at the top of the bridge, and you can also feel the bridge move. he got out and started changing his tire and became apprehensive and nervous because of all the heavy traffic. >> davidson arrives on the scene within minutes. >> as i pulled up to the vehicle, i noticed the right rear tire of the vehicle was flat. he just wanted a patrol vehicle there for the safety to keep vehicles off of him while he changed the tire. >> after exiting his patrol car, davidson approaches the motorist to offer assistance. >> he changed his tire. he had the flat tire leaning up against the concrete traffic barricade. i asked him if he needed help lifting it into the tailgate. >> get it? >> the two men continue their conversation, but suddenly what once seemed routine turns on a dime. >> as he looked up to answer me, i just saw fear go over his
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face. his eyes got big, and there was no time for him to say anything. >> sergeant davidson doesn't see what's coming. >> you all right? >> i jumped, did a little quick two-step. i felt it jar my body. >> it is a 200-pound tire from an 18-wheeler. it rushes past the two men at an estimated speed of 45 to 60 miles per hour. >> i remember hearing the horn from an 18-wheeler. it was actually another 18-wheeler behind the vehicle that had lost the wheel trying to warn us because he could see it coming. >> the runaway tire races down the road, coming from behind. >> the tire hit the very back of my holster. >> you all right? >> yeah. >> and it caused it to twist around, which caused a bruise on the complete right side of my hip. it ripped out the holster, smoothed down the rough edge of the holster, and it messed up the grip and the magazine of my
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pistol. >> by chance, split seconds before the tire whizzes by, the sergeant places his hand high up on the guardrail and leaned slightly to his left. >> had i not, you know, reached my hand up, it would have, you know, even where it did hit, it would have probably severed my arm. >> the near-hit throws davidson for a loop. >> i got sick to my stomach immediately after. i guess all the adrenaline dump, realizing what just happened, an i had to collect my thoughts and just try to get a deep breath. >> davidson later watches the video captured by his dashboard camera, and the mystery of the runaway big rig tire is solved. >> on the video, you see the vehicle, the 18-wheeler, that lost the wheel. you can see that the right rear wheel and tire is missing as you see it pass by. >> the tire rolls along the entire span of the bridge, then
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falls into the river below. the driver of the truck with the missing tire does not pull over and has never been identified. >> got several calls in today. >> davidson escapes without serious injury and feels lucky to be alive. >> every day that i put on this uniform and i leave my home, i know and i assume the risk that i might not make it back that day. but you never really expect it to be from a runaway 18-wheeler tire. unexpected danger can happen on the highway and off. but another quick two-step saves this little girl moments before disaster strikes. september 2009. a 6-year-old girl is walking outside a mini mart in washington state when the unthinkable happens. as she walks toward the store entrance, a car appears out of nowhere, barreling toward her in reverse. suddenly, the vehicle takes flight and the little girl
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disappears. her father, standing nearby, fears the worst, that the car had struck and is now crushing his daughter. >> the car went back like that. >> miraculously, the little girl escapes without even a scratch. her life saved by the steel parking poles meant to serve as protective barriers between traffic and pedestrians. in footage captured by security cameras, the car can be seen speeding toward her. the parking pole catapults the vehicle into the air. after it hits the pole, the car rests at an angle upon the pole, leaving just enough room for the child to escape injury. the force of the crash is so strong the steel poles are nearly ripped from the pavement. the driver is found guilty of negligent driving. this harrowing tale could easily have had a far different ending. seconds before the crash, the young girl is seen walking
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outside the barriers, totally unprotected and unknowingly in harm's way. the little girl moves behind the poles to safety. perfect timing and one narrow escape for one very lucky little girl. coming up -- mother nature raises the roof. >> it sounded like an explosion. and later -- a bungee cord tightens around a jumper's neck. >> it seemed like the most vivid nightmare i've ever experienced. and a baby carriage rolls right into the path of an oncoming train. oh no! a dead battery... you're not going to make that meeting... the kids are gonna miss their game... and you could be stranded for hours! hi, i'm lou lentine. a dead battery
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kawai, the fourth largest of the hawaiian islands, is well-known for its sparkling waters and serene landscapes. but, in 1992, the seas are anything but calm on a day mother nature wreaks havoc in paradise. 62-year-old surfer tony has lived in kawai for almost 40 years, attracted by the
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picturesque shoreline and plentiful rainforests. >> great surf, great beaches. it's beautiful. >> but, in september of 1992, a potential threat to the state of hawaii develops in the pacific ocean fed by warm tropical waters, hurricane iniki swirls and intensifies, a dangerous storm system but one forecasters first predict will bypass kawai. >> it was gorgeous, sunny, calm. to think that there was going to be some devastating factor in your life within a few hours was kind of pretty far off in the distance. >> hurricane warning flags are flying over the northernmost hawaiian islands. >> defying predictions, hurricane iniki takes a 90-degree turn completely changing direction and heading straight for kawai. forecasters scramble to issue a warning. >> hurricane iniki, they have hurricane warnings out for kawai. >> a category 4 hurricane, iniki
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is packing winds up to 125 miles per hour. tony quickly comes up with a plan. >> i decided that the ground floor should be the bunker and i only had enough plywood to cover up all the doors and windows for the ground floor. >> tony's neighbor beth rushes over with her husband, children and pets to ride out the storm. >> the first thing in my mind was to protect as many of my belongings as i could, thinking that i was going to lose most everything, and get my family to what i considered a safe house. and that was tony's house. >> they felt that it was safer up in the highlands where we lived rather than being down on the coastal area where you would have large waves, possible tsunami. >> tony and his friends hunkered down and prepare for the worst. >> it clouded over and then the wind started. once the wind started, you
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needed to be inside or in some type of shelter. it was quite the roar. the wind was blowing horizontal, the rain pelting the entire house. >> tony's brother-in-law films the wrath of hurricane iniki from a house across the street through a crack in the plywood protecting his window, tony monitors the strengthening storm. >> every time i looked out this little crack i had to see outside, things were flying by that were amazing. metal roofs, corrugated roofs were like flying guillotines. >> first the asphalt shingles break into pieces and splinter away from tony's roof. then, as the house is pummeled by wind-driven rain and debris, his brother-in-law delivers some troubling news from his position across the street. >> tony, you're losing your roof! >> the eves had separated from the posts, and they were flopping in the wind. so we ran downstairs pretty
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quickly because we knew it was just a matter of time before the whole thing went. >> we were all upstairs going, this is not looking too great. >> tony, beth and her husband and three small children quickly run downstairs and huddle together as the house shakes and shifts in the wind. >> oh, my god! your roof is going! >> upstairs the structure is weakening. as horrified neighbors look on, tony's roof tears away from his home. >> oh, my god! >> it sounded like an explosion. >> it just kind of had a little ripple and then it was gone. literally, the sound made you feel like you were in "the wizard of oz" and you were going to be lifted straight out of this home. >> in two parts, the roof takes flight. one half decimates tony's tool shed, the other lands nearby in a neighbor's living room, causing extensive damage. the two-story, five-bedroom
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house is reduced to one compromised level. >> the walls were breathing. we just didn't know how much longer the downstairs would make it. even the floor structure was now in serious compromise and that at any time the drywall that was the ceiling could cave in on us. >> for several more hours the two families ride out the storm. >> the scariest moment during the hurricane was not thinking i was going to make it back to my house. >> finally, the devastating hurricane passes. tony and his neighbors carefully emerge from their homes to assess the damage. >> he's going to have it patched up by tomorrow. >> out of 8,000 roofs, 6,000 were gone. so the majority of the people did not have roofs to their homes. telephone poles were down everywhere. there was no electricity. many people didn't have water running. >> like hundreds of others in
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the area, beth's house is still standing but uninhabitable. the effects of hurricane iniki are devastating but not just to homes and power lines. >> i lost my job. i moved away from home for five years. i only saw my children on weekends for five years. it wasn't until my job allowed me to transfer back home -- and i'm getting teary about it because it was really very emotional -- that i could actually say the hurricane was behind me. >> living through the most powerful hurricane to strike the state of hawaii in recorded history, beth and tony now see things a little differently. >> we are just a speck or a dot on this planet and the planet rules everything. >> mother nature can come up at any minute and sneak up and just throw you a curve. so you really become more present and more appreciative and more grateful. coming up --
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>> i definitely wasn't breathing. i was unconscious. >> a bungee jumper's life hangs in the balance. and later -- a plane drops from the sky. >> holy crap. >> he was actually falling straight on top of us. and a little girl drops out of sight. >> oh, my god! i'm milissa rehberger.
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now back to "caught on camera." welcome back to "caught on camera." i'm contessa brewer. so far this hour we've seen average people going about their everyday lives when danger strikes unexpectedly. but, in our next story, we'll see what can go wrong when thrill seekers take a leap of faith. las vegas, nevada. a fun-filled weekend becomes a life-and-death struggle when a bungee cord becomes a noose. >> i definitely wasn't breathing. i was unconscious. >> whoa! >> it's may 2001, and these friends are looking for a thrill ride. >> it was my 21st birthday so my brother and i and my best friend vernon decided to go up and celebrate, and bungee jumping was one of the few things we with wanted to do. >> atop a 170-foot crane suspended over the las vegas
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strip, malu feels no hesitation. >> i consider myself somewhat of an extremist so i had no thoughts of anything bad going on. you sign a waiver and i didn't think twice about signing my name and jumping. >> there's malu out there on the edge. >> yeah! >> his first jump goes off without a hitch. >> the first jump went great. free-fall and everything worked out good. good enough for me to want to do it again, for some reason. >> a few days later, malu and his friend vernon are back for more. this time malu decides to try something different. >> we've got malu up here. looks like he's going backwards. >> they count backwards. >> three, two, one! >> yeah! >> so i was off before one. >> see you later. >> the drop goes smoothly, but, on the first rebound, something terrible happens. the rope wraps around malu's throat, and now he's being
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strangled. >> you can see the cord kind of rattling up. as soon as my head moved back, it crossed over and threw itself around me. and immediately i knew i was in trouble. >> malu's friend yells out to him. >> malu! hey, let go! tick it off your neck! >> but there's nothing he can do. with each rebound, the noose tightens. >> take it off, malu! >> it seemed like the most vivid nightmare i've ever experienced. i guess you can say i saw my life flash before my eyes. >> malu struggles, trying frantically to free himself from the cord. but his strength is fading fast. >> i reacted the only way i thought i could, and that's just to hold on and hope for the best. on the video, you can see the tail end where my arms drop and i go limp. and that's probably the point where i start losing consciousness. >> the video cuts out suddenly as the camera operator springs to the rescue.
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>> all right, we'll be right back. >> she had to harness on herself and then repel down to get me. they wenched me up, got the noose around my neck off and then slowly brought me up to the top. >> when he reaches the platform, malu's face is blue. he's not breathing, and his eyes are rolled back in his head. his friend vernon administers cpr. >> definitely vernon was a huge part of saving my life. if he didn't do what he did, i wouldn't be here today. >> later at the hospital malu is given a clean bill of health. incredibly, his only injury is a stiff neck. but, in another close call with with a bungee cord, this time in thailand, the injuries are far more severe. >> just jump? >> a bungee jumper's cord snaps, hurdling him headfirst into a river. this 21-year-old lives in wakefield, england. after securing a degree in economics from cambridge
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university, he decides to take a well-deserved vacation. >> after graduating, we all thought it would be fun to go to thailand, see the islands, party, have some fun. >> in august 2009, he and his friends head east. after several days of sightseeing, he notices an advertisement for a bungee jumping adventure. >> wow, this looks cool. i'm here, you know, carpe diem and all that. let's go. let's do this. >> along with playing the guitar, speaking italian and salsa dancing, bungee jumping is among his 15 things to accomplish in life. >> i was always looking for the next adrenaline rush in some way or another. this seemed like the perfect way to do it. >> his friends had already departed thailand so he decides to go it alone. >> my friends flew home four days earlier. i considered changing my flight to go with them. my mom said, why don't you come
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home with your friends? and the amount it was going to cost me to change my ticket i could live in thailand for another week. i was, like, why not? right? short flht to a remote part of thailand. the next day he arrives on site but with mixed emotion. >> i was certainly nervous. excited, but there was a fear there. >> he is prepped for the leap of a lifetime. >> as soon as you pay, you are weighed immediately and they choose the correct bungee cord for your weight. then a gentleman puts the harness around your legs and you step onto a kind of platform. and this platform, like, raises electronically. the harness looked fine, and it was the first time i've done a jump. they basically said, don't worry. it will -- we attach everything. your job is to jump. >> as the elevator rises, he scratches his head, second-guessing his decision but
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still committed to the jump. >> i was full of adrenaline. it was a huge rush, so excited but also scared. my head was saying, what are you doing? why on earth would you want to do this? >> overcome with fear, a would-be jumper bows out. he is up next. wrestling with uncertainty, he steps toward the edge. >> just jump. >> just jump? >> with a quick prayer, 165 feet in the air, he takes the plunge. >> just forced myself to go off the edge. it's kind of as close as i've gotten to flying. it's an incredible feeling, you know, that i haven't felt anywhere else. >> but only seconds later tragedy strikes. unexpectedly, his harness rips from his ankles. he's heading straight down at 80 miles per hour when he hits the water. the impact is as strong as a high-speed car crash. >> all i could hear was myself screaming. as soon as i hit it, i was,
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like, oh, man, something's gone wrong. my only thought when i hit the water was, dude, you need to get to the surface right now. >> remarkably, he remains conscious, and a bungee jump employee helps pull him to safety. >> my lungs felt very small, but i was thinking, i'm winded. i just need to lie down. he's, like, no, no, you can't lie down. before i knew it, i was in an ambulance. i gave them my mom's phone number and then lost consciousness. >> once at the hospital, doctors worked quickly to assess the damage. >> both my lungs were collapsed. my liver was torn. my spleen was so badly ruptured they had to take it out, and i had hemorrhages in both my eyes. >> with his parents back in england, family friends living in the area rushed to the hospital. he's unconscious for more than 12 hours and in critical condition. >> when i next woke up, i was on
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a breathing machine, had seven or eight tubes coming out of me, and i was the most scared i've ever been in my life. they said, thank god you got to the hospital when you did. >> nearly two months later his parents bring him home. painfully, he relives the nightmare by watching the video of his accident. >> i was watching it thinking, who's that guy? that's not me. really? wow! and then i kind of watched it a few more times, and it kind of sunk in. when something like this does happen, you gain a lot of perspective and it makes you realize what's really important. and you appreciate little things a lot, lot more. >> incredibly, the near-death experience has not stopped him. >> i've been given a second chance so i'm going to make the most of it. >> he's gearing up for his next adventure, skydiving. but his mother and friends aren't convinced jumping out of
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an airplane is the best idea. >> my friends have warned me of the age-old adage, if at first you don't succeed, skydiving is definitely not for you. but we shall see. coming up -- diving for cover from a crashing plane. and a stroller lands right in the path of an oncoming train. it's very fun to be able to say that a plane nearly took my head off. >> 21-year-old college student dustin kohler may be laughing because no emotion can neatly describe that freakish day when his love for airplanes nearly cost him his life. >> holy crap. >> a student of aerospace engineering, kohler has a keen interest in aviation. in june 2009, he and his father set out to film takeoffs and landings of seaplanes, a gift for kohler's grandfather who shares his great appreciation for small planes.
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normally where you can get some of the best shots. we were about ten feet off the water, above the canal. there's a little fence that keeps you from going closer, and we were standing right on the fence line. >> on the third day testing out his brand new video camera, kohler spots a small aircraft on the other side of the lake taxiing across the water. >> so we were jogging up to catch up. we had to get around the trees so we could get a good shot of the plane taking off. >> the single engine prop plane ready for flight begins to build
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speed. >> everything was normal, >> on the third day testing out his brand new video camera, kohler spots a small aircraft on the other side of the lake taxiing across the water. >> so we were jogging up to catch up. we had to get around the trees so we could get a good shot of the plane taking off. >> the single engine prop plane ready for flight begins to build speed. >> everything was normal, started revving up the engine. it started taking off, it started into its turn. it did point at us for a while, but that's normal. >> suddenly, a gust of wind momentarily lifts the plane from the water, knocking it off course. >> the plane where the wind gust hit, it actually lifted out of
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the water, the wrong float came out of the water. then when the float crashed in the water, it caused it to pivot enough that it came straight at us. when he first started pivoting toward us, i thought he was maybe trying to show off for the camera. >> as the plane continues to approach, now alarmingly close to the water's edge, kohler tries to adjust his camera. >> i didn't realize anything was going wrong until the point where i suddenly zoomed out and the plane was still taking up you the entire shot. >> the pilot attempts to regain control of the airplane. >> so he had to pull up or bite the bank. he chose to pull up and didn't have enough speed. he tried to make it, hoping that he could get a little bit of lift, but he didn't have enough lift so basically stalled right over our heads. at that point, i just start diving. while we were diving he was
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actually falling straight on top of us. everything goes blank after that. >> the plane whizzes past kohler's head, taking out part of the security fence. father and son dive to the ground. >> holy crap. >> all i saw was the blur of a wing go over my head. the wing missed us by a few feet and the prop was no more than a couple feet to the side of me. >> kohler, still filming, watches in horror as the plane crashes only steps away in a grassy field. >> dad had the camera. i had the camcorder. we both kind of ditched those halfway to the plane, just kind of tossed them onto the ground. >> kohler and his father are fearful the plane will erupt into flames. unsure of what they'll find, the two raced toward the downed aircraft. >> at first i couldn't tell how many people were in there. by the time we got to the plane, the pilot was already climbing
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out and trying to get the doors open. but with the way the plane was situated, all the doors were kind of blocked closed. >> since airport police are nearby and witness the accident, the emergency response is swift. within minutes, fire brigades and the anchorage police department arrive on the scene. >> by the time the first police officer actually got there we had gotten most of the people out. there was a pilot, wife, and two children and two dogs. we had gotten almost the first dog out when the police officer started chasing us back. then the police officer ended up pulling out the last dog. >> miraculously, all passengers aboard escape without injury. >> luckily, the fuselage of the airplane took a very soft landing. everybody inside was completely unharmed, no scratches, no bumps. the children weren't even
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crying. it was quite amazing. >> authorities canvass the area for eyewitnesses. >> me and dad kind of went over there and pulled the police officer over to the side and showed it to him. that was the first time i actually saw the video for myself, too. >> a narrow escape for kohler. but even his near-death experience hasn't changed the way he feels about flying. >> i still am not afraid of planes or anything like that. accidents happen. >> holy crap. coming up -- a baby carriage rolls onto the tracks. and -- >> girls, look. >> -- a 3-year-old stumbles on a cliff. >> oh, my god. >> it was just this sheer panic i had never felt before in my life.
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a mother watches in horror as her baby's stroller rolls into the path of an oncoming train, all caught on surveillance camera. october, 2009, near melbourne, australia. a mother stands on a windy train platform with her 6-month-old son safely buckled into his stroller. as the train approaches, she prepares to board and releases brakes on the stroller. suddenly the stroller begins to roll toward the edge of the platform. with only seconds to react, the panicked mother struggles to reach the rolling baby carriage,
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frantically waving to alert the train conductor. but it's too late. the stroller drops onto the tracks right into the path of the arriving train. in an instant, the boy and stroller are gone. on the train station surveillance footage, the mother can be seen lunging for the rolling stroller and nearly jumping from the platform to save her son. stunned onlookers watch helplessly as the train slams into the carriage. the mother screams in anguish. fearing the worst, she races toward the front of the stopped train. now 100 feet further along the tracks. remarkably, the boy is found under the train, crying and only slightly injured. because of the way he falls, he is protected by the stroller and survives with only minor cuts and bruises. it's a happy ending to one frightening ordeal. but another mom experiences shock and panic when her child
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slips out of sight. >> my god. oh, my god. >> elena is 3 years old on a day that nearly ended in tragedy. >> i was, like, please, god, save me. >> november 2008. while vacationing at a family-owned cabin on the oregon coast, the family decides to visit one of their favorite sites. >> ecola state park is a very popular spot on the oregon coast. i'd say one of the top three or four places to visit because it does have such a spectacular view. there's kids and tourists, a lot of people. >> pitten, her husband scott and little elena or laney are joined by relatives visiting from iowa. scott's cousin, craig's wife karen and their children. >> it was a gorgeous day. we were having a great day, excited that the sun was shining because on the oregon coast you never know what the weather's going to be like. >> the children have never seen the ocean so the group heads to
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one of the most popular overlooks along the shoreline. >> we wanted to show craig and karen and the kids the beautiful view. and i wanted them to experience the beautiful oregon coast with the sun shining. >> from a high cliff, the families enjoy spectacular scenery that stretches for miles. >> the cliff is about 150 feet. at first it kind of goes like this and then after that it goes sheer right down to the ocean and the rocks. >> i want my picture taken. >> and i'm recording you right now, laney. >> with karen filming, charlotte pitten keeps an eye on the girls. she was filming the view and the kids and just the girls getting ready for a little photo shoot. i was standing right beside her. >> the perfect photo opportunity of the girls' trip to the ocean. >> karen had just asked the girls to get together so she could get a photo.
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so they kind of scooted closer together. >> but, in the blink of an eye -- >> girls, look. >> -- as she poses in front of the fence -- >> my god. >> oh, my god. >> -- elena stumbles, slipping through the rails and quickly dropping out of sight. >> i started praying, and i was going, oh, god, oh, god, help her. oh, god. and it was just the sheer panic that i had never felt before in my life. >> without hesitation, cousin craig jumps over the fence and lunges toward elena as she rolls toward the cliff's image edge. >> it was just terror. i didn't think he was going to be able to grab her. i really felt when i reached the fence that i was going to see her on the ground. >> in the nick of time, craig reaches elena and stops her from plummeting down the jagged cliff. >> she had just grabbed on to a little bit of grass and a little bit of weeds that was there d up
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she would have fallen right back. >> during the fall, elena grabs at the other little girls knocking her cousin's shoe off. the other children are frightened. elena is shaken. >> laney was crying. >> did you get that on video? >> no. >> one of the other girls was crying because when she fell she tried to grab the other girls. could have been a lot worse. she could have grabbed both the other girls and brought them with her. >> pitten grabs and comforts her daughter while trying to regain her own composure. >> i felt like i was just going to faint. i just was in shock and kind of sick to my stomach. there's another area in the park that you can walk around. and i just was grabbing on to her hand so tight. she was, like, mom, you're
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hurting me, you're hurting my hand. >> pitten's husband scott who was walking in another area of the park and missed the accident returns to a chaotic scene. >> everybody's all up in arms and screaming and yelling. i, of course, said, oh, it's not that big a deal. settle down. >> but when scott pitten views the tape, he realizes just how close he came to losing his daughter. >> i remember thinking the first time i saw it on tv, i thought, i can't breathe. i mean, because it really did. it just like all of a sudden i saw that happen and it was like i couldn't breathe. >> the pittens attribute elena's survival to one very selfless and fast-acting relative. >> i really believe that if craig wasn't there, if it may have been another person there, that she wouldn't have made it because his reaction was so quick. and says he says, oh, anybody
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would have done it. anybody could have done it. but i don't believe that. i believe that he did an extraordinary thing. >> i was like, please, god. save me. >> charlotte pitten still can't bring herself to return to the family cabin on the oregon coast and it was months before she watched the video of that terrifying slip. >> it upset me again, and i thought how lucky we were and how god saved her that day and craig saved her and really how fortunate we were and how bad it really was. >> oh, my god. >> don't move! don't move. >> all the people we've seen over the last hour have been truly tested. thrown into life or death situations with little or no warning. dangling, diving, or ducking for cover, their narrow escapes might not be believed had they not been "caught on camera." to send to us, logon to our website at caught on camera.msnbc.com. i'm contessa brewer. that's all for this edition of "caught on camera."

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