tv Dateline MSNBC December 28, 2019 2:00am-3:00am PST
it. >> what did you think? >> unreal. >> that's all for this edition this can't be happening. are you sure it's where zach is? are you sure it's in the same region? of "dateline." i'm craig melvin. thank you for watching. we were looking at maps, and i'm craig melvin. >> and i'm natalie morales. everything was pointing to, >> and this is "dateline." yeah, it's exactly where zach is. >> everything just began to >> we just prayed. shake. >> enormous waves you see here i just kept asking where is she, were hitting noda and kuji, the have you seen her? towns where zach and georgia were teaching. i wouldn't know what i'd do without her. the frantic calls began, to no avail. >> it looked like the world was >> what happened when you tried ending. his phone? >> it would say all circuits are >> growing um in indiana, tsunamis and earthquakes are the busy and you'd get a busy things you only see in hollywood signal. films. >> then the minutes went by. >> he was sure his world had >> uh-huh. ended. >> then an hour and two hours. the love of his life was missing. what did that feel like? >> hell. >> that feeling that she's not all right began growing as each >> as a parent, you never think, minute went by. oh, my child has been killed. out don't think that. >> strangers in a strange land you just wait. you just wait and pray for the had fallen in love, then the
quake hit, and all he knew was best. her town was gone. >> remember, zach had wanted to come home months earlier, but >> literally come hell or high terry and john had encouraged water i was getting into that him to stay, to live up to his damn town. commitment. >> that's where he headed, right >> how much did you beat into that hell, willing to risk yourself up about that? his life to try to save hers. >> fires on the hill, fire on >> i did. the water. >> could he get there in time? >> seemed right then, but now? >> i never loved someone like i >> the helplessness of we're way loved georgia. over here and there's not a thing we can do. >> georgia's family in new zealand including cousin chelsea were just as scared and just as helpless. >> one of my friends got a text >> welcome to "dateline." that said there had been a it's an epic love story, a young massive tsunami in japan. man from small town indiana obviously we all freaked out heads to japan to teach. because georgia was over there. there he meets a beautiful woman from a land nearly as far away >> they turned on the tv and saw and they fall in love. images from noda, the little coastal town where georgia was but soon this young couple finds themselves in the middle of one based. >> it was unrecognizable from of the biggest natural disasters the images she had sent to us. in recent memory, with whole the buildings were destroyed, towns being wiped out, would there was debris everywhere. they survive? >> and georgia, though they here is keith morrison with "swept away." tried and tried, was
unreachable. >> we really thought that she >> who can say what lurks out had gone, kind of lost hope i there past the horizon, waiting guess. utterly at random as thousands >> back in indiana that night, of lives tick to their the news ever worse, john turned unknowning end. on his computer and read that and simple coincidence, a young last e-mail from zach. >> he sent it literally ten man from middle america made a minutes before the earthquake single decision. hit, birthday greeting. >> could you imagine back there >> and said what? >> happy birthday, love you. in indiana that you're about to >> it said much more than that, make your life flip on its head? though. >> no, never. >> dearest rock inpoppy, happy >> how could he know that on the birthday. other side of the world a young woman made exactly the same whoo hoo, the wig five-oh. the more and more time we spend decision or that they'd meet practically on the eve of one of apart the more i realize how amazing of a father and friend the biggest natural disasters in recent memory? you have been to me over the years and have always given me a or how could he know that in the middle of disaster he'd lose her. perfect example of how a man an >> i wouldn't know what i would do without her. husband is to treat a woman and his wife. >> so coincidence, love, i was thinking, god, is this the disaster. last thing i hear from my son, you know.
there is no fairness about these >> and it's that. >> yeah. things, they just are. >> saturday morning, more than 24 hours since they had any communication from their son -- zach brannon turned 23 in 2010. >> by 8:30, we still hadn't heard anything. we still woke up to even more horrible images and then had time to think about the death tolls and all that. i just picked up a degree in it was just compounding and history from a college in indiana, no idea what to do compounding and compounding. next. and then he saw an offer for a >> and then about the moment all job in japan, a two-year stint seemed lost, another e-mail teaching english to elementary arrived, not from zach. school kids, no japanese it was from kenji, the volunteer language skills required. >> why japan of all places? mentor in japan, just a few >> i don't think there's any words, and they meant rhyme or reason to it. everything. i think it was just offered to me and i jumped on it. >> bran nan son survived. >> the town they sent him to in japan called kuji, a long way from his hometown of nashville, nashville, indiana. basically that was all it said. >> what was that like? on sundays he skyped with his >> of course we wanted more details. parents john and terry. >> it was a relief. >> zach was alive. john is a musician and terry a all they needed to know for now. school guidance counselor. but georgia, still no word. >> how did he seem to be doing? while his parents worried about >> it was rough at first, the him at home, zach was riding out language thing was the big the chaos in kuji. thing. >> you were a stranger in a
>> i wasn't really sure what was strange land. >> yes, yes. going on at first. >> was it a lonely feeling? >> after the shaking stopped, zach and his co-workers moved to >> yeah, it was. the top floor of city hall, a but it was made better by the fact that there crow easiness with a view of the foreign teachers in town. whole city and the coastline. >> along with the teachers, >> if something is going to happen, this is where you'd see there was one other person, a gn it? >> yes. teachers adjust, a local english >> then he saw it. speaking businessman named kenji something about the rivers that split the city and normally flow harayama. kenji, a pretty accomplished out to the sea. >> the river was beginning to guitarist found out that zach flow in the opposite direction. was, too. the water began to change color as well, began going from this >> i was amazed by his songs, bluish color to being very murky. his original songs, and also he >> even four stories up, zach played guitar very well. could hear the roaring river. >> it went from having small >> kenji pulled out an old gibson, handed it to zach. debris like trees and other >> he said consider it yours rubbish that was around the while you're here. >> zach took that guitar to harbor and stuff coming in to school trying to break the ice. boats and to vehicles -- to much >> i would play music for them. larger and much more substantial things. >> cars and things coming i think that helped break down along -- the barrier a bit. >> yeah, must have been picked >> just three weeks in, up along the coast. >> that is getting scary, right? overwhelmed by homesickness, hep called his parents. >> yes. he had had enough. >> of course, zach hadn't seen
>> maybe as embarrassing as it the footage that everybody outside the country had seen, is, i was actually crying, and i towns wiped off the map, said to him, i can't do this thousands missing. anymore. he couldn't know how bad it was. i want to come home. >> did your mind turn at all >> we said, no, you made a when you were up here to what's commitment. you're a man. going on down there where you gave your word. >> how hard was it to say that? georgia is? >> it was really hard. >> i hoped she would be doing >> it was hard. the same thing that i was, that >> i may have probably hung up she would be in a safe location. >> a safe location? the phone a bit angry at him was there such a thing where because it wasn't the answer i georgia was? wanted to get. in retrospect, i'm really glad. as the water around him began to >> zach tried to make it work. recede and zach and his and then one night when the co-workers came downstairs, he realized everybody was teachers got together there was someone new, another teacher incredibly quiet. just returning from a sunny >> people's expressions had vacation. >> it was this beautiful tan changed so drastically to these georgia coming back from croatia. looks of genuine fear, that's >> 23-year-old georgia robinson, a recent university graduate when i thought i, myself was herself from new zealand. scared. she had been teaching and living >> now he understood. in a nearby town on the coast if the wave got as far as his called noda. town further inland, it had to in october, they all went to a karaoke bar. have hit georgia's town right on the coast. >> found out he was a huge fan what happened to all those of kiss. so myself loving rock and roll, that sparked my interest. people there, to georgia?
>> did it seem to be the same suddenly he knew he had to find this girl, just had to. the other way around? >> no, actually, because i >> i wanted to see her, and i didn't hear anything from her wanted to comfort her as well. after that night. >> no idea what would be waiting for you at that end? >> no idea that back in new >> no, not the slightest. zealand, georgia's cousin chelsea started hearing about a >> there's a moment in some guy named zach. lives that defines everything >> she said he was really outgoing and a nice person that that comes after, the tests, the trial. was interested in the same sort this was zach brannon's test, to of things. pass or fail. they liked the same music and >> coming up -- the same movies. >> i never loved someone like i >> then a few weeks later she loved georgia. called him. >> but sometimes love doesn't ♪ conquer all, when dateline >> here they are practicing with continues. the other teachers for a december dance performance. >> from then on we ended up spending progressively more and more time together. >> it was a happier young man who went home to indiana for christmas. zach introduced his parents to georgia, sort of. >> i met her on skype. bless her heart, she had the flu and had her bathrobe on and was not feeling well.
what a way to meet us. >> what did you think about this relationship with a girl so far away? >> we weren't putting that much stock in it. >> we were grateful that he had someone to spend time with. >> i was talking to my mom. she was like, so you really care for georgia, don't you? yeah. my mom got a bit choked up and said, what happens if you move to new zealand? i had to assure moye mother and say that's never going to happen, mom. >> come january, zach seemed eager to get back to japan. two months later, friday, march 11, 2011, the day before his father's birthday. >> i actually spent a lot of the day writing my dad a nice big birthday e-mail. i hit send on that e-mail and was talking to georgia on gmail chat, i'll see you after this rehearsal. >> boom. >> boom. everything seemed to shake.
i was in an office chair with wheels. as it started, the chairs began to slide. things began falling off the at chevy, we're all family. we're a festive family. shelves. we're a four-legged family. >> zach had never been in an we're a get-up-and-go family. earthquake. his co-workers knew this one was we're a ski family. big. we're all part of the chevy family. worried the building might and as we kick off the new year, collapse, they ran downstairs we'd like you to be a part of ours. and out to the parking lot. because our chevy employee discount but soon they were told it was is still available to everyone. okay, it was over. when the shaking stopped, the the chevy price you pay is what we pay. disaster was just beginning. not a cent more. there was a monster out there so happy new year, and welcome to the family. over the horizon called fate, the chevy family! the chevy employee discount for everyone ends soon. and it was coming very fast. almost as soon as zach got back to his desk, warning sirens went off. even zach knew what that meant. if the tsunami was heading to his town of kuji two miles inland, what was it going to do on the coast in noda where georgia was? >> what had happened to georgia? had anyone in her town survived the tsunami?
>> coming up, zach knew he had to find her and a world away zach's parents still hadn't found him. about being a scientist at 3m. >> this can't be happening. i wanted them to know that innovation is not just are you sure it's where zach is. >> when "dateline" continues. about that one 'a-ha' moment. a, science is a process. it takes time, dedication. you have power over pain, so the whole world looks different. it's a journey. we're constantly asking ourselves, 'how can we do things better and better?' the unbeatable strength of advil. what we make has to work. we strive to protect you. what pain? at 3m, we're in pursuit of solutions that make people's lives better. of a lifetime. it's "progressive on ice." everything you love about car insurance -- the discounts... the rate comparisons... and flo in a boat. ♪ insurance adventure awaits at "progressive on ice." tickets not available now or ever.
at "progressive on ice." if your dishwasher doesn't get dishes completely dry... try finish jet-dry. it dries 100% better than detergent alone - even plastics. get dishes drier than you ever thought possible. keith morrison (voiceover): zach brannon didn't fully at 3m, we're in pursuit of solutions try finish jet-dry. comprehend how bad it was. zach brannon didn't fully comprehend how bad it was. the tremendous earthquake and the deadly wall of water that followed it was snubbing out more than 18,000 lives. tens of thousands of homes, whole towns were being swept away, but zach didn't know that yet. >> i just wanted to find georgia, my best friend and i wanted to make sure she was all right. >> zach kept telling himself she was all right. know da, the small town on the coast where georgia lived was protected by massive concrete sea walls and barriers. >> so your first thought wasn't, oh, god, she's in trouble.
it was more, thank god there's a wall. >> yes, it's there. there's no possible way it could have gotten over that. >> how did you find out you were wrong? >> well, i decided -- i just left, i left work. >> back in indiana zach's parents, relieved their son was alive got another e-mail. zach was going to look for georgia. >> now a new set of concerns like -- i wasn't even exactly sure where she was. so once we figured that out, we looked it up on the map, well, it wasn't far away, but we just -- >> it was even closer to the coast. >> it was closer to the coast. >> wondering what he might find. he was over there by himself and what would he do if he didn't find her. it was all those things. >> zach hopped in his car and began the eight-mile drive down the winding road from kuji to noda. >> as i come down the hill, i start noticing people are
walking on the side of the road, no cars, they're just walking. whole families walking and i'm just saying to myself, well, that's odd, that's strange. as i got closer i could see what looked like to be a house on its side just in the middle of the road. i was really confused because where were the tsunami warnings? >> police had set up a barricade, and beyond it -- >> what did you see over there? >> it was just complete, complete destruction. there had been a lot of the houses heated with kerosene. to kerosene tanks had been knocked out because of the keith morrison (voiceover): friday morning, tsunami and because of the march 11th, 2011. downed power lines sparked friday morning, march 11, fires. 2011. fires on the hill, fire on the in nashville, indiana, john and water. terry whitcomb had barely had a >> debris everywhere?
sip of their morning tea when >> yeah. the news jolted them awake. so it was just a complete scene of destruction really. >> this is a very powerful >> zach, almost in shock, walked earthquake. the images are stunning out of toward the barricade blocking japan. the road. >> an epic earthquake hit >> there was a police officer and he just said to me northern japan, 9.0, near the dangerous, no, and began trying top end of the richter scale. to escort me back towards where then a huge tsunami crashing up i had parked my car. >> so zach got in his car and drove back to kuji, trying to tell himself it would be okay, that georgia was fine. the scene behind the barricade was chaos, disaster, it was obvious there were many casualties was pretty clear. how many was impossible to know. zach understood as he was turned away by the guard that one person's anxiety could not be allowed to trump public safety. yet, at that very moment he understood with absolute clarity, he had to find out what happened to the girl behind the barricade, he had to, if she was alive or dead or injured. he had to because she was the
love of his life. >> he sent message after message by text. >> in vain. knowing they weren't going through, but just hoping. little messages of encouragement. i love you. i hope everything is okay. i'm going to come look for you. i tried. just know i'm coming. >> what were you thinking? >> i wouldn't -- i wouldn't know what i would do without her. >> i guess that's the first time you really had to confront it in a serious way, right? >> yes. >> i had never loved someone the way i loved georgia.
and -- so i -- i guess i just hoped that she was going to be -- she was going to be fine. >> probably didn't sleep much that night. >> no, no. >> the aftershocks went on all night, so did tsunami warnings. >> so you're thinking, is there going to be another tsunami coming through? so i didn't really sleep. >> at 5:30 a.m., he knew what he had to do. he left a note on his apartment door just in case georgia made it there. >> and i said, georgia, i'm coming to look for you. if for some reason you make it into kuji, stay here. if i haven't found you by sundown, i'm coming right back here. so know i'm coming back. >> and then he got in his car
again and headed toward the coast. >> and i just decided, literally come hell or high water i was getting into that damn town. >> but how? he'd certainly be facing hell and high water, but perhaps the biggest problem was the japanese army blocking the road. >> coming up, was time running out for georgia? had zach lost the love of his life? >> that feeling that she's not all right, it began growing as each minute went by. >> when "dateline" continues. charmin ultra soft! it's softer than ever. charmin ultra soft is softer than ever, so it's harder to resist.
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truck overturning in foggy conditions in texas. travel conditions will be tough in some parts of the country this weekend with snow in the rockies, freezing rain in the upper midwest as well. now back to "dateline". the battle against those six as the sun rose over the ruined coastal towns of northern japan, zach brannon approached the barricade outside georgia's town noda, determined to get past it, no idea how. >> i parked a little further out this time and started walking in, and they still had the police officers and the defense force there with their roadblock, but i noticed what looked like to be a group of locals with shovels and other gear, i'm assuming to go in to start clearing paths to the town. so i thought, that's my way in. >> the civilian volunteers seemed to have official permission to get in and clearly
knew where they were going. >> so i just pulled my hood up and hopped in line with them. at that point no one was really kind of looking around. >> he slipped past the police line, followed the group up a path away from the main road. he knew where he'd go first, if he could. >> so your first destination was her apartment. >> yes. hoping i'd find her sitting there on the floor reading a book. >> the path led up a hill past this shrine, descended back down to a horrific scene. noda was almost unrecognizable. >> there were these massive walls of debris, houses toppled over, boats, anything you can imagine. metal electric polls just bent as if someone has just come through and just -- >> but he knew georgia's place was on a hill. if she had gone there before the tsunami hit, she would be all right. but when he got there --
>> no sign that she was there. everything was still left exactly the way we had left it from the previous morning when we both went to work. >> as we went back outside, zach could see in the center of town. that's where georgia's office was, where she was when the earthquake hit, and what he saw chilled him to the bone. >> what i could see of the central part of the village that was so destroyed, in my mind, i just could not see how -- >> nobody is surviving in that city building. >> yeah. >> shaking that from his mind, zach thought georgia might have gone to help out at one of the three schools that he taught. when he got to the kindergarten, his heart sank. >> the kindergarten was completely gone. >> wiped away. >> yeah. all that was left was a bit of the fence and some of the foundation. >> a kindergarten that would have been occupied? >> i had hoped not.
>> later he found out those children were safe, evacuated before the tsunami hit. but now zach went to another school, found a group of teachers huddled in their office. unable to speak japanese, he passed around georgia's business card with her photo. >> i went in and kept asking, georgia sensai, where is she? have you seen her? >> they had not. but they did give zach some hope. >> they said chub bako, junior high, junior high. i take that, oh, she's at the junior high. >> so zach sprinted there, made his way to the teachers' room. >> i asked them, you know, have you seen georgia? they said they had not seen her, and i kind of lost it at that point. >> zach staggered outside, out of options, his despair now
total. >> what was happening in your mind? >> just feeling so lost, that feeling that i've been trying to suppress, the feeling of she's not all right. it began growing in size immensely as each minute went by. >> one of the teachers came outside to comfort him with a cup of tea. >> telling me, it's okay, it's okay, it's okay. hugging me and patting me on the back because i'm crying. yeah. >> then, out of nowhere, a van pulled up. two men hopped out. zach recognized one as a colleague of georgia's. they didn't look happy. zach tried to ask them. georgia, where is she? where is she? they didn't say -- because they
spof spoke no english and i spoke no japanese, pretty much like let's go, pointing to the van and pushed me to the van. >> they were taking him to city hall. >> as you were being driven in that van, did you have any idea what they were driving you to see? >> no. >> did you know they had been taking bodies to the city hall? >> no. >> didn't know that? >> didn't know. >> city hall had, in fact, become the temporary morgue. was that where he'd find georgia? >> coming up, the news everyone had been waiting for. >> he was very brave for what he did, very brave, but you do that for people that you love. >> when "dateline" continues. this is charlie not coughing because he took delsym 12-hour.
keith morrison (voiceover): two men had pushed zach brennan into the back of the van, which was two men had pushed zach brannon in the back of a van which was picking its way through canyons of urban rubble, apparently toward the noda city hall. had zach known he was heading to the place turned into a temporary morgue, he would understood the look of their faces. the van stopped, the men got out. >> they said don't get out, motioning for me to stay in the van. that was it. >> he steeled himself for whatever was coming next. what he did not expect was what he saw. >> around the corner, out walked georgia. >> and i saw this baseball cap over by a car and there he was,
the last person in the world i expected to see, trudging across the mud in his boots. it was zach. >> how was that? >> it was a pretty awesome moment, after the absolute insanity of the last 24 hours, it was surreal, but it was an amazing feeling at the same time to see him there. >> hair a bit frantic, like she had had no sleep like the rest of us. >> big hug, of course. >> she cried. i cried. one of the best hugs ever, you no, knowing that she was safe. >> go through the barricades, do whatever is needed to get to you. >> i couldn't understand how zach had arrived with his baseball cap in the middle of all this.
it was insane. >> well, that's the way to a girl's heart. >> yes, yes. >> and georgia's story, well, if zach had been ring side, georgia was center stage. and although she had been through earthquakes before in new zealand, this one was much, much different. >> that's the first time i found it hard to walk or stand in an earthquake. >> still, everyone around her seemed okay. she thought it was all just kind of exciting. even when the tsunami siren went off. >> oh, cool, this is really exciting. >> others knew better and georgia soon learned this was very, very bad. >> they said we need to go upstairs.
so i followed everyone. we went upstairs, looked out the window and noda was gone. >> oh, my god. >> this is what georgia saw captured on her cell phone camera. much of the town of noda flowing by the window. >> standing right here, look out there. >> this exact spot, yes. >> quite awesome, like half the town is up there. there's a roof here. >> a house wedged in under the entrance, almost broken in half. >> unbelievable. >> this house is not usually there. that's just in the middle of the car park. >> just phenomenal. wow. >> she felt safe up here, somehow detached from the horror she was witnessing. and then it hit her. >> there was this moment where it was absolutely silent and you could hear a dog barking off in the distance, and occasionally there would be a shout, but other than that it was so surreal, so silent. >> wow. >> yeah.
i won't forget that moment. >> water and debris piled up almost to the second floor. no one could leave. >> what was that like? >> that was the worst night of my life. >> a sleepless night huddled in her boss's office. thinking about zach. the next morning, a jolting aftershock and more sirens. but then zach found her, and together they looked at what was left of the town. georgia took these pictures. 38 people lost their lives in noda, a tiny percentage of the more than 18,000 who died up sand down the coast but half of noda was simply gone. >> it was like someone had driven a bulldozer through and it was all gone. how a wave can do that, i don't know.
>> lifting complete houses up off their foundations, so all that was left the shell -- >> the front stairs leading up to nothing. >> and then they went to the safest place they could think of, their mentor kenji's office in kuji where the other teachers had gathered. >> kenji being kenji, he found all the food that he could find in his house, anything that we could eat which included lots of beer and saki on hand. >> and music. zach and kenji got out the guitars, tried to shut out the world. >> to try to give ourselves some sense that everything was all right. >> then cell phones chirped back to life. >> everyone frantically sent e-mails to our families, telling them we're okay. >> back in indiana zach's parents finally got the news they had been praying for.
>> it took me hours and hours, but i found her and she's alive. so the first thing i did was call brenda, georgia's mom, and she was in bed. she wasn't asleep. she was trying to sleep. i said zach found her. she's alive. and she just screamed and started crying. >> mom came in and told me that zach had found her and she was safe and alive. the most amazing experience. he was very brave for what he did, very brave. but you do that for people you love. >> the danger wasn't over, of course. we all know what came next. >> you find out he's okay, she's okay. now what? >> fukushima. coming up, a different kind of aftershock.
>> he said, have you checked your e-mail yet. i have said no. he said why don't you guys look at your e-mail together. i said, oh, zach, what now? >> when "dateline" continues. okay wipe pretty-please do your thing... nice! nailed it! huggies® natural care wipes, gentle like a hug. hugg on ♪ shorten your cold by almost half with cold-eeze® lozenges. cold-eeze® can shorten your cold by 42%. it releases zinc ions that some scientists believe inhibit cold viruses from replicating. try cold-eeze® lozenges.
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get customized security with 24/7 monitoring from xfinity home. awarded the best professionally installed system by cnet. simple. easy. awesome. call, click or visit a store today. welcome back, i'm natalie morales. in the aftermath of japan's devastating earthquake and tsunami, zach brannon had rushed into the chaos morales. in the aftermath of japan's devastating earthquake and tsunami, matt brannen had rushed into the chaos to find his
girlfriend georgia alive and well. but the couple wasn't out of danger yet. here with the conclusion of "swept away" is keith morrison. >> the fukushima nuclear disaster, rescue efforts have been complicated by damage to a nuclear power plant. >> it filled the air waves. potential meltdown. nuclear armageddon. the president was calling for americans to get out. >> yesterday we called for an evacuation of american citizens who are within 50 miles of the plant. >> we were seeing on the muse it is condemned and it is a matter of time, they couldn't stop it, it could affect the entire country and the entire region of the earth. >> zach had thought the worst was over. >> so you never think you would ever experience a tsunami or earthquake and now you're experiencing a meltdown of a nuclear power plant. >> we wanted him to come home. >> here, we were the ones you
have to stay, you made a commitment. and now it is sometime for you to come home. but there was no travel of course, anywhere. >> and then, zach got a call from a u.s. air force officer. >> he said, we'll take you through the air force base and we will fly you to a safe location. >> so what you did you say? >> well, i said, i actually lied and said georgia was my fiance and said my fiance is a new zealand citizen, can i bring her along. yes. and he said i'm really sorry, we can only offer this to u.s. citizens at this stage, and again, we were behind. >> they were 200 miles north of fukushima and as the days end they began to feel the danger of the radiation, at least where they were so they stayed, to even help with the cleanup. and then about a month later, if youy how things go, zach and
georgia got another shock, another one of those life-change developments. zach told his parents about it, during one of their regular sunday phone calls. >> then he said, have you checked your email yet. and i said no. and he says, well, why don't you guys look at your email together. and so i said oh, zach, what now. >> after all the worry and dread they experienced over their son's time in japan, zach's parents were not quite prepared for the next bit of news. >> so we open the email and there's an ultrasound picture. >> a baby was on the way. >> we were literally speechless. one of the few times in my life i've been speechless. >> i mean we called it baby bean because it looked like a little bean. >> it just, it felt right, in a way, we were obviously, well are obviously in love, and the
timing wasn't amazing, but it had happened, so let's just go with it. >> still, there was one last step. zach hadn't been quite ready to take it before, but when he came home to indiana to see his family -- >> while i was in indiana in june, my mom and my sisters went with me, and we went engagement ring shopping. >> did he intend to do that? would very done that without a little push, do you think? >> i don't know. i know that i said would you marry her if she wasn't expecting a baby? and he said yes. and i said then she needs to know that. she needs you to ask her to marry you, not to have it be expected and doing the right thing, and so yeah, we had the discussion. >> when zach went back to japan, he was ready. or so he thought.
georgia met him at the train station. >> as we were walking to the car, i don't know, i just, i, you just have to stop. >> what are you doing? it's freezing. let's get in the car. let's go. and he was saying wait, and all of a sudden, he turned around and he is shaking, but he is holding a ring box. >> and i got down on my knee, and i just said i love you, and i want to spend the rest of my life with you, i don't care if it is in japan or if it it's in new zealand or if we're in siberia, i want to spend the rest of my life with you, and you know, will you marry me. >> and i said yes, of course. i had to put him out of his misery. he looked like he was going to collapse. >> so i was engaged and we didn't really know what we were going to go from there or where we were going to go and we were having a baby and we were going to get married. >> in fact, you got married twice. >> yeah, we did. yes. >> yes, two weddings.
the first in indiana. the second one in new zealand. and there was a special guest at that one. two-month-old sebastian. >> after promising his mother it was never going to happen, sure enough, zach and his family now live in new zealand, he works for the government, and georgia at a recruitment agency, and sebastian is busy growing up. in 2014, we brought them back to japan for the first time since it all happened. >> my name is georgia. >> this teacher and her students knew about georgia and zach. many here looked upon their story as one part of the thing that came out of that horrible tragedy. >> do you ever, and this is a totally unfair question, do you ever sometimes sit together at
night and say to yourself, boy, if it hadn't been for that day, would we be here? would we have sebastian? we we be in this life together? >> all the time. >> if someone would have told me three years from now you will be living in wellington. >> married to an american. >> married. with a two-year-old son. >> i would have said you're crazy. >> you would have thought they were crazy, you know. could have never imagined this. >> helped along by an earthquake, a tsunami, and god knows what else. >> yes, yes. yes. >> that's all for this edition of "dateline." i'm natalie morales. thank you for watching. and good morning to you, i'm richard lui in new york at msnbc headquarter, 6:00 in the east, 3:00 in the west.
fresh doubts about whether the impeachment trial will really be a loyalty test. we will tell you about the new call to action to senators, plus how the president is paying an historic price for doing business his way. >> joe biden is weighing whether he will comply with a senate subpoena or not. >> and michael moore and the odds of trump winning if democrats pick the wrong kind of candidate. >> plus -- ♪ christmas time is near ♪ >> remembering the man who