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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  February 24, 2015 6:30pm-7:01pm EST

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of us here at nbc10. >> the news continues now with "nbc nightly news." on the broadcast tonight, disaster on the tracks. another commuter train plows into a vehicle in its path. tonight paeblgs critically injured in the fiery impact. out of control, this relentless record cold when will it end. crippling conditions in the roads north to south. sudden explosion shatters a quiet neighrhood and blows a home to bits. a terrifying moment caught on camera. to the jury closing arguments of the "american sniper" trial in texas. we're there live. and mystery in the sky. who was buzzing paris landmarks from the eiffel tower to the u.s. embassy with drones in the dead of night, and why. "nightly news" begins now. >> announcer: from nbc world
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headquarters in new york, this is nbc nightly"nbc nightly news"." lester holt. a violent collision between a commuter train and a vehicle stopped on the tracks in oxnard california. the metro link train carrying early-morning l.a.-bound commuters simply couldn't stop in time when a truck wound up in its path. the ntsb is arriving tonight after a rash of similar accidents at rail crossings across the country. let's get right to the scene in oxnard now. miguel al maguire is there for us. >> reporter: lester good evening. the commute into los angeles turned into a fireball on the rails. tonight, wreckage is strewn all over the rails behind me. federal investigators are en route here. they say it's incredible no one was killed. the fiery moment just after impact sent panicked passengers scrambling for their lives.
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>> bam! boom! >> reporter: jolting them on the train. >> definitely thought we could die. >> reporter: investigators say a produce driver drove his truck onto the rails just before 6:00 a.m. the metro link train with 51 aboard plowed right into it. all five cars derailed three tossed on their sides. >> that thing was literally obliterated. >> reporter: three are in critical condition. >> orthopedic injuries spine fractures, rib fractures. the type of injuries you would expect from a major trauma incident. >> reporter: the rear of the train can reach a max speed of 79 miles per hour spotted the truck in the crossing applying the emergency brakes early, slowing before the explosive impact. metro link said the passenger cars are equipped with newly installed safety features including a crumple bumper that
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absorbs collision. >> we can safely say the technology worked. it definitely minimized the impact. >> reporter: tonight the truck driver who fled the scene is being questioned. this rail crossing is rated one of the most dangerous in all of california. in an intersection known for its accidents, this one could have been much worse. miguel al maguire, nbc news oxnard california. this is tom costello, just 13 hours before this morning's crash, a 30-year-old woman was killed in silicon valley when her suv got stuck on the tracks. in front of an oncoming commuter train. it was three weeks ago tonight that a packed commuter train in new york slammed into another suv on the tracks. five people killed. some 855,000 passengers ride commuter trains every day. 476 million trips each year. but there are also 2,000 accidents at railroad crossings each year. last year alone, 239 people were killed.
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>> it's just a basic fundamental rule don't stop on the tracks. don't start across the tracks until you're sure you can get all the way across. >> reporter: in chicago, 17-year-old luke wilson was hoping to beat the train to get his 14-year-old sister lauren to school's play rehearsal. they never made it. lauren was killed luke suffered internal injuries and broken bones. >> luke has never gotten over it that crash. neither physically nor psychologically. he lives with that as we do every day of our lives. >> reporter: that was in 1994. since that day, their father has been on a mission, pushing new railroad crossing systems that use four gates, not two to prevent drivers from going around a gate and tempting fate with a train. it's up to counties and states to determine where to put those four or quad gate railroad crossings. it's been a rather slow rollout over the last 15 years.
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don't ever sit on railroad crossing gates or try to beat a train. >> tom costello thanks. all the way south to atlanta, more than 20 states nearly coast to coast from idaho all the way to new england felt temperatures at or below zero today. so much of the country now covered in ice from this brutal streak of weather. dangerous conditions on the road and all we can do is ask is there any end in sight. here's nbc's gabe gutierrez. >> reporter: the morning commute in north georgia was treacherous. this car out of control, slamming into an emergency vehicle. snow sleet and freezing rain paralyzed parts of the south, not used to this much winter. >> georgia does have snow. we enjoy it in small amounts. >> reporter: in dallas-ft. worth, a plane skidded off the runway. in tennessee alone, the death toll up to 30.
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burst pipes in frigid water cut off weather service to more than 30,000 people. even more record-breaking lows. 23 in vermont, minus 21 in concord, new hampshire. coast guard cutters are out on chesapeake bay. >> the coast guard says this is one of the worst winters they've seen since 2004. they've had to make sure that the shipping lanes stay open for the barges that transport 70% of the northeast's home heating oil. >> reporter: last week this medical facility in philadelphia was covered in ice after firefighters doused it with water. now they demolished it. in south carolina football players power through this frigid morning pract in suburban atlanta, kids enjoyed a snow day, but some parents and teachers were frustrated their school district waited too long to cancel classes. >> it was a bit confusing not to know if they're going to school or not. >> reporter: a winter now
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keeping much of the country off-balance. >> tonight there is still plenty of snow here on the trees in north georgia. they're expecting even more tomorrow up to five inches. and tonight a new winter storm warning has just been issued for atlanta just to our south. lester? >> gabe thanks. al roker is braving the freeze out at the mall in washington. al in a typical winter we get breaks behind this weather. where are those breaks? >> reporter: we're stuck in this one pattern and it's not going anywhere anytime soon. we get a little bit of a break today, or tomorrow as far as the arctic air. look at what's happening. we've got another arctic front pushing in ahead of the temperatures slightly cooler. but behind it anywhere from 20 to 30 degrees below average. the lows by thursday morning for the great lakes to the northeast 10 to 20 degrees below average. highs on thursday only get up into the teens from buffalo to portland. down to cincinnati into the 20s. you can see winter storm watches, warnings and advisories
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from texas all the way to the carolinas, including atlanta. you can see dallas rain and snow winter weather advisories until noon tomorrow as we move to the east atlanta is going to be under, as gabe mentioned, another storm warning with two to four inches. we're looking for another four to six inches of snow in raleigh, north carolina and beyond. we're going to be continuing to see storm after storm after storm, lester. >> al we'll see you in the morning. thank you. the sound could be heard for blocks when a home on a quiet street suddenly exploded. the enormous fireball turning the structure into splinters and injuring at least 15 people. >> reporter: it was sudden and spectacular. police dash cam video capturing a gas explosion that ignited a fire and leveled a home. >> it happened so quickly, the explosion, debris all around us. it comes from nowhere.
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>> reporter: the new jersey natural gas company searched for a leak in the neighborhood. >> i dropped and covered my daughter. she was standing next to me. and i stood up and then i heard them screaming outside. >> reporter: the blast that could be felt up to a mile away injured 15 people two critically. 75 homes were evacuated before the blast as workers tried to find the source of the leak. many other houses some 300 in the area lost gas service and electricity on a brutally cold day. tonight as residents here wonder when they can go home investigators are trying to figure out why this house went up in flames. ann thompson nbc news new york. now the late word from stephenville texas. closing arguments are under way. >> reporter: the prosecution's final piece of evidence was an apology. in a jail house recording played for the jury eddie ray routh
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says quote, it tore my expletive heart out when i did it. i don't know why i did it but i did it. two weeks of testimony from three dozen witnesses boils down to this was routh insane or deliberate when he shot chris kyle and chad littlefield at a texas gun range two years ago. routh waited to strike until his victims had their backs to him and shot them from only feet away saying they especially kyle quote, absolutely never saw this coming. routh has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. his attorneys argue he was psychotic at the time of the shooting. the prosecution arguing he knew his conduct was wrong. kyle's widow spoke at the oscars. >> i miss my husband. i want him here. it's been two weeks of -- i'm
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not supposed to talk about it. the details are horrific and hard to listen to. i have faith in the jury. i think they'll come to the right conclusion. >> reporter: closing arguments are wrapping up right now inside the courthouse behind me. the jury will begin deliberating the case in a matter of minutes. and they have three options before them. guilty not guilty or not guilty by reason of insanity. lester? >> jacob rascon tonight, thank you. george zimmerman will not face federal charges in the shooting death of trayvon martin during a confrontation back in 2012. zimmerman was later acquitted of second-degree murder and federal prosecutors now say there's not enough evidence to bring civil rights charges which would have required proof zimmerman killed martin because of his race. trayvon martin's parents said although we're disappointed in the government findings we remain poised to do everything in our power to make sure that senseless violence is eradicated
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and no parent or community have to go through what we've had to endure on a daily basis, end of quote. the secretary of veterans affairs is apologizing for a claim he made about his service record while a camera crew was following him. today he found himself with some explaining to do. the pentagon correspondent has more f >> reporter: va secretary robert mcdonald seeking out homeless veterans on the streets of los angeles. but it's this exchange that aired last month that landed him in trouble. >> army? what unit? special forces? what years? i was in special forces. >> reporter: problem is, that's ue mcdonald was never a member of army special forces. >> that was wrong. and i have no excuse. >> reporter: at a news conference outside the va today, mcdonald tried to make it right. >> with your experience your service to the military then and now, how could you possibly say such a thing?
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>> i made a mistake. and i apologize for it. >> reporter: but he still took fire today from combat veterans like senator john mccain. >> it was wrong of him to claim that as part of his resume. but i'm much more concerned about performance as secretary of veterans affairs. >> reporter: a graduate of west point, mcdonald went on to special warfare training at fort bragg and joined the rangers, not special operations forces. president obama picked mcdonald last year to straighten out the scandal-ridden va hospitals. and today, the white house stood behind him saying we take him at his word. but on "meet the press" two weeks ago, he embellished his record at the va. >> we've got 60 people we have fired who manipulated wait times. >> reporter: turns out only 20 were dismissed. of course all this intense scrutiny follows recent controversies over claims made by brian williams and fox news host bill o'reilly about their
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own war reporting, lester. >> jim, thank you. one more note from washington as he said he would, president obama today vetoed legislation that would have given the green light to extend construction of the keystone xl oil pipeline from canada all the way to the gulf coast. it's just the third veto of his presidency. congressional republicans may try to override the veto, but they appear to be just short of a two-thirds majority in the house and senate that they would need. the mystery in the sky over paris. who is flying drones over major landmarks in the dark of night, and why? also buried treasure. we're on the hunt with a guy who's made some incredible finds. tonight, sharing his secret to striking gold in some very unlikely places. of your cheeks don't have to. defy gravity. juvéderm voluma® is the only fda-approved injectable gel to instantly add volume to your cheek area. as you age, cheeks can lose volume.
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there is a mystery tonight over the skies in paris, a city already on high alert after the horrific events there last month. overnight drones were spotted flying over closely guarded sites. we get more from nbc's katie tur. >> reporter: they buzz the city under the cover of darkness. drones flying over some of the most famous and sensitive landmarks in paris. between midnight and 6:00 a.m. at least five small drones french officials say, and so far they don't know who was flying them, or why. the first drone was seen over
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the u.s. embassy, then the eiffel tower, the louvre the best deal and the interior ministry. authorities aren't yet commenting publicly on their investigation, but given the recent attacks in paris, they're taking the incident very seriously. in fact security goes well beyond france concerned about the potential for threat posed by drones. from parliament all the way to the wh just last month, a small drone crashed into the white house lawn an accident it turned out not a threat. but a reminder that drones are hard to detect too small to be easily spotted by radar. and hard to stop. >> the main threat they would use is attack us with explosives and drive it into something. i think they clearly have that capability and that would create a shock effect the terror effect they really want to seek. >> reporter: today's incident was not france's first run-in with drones. last october they were spotted over more than a dozen of the
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country's nuclear power plants. investigators are looking into whether the people behind that incident could also be behind today's. katie tur, nbc news london. a lot more to tell you about. we're back in a moment with a big reason to smile tonight for kids all across the country.
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victory quickly turned to chaos last night when the unranked kansas state wildcats beat number eight, the kansas jayhawks. the court looked like a riot scene as students and fans stormed onto it. at one point the jayhawks coach was nearly crushed. police were asking for help identifying unruly fans. two tennessee girls teams are banned from accusations that the loser would be placed in an easier bracket. we're talking about a lot of missed free throws and a moment when nobody was playing offense or defense.
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alaska today became the third state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. it follows a voter approved ballot measure last year adults 21 and older are allowed to have up to an ounce of pot. the state is still working out the rules for marijuana sales. there is a ban on smoking pot in public. here's something for kids to smile about. a dental industry found that kids got an average of $4.36 per tooth last year. that's a rise of 25% from 2013. proof that even magical fairies are beholding to market trend. when we come back a treasure hunt in the most unlikely of places. they call it planning for retirement because getting there requires exactly
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sift through the occasional banana peel. >> reporter: matt malone ends up in this position almost every night. it's worth it. what's the biggest payload you've ever hit in a dumpster? >> i would say here. >> reporter: the day we visit? malone's unloading $10,000 worth of computer equipment he discovered down the street. a huge score for this security analyst by day, by night, in search of shopping centers and industrial parks, a professional dumpster diver who sells his finds online in austin a city of startups where even the trash is high-tech. >> i think somebody if they focused full-time at it could easily make six figures. >> reporter: so off we go on our nighttime dive. malone hops out, checks it out, but it's a bust. >> you never know what you're going to get. you go to a dumpster and it's like -- and then the next one --
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>> reporter: malone scores a bunch of industrial lights. a few hundred bucks in just a few minutes. by now it's nearly midnight but we check one more place. whatever malone sees, tips him over the edge. pay dirt. hidden cameras, leather watches all brand-new. you're like a kid in a candy store. >> it's like going shopping but without having to buy anything. >> reporter: back in his warehouse, malone tallies up the haul. nearly 9 grand worth of garbage in two hours. >> anybody who's ever went with me one time including my mother-in-law, were shocked at what we actually really throw away. we are a society of waste, waste, waste, new, new, new. >> reporter: for him, this isn't trash -- >> what's unuseful to somebody is useful to somebody else. >> reporter: -- it's recycling refined. nbc news austin texas. that will do it for us on this tuesday night. i'm lester holt. for all of us at nbc news, thank you for watching, and good
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breaking couples news sofia and joe's wedding suddenly on hold. >> now, on "extra." >> wedding postponed. why sofia and joe are are putting the brakes on their i dos hours after hitting the oscar party circuit. >> bruce jenner in drag. curly hair heavy make up and heels. jenner cross dressing for a tv special. >> orlando bloom's run in with his ex miranda kerr. exclusive new photos from vanity fair's oscar barb. the stunt that stunned jen aniston. >> and who was clint eastwooded


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