Guest: Alan Weiss, Allan Tannenbaum, Ben Fong-Torres, Stephan Lynn, Sean Gallick, Bree Smith, George Smith III, Maureen Smith
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: You are looking at images right now out of Midway Airport in Chicago, where, just an hour ago, an hour and-a-half ago, approximately, a Southwest flight skidded off the runway at Midway Airport.
Obviously, you are looking at live pictures of that shot right now. The airplane, upon approach to Midway Airport, actually skidded off the runway, and went into a street. We are still waiting for reports of the extent of injuries.
But, obviously, because it did go into a street, vehicles on the ground were involved in—in the plane crash, and, obviously, some injuries in that car, but, beyond that, we don‘t know the full extent of it right now.
So, let‘s go to Michelle Kosinski. She is in our Chicago bureau to bring us up to date with the very latest.
Michelle, what can you tell us about this Southwest flight?
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, the FAA has just shut the airport down.
It‘s Midway Airport in Chicago‘s south side. And the conditions here in Chicago have been absolutely terrible since about 2:30 this afternoon. They were predicting airport delays, predicting traffic trouble. But nobody would have foreseen this.
A car sitting at an intersection there on the south side, right next to the airport, was hit by a plane in the street. We know that was Flight 1248, Southwest Airlines out of Baltimore, skidded off the Midway runway, went through a fence, according to airport officials, hit a car in the intersection, pinned the car underneath, went up against a pole.
We know that there also may be a second car involved. From what the airport authority is telling us, all 98 people on that plane and five crew members are fine. There were no injuries at this point that they are telling us, at least, on that plane, and they also said that everybody on the plane was bussed into the terminal. They are being assessed.
Everything seems OK on that end, but in that car, we know according to the fire department there are two series injuries, and in the second car that may have been involved, looked like, according to the fire spokesperson, that it was—had minor injuries to the car, minor damage there.
They don‘t know if somebody might have been hurt in there as well. So those people have been taken to the hospital. They‘re assessing their injuries as well. But from what some of the people on the plane have been telling some local media outlets here, our affiliate in Chicago, the plane had been in a holding pattern for some time, couldn‘t land because of the terrible snow conditions.
Snow has been falling at the rate of about an inch an hour here. It‘s been doing that all day since pretty early this afternoon. And, then, finally, this plane goes to land on the longest runway at Midway Airport. It just couldn‘t take it, skidded right off the runway and into the street Keith.
SCARBOROUGH: Michelle, there—obviously, weather has been a factor throughout the day in the Midwest. A big snowstorm moved in that way, obviously impacting this. Had the Chicago airport been—had this airport been shut down because of weather that you know of at any point before just now?
KOSINSKI: Joe, no, there was no incident earlier today.
And, in fact, we didn‘t know that planes were landing at this point. We knew that there were problems, because obviously witnesses had been telling authorities that they were in a holding pattern, basically, waiting to land at this airport. And it took some time, according to some of those passengers, they have been telling our media contacts here. But, no, no incidents at the airport that we knew of, nothing that had been reported.
It looked like everything was fine, but the conditions were absolutely terrible. And then this plane skids off the runway, and now the FAA has shut down the airport until 6:00 tomorrow morning, Central Time. But it looks like that plane incident is the reason that the airport is now shut down. Maybe they were contemplating that.
Maybe they had limited the number of planes coming in, but that‘s what we are trying to figure out right now, just how many planes were allowed to land, and what kind of conditions were assessed on that runway before they could bring down this Southwest Airlines plane to at least to attempt to land on the longest runway here at Midway.
SCARBOROUGH: And, Michelle, again, just to—just to confirm from law enforcement authorities that you have spoken to and other people at the airport, again, all the people that were on that plane, to the best of your knowledge, despite the violent landing, are doing all right tonight?
KOSINSKI: Right, Joe, that‘s what authorities are saying.
One of the spokespeople for the Aviation Department said that they have all actually been taken off the plane already. And the fire department said that the chute on the plane, where people can slide out, was deployed as this plane was trying to stop, trying to brake, trying to veer away from any traffic or any other obstacles in its way.
But it looked like, according to the fire department, that the fire department officials that were on the ground were helping these people get off the plane using ladders. And the Aviation Department says that they have all been bused back to the terminal. And it looks like all 98 passengers and all five crew members are OK, and that‘s what we are hearing at this point.
SCARBOROUGH: Michelle, tell me about the—again, and I—about the investigation. What have you been hearing about the FAA investigation? Are they going to be holding a press conference tomorrow to talk about what happened?
KOSINSKI: There may be some information coming out as early as tonight. There has been a staging area set up, but so far, no hard information, nothing set up or organized at the airport itself.
In fact, it‘s just—it‘s a bad scene out there. There are—you can see fire trucks everywhere. The snow is still falling down hard. It‘s been coming down fast for hours and hours, so it‘s a pretty rough scene out there.
But now that it‘s been assessed that everybody on the plane is OK, they have all been taken off. The people who are in the one car, possibly two, that were hurt have been taken out of the scene. So now it just remains to try to figure out what has happened.
Also, the fire department spokesman told us that his department was trying to figure out what the conditions were on that runway, who had cleared it, was it OK for that plane to land. So, that‘s something he is looking into, and we have also been told by the aviation authority that the NTSB is going out there.
They are sending representatives there to investigate the actual incident, to see exactly why this plane skidded. The cause would be obvious, to look at the conditions out there, that there is snow coming down at an incredible rate. It‘s extremely cold, only about 24 degrees out there. Of course, icing and snow are going to be concerns at the airport and in the surrounding area.
But we don‘t know exactly what happened, what kind of contact that
pilot had with the airport, how the decision was made. And those are some
of the details that the investigators from a number of departments are
looking into as we speak, and that often takes at least a day or two to get
some real information as to, you know, exactly what the conditions were and
and how this all came to be.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Michelle Kosinski in Chicago, greatly appreciate the report. And we will be checking in with you throughout the hour with any additional breaking news.
And, again, you are looking right now at pictures of that Chicago Midway Airport. It‘s on the south side of Chicago, as Michelle said.
Earlier this evening, at 8:45 Eastern time, a 737 jet, a Southwest Airline jet, was upon approach Midway Airport. It actually—been vectored around the city of Chicago for some time, trying to get an opening to come in and land on the longest runway at the airport. Of course, snowstorms have been going in throughout the Midwest throughout the day.
In fact, people had been warned early this morning about approaching snowstorms in the Chicago area and across the entire Midwest. Now, the airport remained open tonight. And, unfortunately, again, as this car, as this plane approached the runway, it skidded on—on the runway and skidded off the runway, and actually ran into a street in Chicago, and caused injuries to an automobile that unfortunately was in its path when it came to a halt and pinned some people underneath there.
Now, no reports on the extent of the injuries in the car, but, again, authorities are telling us tonight that all 98 people on board Flight 1248 escaped without any injuries. And we will be following this story again throughout the hour.
We also have two other big stories tonight. In just minutes, you are going to be hearing directly from the family of George Smith IV. He is the missing honeymooner. It‘s a SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY exclusive.
Plus, John Lennon, I‘ll tell you what, a big hero of mine in the music world, was killed 25 years ago tonight. You are talking about a man who changed music, popular culture, and the world. And I was actually out across the street from—well, actually visited the Dakota apartment building and went into Central Park and into the area called Strawberry Fields.
And Beatle fans across the world have converged into that area. It‘s packed. And I can certainly tell you, anybody that remembers the tragic, tragic news that hit 25 years ago remembers that has been a scene of mourning over the past quarter-century.
But, tonight, the mood is extremely festive. We are going to be going back out there later on and also going to be talking to the doctor that was with John Lennon as he was dying in the emergency room. We will have that and much more.
But, first, earlier today, I went to Miami and sat down with the family of missing honeymooner George Smith, IV, and, for the first time, his parents and sister are publicly demanding answers, and they are sharing their stories about the young man whose death remains a mystery to that family and to all of us.
It touched off an international investigation.
For the very latest information in the case, let‘s go live to MSNBC‘s Lisa Daniels, also in New York. She has been following the story for SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY from the very beginning.
Lisa, good evening.
Get us up to date, because it‘s been quite some time since you went up to Greenwich and filed those remarkable reports about the Smiths, and, of course, Jennifer‘s family also. What—what can you tell us?
LISA DANIELS, NBC CORRESPONDENT: That‘s right, Joe.
It was a couple of months ago that we filed those reports on this show. And it‘s one of those stories you really can‘t forget, because of the characters involved, George Smith, the young man who seemed to have everything going for him. He was good-looking. He was polite. He was popular.
In fact, his friends called him the gentle giant, because, at 6‘2“, he was so imposing, yet, his friends say he was friendly to everyone. He had just married this beautiful, popular young woman from a nearby Connecticut town, Jen Hagel. And it seemed like these two had everything going for them in the world, Joe, until tragedy struck.
They go on their honeymoon, a cruise to the Mediterranean, and, while on the ship, George disappears. He just vanishes. And what is so odd is, nobody seems to know what happened to him. The only clue comes from a 12-year-old girl on the cruise. She apparently notices a bloody stain on part of the ship. And she thinks it‘s so bizarre that she snaps a picture.
Now, there are also reports that a bloody handprint was discovered on the ship as well. Other than that, as you know, Joe, because you interviewed them, we heard all sorts of stories from people on the cruise ships, some saying that they heard loud voices coming from George Smith‘s cabin the night he disappeared, others saying the opposite, that, no, it was actually quiet. They didn‘t hear a thing.
And what is even stranger, as part of our investigation for SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, as you mentioned, we went up to Greenwich, Connecticut, George‘s hometown. And people were extremely reluctant to speak to us on camera.
Then we went to Cromwell, Connecticut, Joe. And you will remember, people very reluctant to speak on camera, before George‘s family spoke out, which they didn‘t, of course, until now—Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, thanks so much, Lisa. Appreciate you getting us up to date.
And now we want to go ahead, as Lisa said, and talk about that SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY interview, that exclusive, the Smith family speaking to us first, speaking out about what happened.
Now, for five months, since their son and brother disappeared, they have maintained their silence. They said they didn‘t want to interfere with the investigation that the FBI was doing. And, for five months, we have heard about George Smith as the victim of the crime.
The party animal, that‘s, of course, what the cruise lines wanted you to think. It was such a mystery, though.
So, I sat down and talked to them. And I asked them, instead of the George Smith that the cruise industry wanted us to think existed, I asked them to tell me about the George Smith that they knew.
MAUREEN SMITH, MOTHER OF GEORGE SMITH IV: My son was one of the most loyal people that I have ever met in my life.
He just would not say a bad word about anybody. He was so loyal to his friends. He—I just can‘t say enough good things about him, because he was loyal to his parents, wasn‘t he? And he had the greatest sense of humor.
GEORGE SMITH III, FATHER OF GEORGE SMITH IV: That‘s right.
M. SMITH: And the driest, greatest sense of humor.
M. SMITH: He was just a lovely young man that we miss very much.
SCARBOROUGH: A dry, British sense of humor.
M. SMITH: Yes.
BREE SMITH, SISTER OF GEORGE SMITH IV: Yes.
SCARBOROUGH: Did he get that from you?
B. SMITH: Yes.
B. SMITH: A combination...
M. SMITH: And the Irish. And Irish, Irish thrown in there. But he was just—he—we can‘t say any wrong about him, because we don‘t have it. We don‘t have it. I don‘t think I have ever had an argument with him, over the life, if I had one or two arguments with him.
G. SMITH Yes.
M. SMITH: He was just that kind of person.
B. SMITH: Loved life.
G. SMITH Low-key, yes.
B. SMITH: Just a very happy and contented person.
He had so much to live for.
M. SMITH: Yes.
B. SMITH: You know, he had a new wife and a promising business to take over and a lovely apartment. He—there‘s just so much that he had going for him, and it‘s just a tragic loss for us all.
SCARBOROUGH: What‘s been the hardest part of this terrible ordeal?
M. SMITH: Not knowing.
G. SMITH The lack of information.
M. SMITH: Not knowing.
B. SMITH: That‘s right.
M. SMITH: Not knowing.
G. SMITH: Especially from the cruise line.
B. SMITH: Yes.
M. SMITH: We just don‘t know.
And you cling to a glimmer of hope that maybe he survived it, and he is out there, and, you know, he needs us. And then reality sets in, and you think, no, he couldn‘t possibly have survived it. But not knowing, I think, is the hardest thing.
B. SMITH: And it‘s in your mind constantly. If—you know, your mind thinks of a different thought. And then, all of a sudden, George will pop into your mind, and it just feels like you have been hit.
SCARBOROUGH: He stays with you all the time.
M. SMITH: oh, all the time.
B. SMITH: Yes. Yes.
M. SMITH: All the time, yes.
B. SMITH: And he just never leaves us.
SCARBOROUGH: And you talked about other parents being able to know what happened to a son or daughter they lose in a car accident...
M. SMITH: Right. Right.
SCARBOROUGH: ... and being able to go to the grave site and bury them.
M. SMITH: Right.
SCARBOROUGH: But, for you, not only...
M. SMITH: No.
SCARBOROUGH: ... do you not know where George is. You don‘t know what happened.
M. SMITH: No. No.
SCARBOROUGH: You don‘t know who did what to him.
M. SMITH: No.
M. SMITH: We don‘t know whether it was crew, whether it was passengers, whether it‘s a combination. We don‘t know anything. But...
B. SMITH: But we think that the FBI has a lot of good information.
M. SMITH: We do think the—yes.
B. SMITH: And they are 100 percent committed to this case.
M. SMITH: Yes.
B. SMITH: And we have been told they are not going to let it go.
G. SMITH: Until they solve it.
B. SMITH: And I believe they are going to come to an answer for us.
SCARBOROUGH: What—you talked about your son coming in and taking over your business. And, obviously, you have lived in Greenwich your whole life. He lived there his whole life. What is—is that one of the toughest parts for you, that you had planned that your whole life and...
M. SMITH: No.
G. SMITH: No, not really.
I—you know, I have been in business for over 20 years in Greenwich with my wine store. And I eventually planned to retire. But my son, a couple of years ago, came back to me and said, dad, I want to take over the business. So, I said, are you sure you want to get into retail business? You know, it‘s weekends and this and that? And he said, yes, I do. I really love it. I want to get into it. And we formed a very tight relationship between the two of us, even closer than before.
M. SMITH: We have been robbed. We have really been robbed, haven‘t we?
SCARBOROUGH: You have been robbed.
M. SMITH: We have.
SCARBOROUGH: You don‘t know who robbed you.
M. SMITH: No.
SCARBOROUGH: You don‘t know how you were robbed.
M. SMITH: No. No. Our lives will never be the same again, never.
SCARBOROUGH: And again, he is—he is with you all the time.
M. SMITH: Oh.
SCARBOROUGH: If you lose a son or daughter...
G. SMITH: It‘s for this reason, you know, we feel that Congress needs to make changes in the laws, so other families don‘t go through what we have to go through now and go through this suffering and the not knowing. And, every day, it‘s a struggle, but we are holding it together.
M. SMITH: For the first three months, we were just out of our minds, and we wouldn‘t have been able to do interviews anyway. But the FBI asked us to keep quiet, and we did.
But we wouldn‘t have been able to speak.
M. SMITH: We couldn‘t do anything. We were just...
G. SMITH: No, couldn‘t even talk.
B. SMITH: No.
M. SMITH: We couldn‘t do anything.
B. SMITH: But we think now is a good time to come out...
M. SMITH: Yes.
B. SMITH: ... because we want to provide our support to Congressman Christopher Shays on the hearing that will be held next week.
I just think there needs to be public awareness, because change is required. I don‘t think any other family should go through the hell we have been through. And I think now is the time for change, and that‘s what we are hopeful.
M. SMITH: Oh, sorry.
G. SMITH: No. Go ahead.
M. SMITH: I think the cruise lines have a very sinister underworld.
And we have been on lots of cruises, haven‘t we? And we loved them.
G. SMITH: And also on Royal Caribbean.
M. SMITH: And we never doubted, you know, that anything could happen to us. But what we are finding out, since this happened to George, it‘s just we would never set foot on another cruise ship.
SCARBOROUGH: Let‘s talk about Turkey for a second. When it—when it went in and they docked in Turkey, those officials were even complaining that they didn‘t have enough time...
M. SMITH: Right.
SCARBOROUGH: ... to conduct the investigation and talk to all the people.
B. SMITH: Right.
SCARBOROUGH: You saw the video we had of this chaotic scene of a kid and babies crying and all these things happening.
M. SMITH: Right.
B. SMITH: Right.
M. SMITH: They have a schedule, Joe, they have to keep. Onward.
SCARBOROUGH: Is that what they told you or...
M. SMITH: No. Well, we know, don‘t we?
B. SMITH: The cruise line hasn‘t told us anything.
M. SMITH: No. No.
B. SMITH: There‘s been a complete lack of information. And that‘s actually why our attorney, Bert Rifkin (ph), has sent a letter to the president of Royal Caribbean with a list of questions, because we have no information.
I understand why we are not given information from the FBI. That‘s sensitive. We don‘t want to interfere with the investigation. But Royal Caribbean should be providing us with information. And they have not up until this point.
M. SMITH: They wanted it to be a tragic accident.
And if my daughter hadn‘t pursued what she did in the beginning, getting in touch with Congressman Shays, the FBI, it would gone have down as a tragic accident.
SCARBOROUGH: You all were kept in the dark. I remember, from the very beginning, people were asking where you all were, and where Jennifer‘s family was.
M. SMITH: We did it for the FBI.
SCARBOROUGH: And I am just wondering, did you have—when these people would come on our show and talk about what happened that night, did you have information about that or that bloodstain? When‘s the first time you saw that bloodstain?
M. SMITH: Oh.
B. SMITH: I saw it for the first time when my parents were in Greece searching for George.
I saw it in “The Greenwich Time.” But I hadn‘t seen that before. At the beginning, we were not looking at the media. It was too difficult for us. We didn‘t start watching television until a certain amount of time had passed by. But we were learning information from your show, actually. So, I mean, that‘s—that‘s awful to have to depend on investigative reporters to find out information about my brother‘s death.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, what is so terrible is, you are sitting at home, learning about your son...
G. SMITH: And taking notes.
SCARBOROUGH: .... from a TV show.
B. SMITH: Right.
G. SMITH: Taking notes.
SCARBOROUGH: Which nobody—I never assumed that.
Nobody at the network assumed. You would think that the cruise lines or somebody else would have been keeping you informed and letting you know what was going on.
B. SMITH: No. They—before we broke contact with them, it was no news, no news. We were never even informed that the Turkish authorities were investigating George‘s death.
M. SMITH: When did we get the call? (INAUDIBLE) call from Lynn Martenstein?
B. SMITH: Yes.
M. SMITH: Yes.
B. SMITH: In—that was in early September.
We had a call from Lynn Martenstein at Royal Caribbean, who I believe has given statements to your show. And she had not been in touch with us previously. And she left a message on our answering machine at home, saying that she had been on “A Current Affair,” and she wanted to tell us about the show she would be on the following week.
Never, I‘m sorry about your loss; you know, we are very disappointed that there haven‘t been any arrests made, just concerned about their media image.
M. SMITH: Not sorry, nothing. Very cold voice, wasn‘t it?
B. SMITH: It‘s a matter of business for them.
M. SMITH: Yes. It‘s business.
B. SMITH: We are an insurance liability for them.
M. SMITH: Image. Image. Yes.
B. SMITH: It‘s—my brother and my parents‘ son is nothing but money.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, they are such wonderful people.
Again, I—you just—you felt—you just felt the pain when you‘re sitting there with them, such a loss. And, again, the worst part of it is, they can‘t have closure because the cruise industry is really, in my opinion, has been working overtime, not to get at the truth, but just to protect themselves, just, again, a very tragic situation.
We have got more of that interview that we are going to be showing you tomorrow night, along with their attorney. I had a long interview with him. And we are going to continue talking and—and showing you those clips up until the hearing in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.
I will be there. And we will cover it—and going to keep the pressure on the cruise industry, not only for George Smith, for justice for George, but also justice for other people that have been injured, abused, raped, assaulted on these cruises when they go out there. And then these crimes, unfortunately—again, in my opinion, it seems that these crimes may have been covered up.
Now, the Smith family has set up an e-mail address for anybody that may have information about what happened to George that night. They said if you were afraid to come forward before, you can write this e-mail address confidentially. The address is justiceforGeorge@AOL.com.
Now let‘s go back to Chicago and get an update. Let‘s get to Michelle Kosinski.
Michelle, we have got—we can see the front of that plane and see the nose as it‘s knocked down.
SCARBOROUGH: Get us up to date with what‘s going on in Chicago.
KOSINSKI: Well, that airport has been shut down, Midway Airport, where, you know, conditions were really bad before this happened, and the airports were having problems.
Now we know there were some 400 flights canceled in Chicago between Midway Airport and O‘Hare Airport, which is the larger one, also in the city. Midway is on the south side of Chicago, smaller airport, smaller runways—shorter runways I should say, rather, and a little bit less traffic, but still a very busy city airport.
Also, there were delays of two to four hours, but this plane was trying to land on the longest runway at Midway. We are also getting some new information in about the victims.
We know, as—according to the aviation authority here in Chicago, that nobody on the plane, according to them, was hurt. All 98 passengers and five crew members got out safely. The fire department said they helped out, got them out of that plane with ladders, and then bussed them back to the terminals.
But there were five people hurt in cars that were at that intersection where the plane skidded off the runway, went through a fence, and then slammed into traffic—five people hurt, ranging in age, according to a hospital official, an infant to an adult in their 30s. Four men and one woman were hurt in this, all of them in cars.
Also, as you might have seen from the video, where that plane ended up, there is a car pinned under the plane. That is what happened at the time of the crash. And the plane was up against a pole. The fire department‘s also reporting possibly one other car involved in this, looked like it had minor damage on it. And the fire department, at that time—remember, this happened about quarter after 7:00.
About an hour ago, the fire department was giving us some information that they believed at least two people were seriously hurt, and they thought both of them were in the first car that was pinned under the plane.
But all that information is being figured out right now, but we do know that five victims were taken to the hospital, and according to the Aviation Department, none of them were people on board that plane.
Southwest Airlines Flight 737 coming in from Baltimore, apparently having some trouble landing. There was a holding pattern, trying to land, and then ending up skidding off that runway—Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Thank you so much, Michelle.
And, as we look at these pictures, you can only be grateful that people on that plane weren‘t injured. Certainly, many of us remember when this happened a few years back at Boston‘s Logan Airport—and it happens from time to time—and, usually in those instances, somebody is injured on the airplane. Tonight, though, again, the only reports of injuries coming out of Chicago at this hour are those people that were actually driving in their automobiles, going down the road, probably worrying about the snowy, icy condition, and then getting the shock of their life, a terrible situation, having a plane, a 737, Southwest Airlines plane going off the runway, blasting through the fence and slamming into the cars and pinning one automobile underneath the nose of that airplane.
If we have any more breaking news coming up through the hour, we will certainly bring it to you.
Also, when we come back, thousands are gathering right now in Central Park, right by me, on this 25th-year anniversary of the passing of John Lennon. You are looking at a shot from the helicopter over Central Park, an area any—any John Lennon fans knows called Strawberry Fields.
And it is—and, unlike 25 years ago, and, even—gosh, even 15 years ago, there‘s no mourning there tonight. There are people with a candlelight vigil who are singing his songs and celebrating the life of this man, who not only changed music, but changed the world—that and much more when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: You are looking right now at a shot of a 737 Southwest Airlines plane that, at approximately—the reports we have, approximately 8:45 Eastern time, came in for a landing after circling around Midway, Chicago‘s Midway Airport for some time to avoid snowstorms that had been predicted for quite some time throughout the day, to avoid those snowstorms, landed, brought in on the longest runway at Midway Airport, still could not stop in time before it skidded off the runway, rammed through a fence, and pinned, actually pinned an automobile underneath that plane, five people injured, including one infant. They have been hospitalized.
I want to go, though, right now to our phone line and speak with Sean Gallick. He was actually a passenger on that plane.
Sean, if you could, tell us what happened.
SEAN GALLICK, PASSENGER ON SOUTHWEST FLIGHT 1248: It was a very scary, very scary incident. Everything kind of happened in a—very quickly, just a lot of commotion and a lot of people were panicking on the plane.
And as soon as we hit the ground, and the plane skidded, and everyone kind of went all over the place, it was—I don‘t know. It was a very traumatic experience. And it just happened so quick, I really can‘t remember any, you know, significant details of it.
SCARBOROUGH: Sean, can you remember going through the fence? At what point did you realize that this was not going to be a normal landing; you were not going to stop at the end of the runway, but instead crash through a fence and go onto a highway?
GALLICK: Honestly, when we were going down, it seemed like we might be able to make it, it would be a smooth landing, and, then, all of a sudden, the plane must have hit a patch of ice and just took off.
It happened in a second.
SCARBOROUGH: You had no warning, though, coming in? You thought it was going to be a normal flight?
SCARBOROUGH: Now, when you hit the patch of ice, again, did it register to you, or, again, did everything happen so quickly, you just didn‘t realize until the plane ground to a stop?
GALLICK: Honestly, a lot of this is all like—a lot of what really happened is kind of all news to me, because it happened really just in a split-second, it seemed like...
SCARBOROUGH: Sean, after you guys came to a stop at—in the intersection, what happened next?
GALLICK: Oh, the pilot came on the P.A. address and just addressed the plane.
And people were panicking. The flight attendants were trying to help as many people as they could, but there was just way too much commotion.
SCARBOROUGH: Did you go out—did you jump off, get off there on the chutes that were deployed out the side? Is that how everybody evacuated?
GALLICK: Yes. Yes.
SCARBOROUGH: And then what did you do? Were you told to run away from the plane in case it blew up?
GALLICK: Yes. We took off.
All right, Sean, we greatly appreciate you being with us. Glad everybody on the plane is safe.
As far as you know, Sean, nobody was injured on the plane, right?
GALLICK: No, not that I know of. I know the paramedics were looking at some people, but I think everyone was fine.
SCARBOROUGH: What were the conditions? I am just curious about this, because it just strikes me, if any city should be prepared, if any airport should be prepared for a snowstorm, it would be an airport in Chicago in the month of December. Can you tell me how bad the conditions were when you got off the plane? Was it—were you in the middle of a snowstorm, or was it...
GALLICK: Yes. It was terrible. It was some of the worst weather I have seen around here in a while.
And I hate to cut you off, but I really got to go, OK?
SCARBOROUGH: OK, Sean. Thank you so much. Greatly appreciate you being with us.
SCARBOROUGH: And God bless you.
GALLICK: All right. Thank you.
SCARBOROUGH: Michelle Kosinski, let me bring you in and ask you the same question I was asking Sean.
It would seem to me, I mean, anybody that‘s lived in Chicago will tell you it‘s—the weather is some of the worst weather in America for a major city. Once it‘s December, from December through March, April, it‘s like a frozen tundra up there.
KOSINSKI: Right. It is.
SCARBOROUGH: How could they not be prepared for these type of incidences?
KOSINSKI: Well, there are a lot of questions out there.
Obviously the aviation authority pays attention to this. We knew the snow was coming since yesterday. We knew that it would be at least five inches. And, you know, meteorologists were predicting almost exactly the time that it would start falling that it did. It started around 2:30 this afternoon, really got bad around 4:00 in the afternoon.
And we know that, earlier in the day, there were problems with the airports, some 400 flights canceled, according, again, to the aviation authority. And that‘s between Midway Airport and the larger O‘Hare Airport, which is closer to downtown Chicago. And there were delays of two to four hours.
But obviously the airports were functioning. Now, to be in Chicago and to look out the window, just a layman, not affiliated with the airport, and see how hard that snow was coming down and the difficulty traffic was having, I couldn‘t believe that planes were coming in.
But that‘s just, you know, a person‘s assessment of the weather. Obviously, the experts at the airport make that decision. And we have seen airports shut down in wind conditions without any precipitation at all. We have seen them shut down in fog. So, somebody made the assessment that it was OK for planes to land.
But there might have been some limitation as to the runways, because, according to some of the passengers who were talking to reporters on the ground, there was this holding pattern. There was quite a bit of time that this plane was circling, and then they had it land at the longest runway at the airport.
It‘s possible that it was originally planned to land somewhere else. Maybe they were saving that long runway. So, those are the questions that we are going to have for the airport authority and for the other officials down at the scene.
We know that they are going to be talking to people who have those questions some time tonight. But, yes, the conditions were terrible. The visibility was a quarter-of-a-mile. We know that.
And people were worried about driving in it. And when you see that picture of a tiny car next to a huge airplane, you can only imagine what that was like, to see that thing coming at you on the road.
SCARBOROUGH: No doubt about it.
Michelle Kosinski in Chicago, thank you so much.
And, obviously, we are going to keep coming back to you to get updates.
Now, let‘s move from Chicago‘s Midway Airport to Central Park in New York City. You are looking at a live shot right now, 10:36 p.m. Eastern Time, almost—we are coming up on almost the exact moment 25 years later John Lennon got gunned down outside of his apartment.
I remember where I was. I mean, I was a guy that—I don‘t think I had bought any record other than Beatles records and Beatles solo records since throughout all of high school, and just a huge Beatles fan. This is a night that unfortunately I will always remember. So many of us remember exactly where we were 25 years ago tonight.
I was watching “Monday Night Football” when Howard Cosell came on and delivered the terrible news.
But, tonight, John Lennon was remembered all over the world, especially here in New York City. It‘s a city, of course, that John Lennon had adopted as his own, as he was fighting to get his green card throughout the 1970s.
Let‘s go live to NBC‘s Michelle Franzen, who has been in the Strawberry Fields section of Central Park today, across from the Dakotas, with legions of Beatles fans and fans of John Lennon.
Michelle, get us up to date with what‘s going on right now.
MICHELLE FRANZEN, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Joe.
We have been out here all day long. It‘s been a steady stream of fans, and, as you can see behind me, there is a wait to get into Strawberry Fields at this hour, about an hour-and-a-half wait. But, as you mentioned, we were only moments away before that candlelight vigil begins. And that will mark two moments; 10:50 marks the time when John Lennon was shot and killed 25 years ago. The candle will stay lit until 11:15.
That was the exact time John Lennon was pronounced dead.
Earlier today, John Lennon‘s widow, Yoko Ono, made a quick and surprise visit out here to Central Park. She walked in, laid a flower at that mosaic that says “Imagine.” And then she quietly walked away.
And thousands of people have poured in and out of here all day long. They are singing. They are silently reflective. We have even had some people crying, still mourning the loss after all these years, so still a very emotional day, but also a day filled with some happiness and remembrances of what John Lennon‘s legacy leaves—Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, thank you so much, Michelle Franzen, live in Central Park West right now. Appreciate the report.
And, you know, you look—again, you look at those images of those people, and, again, 25 years ago, not only this day, but for the next week or two, it was just such a dark, terrible time for anybody that loved music, that loved John Lennon, that loved the Beatles, that loved what transpired in popular music in the ‘60s and ‘70s.
But, today, I would guess that John Lennon would be pleased that there‘s a bit of a festive atmosphere there, people singing his songs, guitarists all over, and crowds spontaneously bursting out into singing and applause, people holding hands, young children being held over heads, one that I talked to with a “Yellow Submarine” cap on, so many young kids out there that weren‘t even alive when John Lennon was so senselessly killed 25 years ago—and what a terrible, terrible time.
And Dr. Stephan Lynn was actually a part of that time. He was home after a long shift in the emergency room when he was called back to New York‘s Roosevelt Hospital to handle a gunshot victim who was being brought in by the police.
This guy had no idea—he was a 33-year-old doctor. He had no idea at the time that he would soon be operating on John Lennon. I spoke with Dr. Lynn earlier. And I asked him to recall that tragic night.
DR. STEPHAN LYNN, TREATED JOHN LENNON IN EMERGENCY ROOM: We didn‘t initially know it was John Lennon, and, in fact, we weren‘t certain at all. We didn‘t think it was John Lennon. We didn‘t know who it was before we started.
What we knew was we had a patient with no blood pressure, no pulse, no breathing, no vital signs. And, as an emergency physician, I knew what to do. My colleagues knew what to do. It was only a few minutes later, when we took identification out of his pocket, we found his name. Some of the nurses chuckled, because they couldn‘t believe that‘s who we were dealing with.
About a minute later, Yoko Ono walked in, and we knew exactly who we were dealing with.
SCARBOROUGH: Tell us about the state he was in and how quickly you knew that you were fighting a losing battle.
LYNN: We literally had to do an operation in the emergency department. All of these things were to gain him that extra one-tenth of a percent.
We opened his chest. We found a large amount of blood. But we also found that all of the blood vessels leaving his heart had been totally destroyed. I literally held his heart in my hand. I pumped it. We tried to restore circulation. We tried to restore blood flow. We knew quite early that the chances were small.
After about 25 minutes, we knew that our attempts were futile, and we pronounced John Lennon dead.
SCARBOROUGH: And when Lennon was brought in, describe the scene actually after you pronounced him dead, and you had to go out and break this terrible news to his wife.
LYNN: I knew what I needed to say, but I couldn‘t have expected what happened.
She completely refused to accept what had happened. She was with him. She knew that he had been shot. She knew that he was critically injured, but she said: He‘s not dead. You‘re lying. Tell me it‘s a lie. It can‘t be true.
And this went on for several minutes. It was almost unbelievable. And equally unbelievable, almost immediately, she flipped out of this, and said to me, Dr. Lynn, my son is sitting at home. He is probably in front of the TV set. Please delay the announcement. I don‘t want him to learn his father has been killed by watching TV.
SCARBOROUGH: I remember, the next night, Walter Cronkite devoted about 95 percent of his evening news program to John Lennon‘s death.
But you had to go out in front of the world as a 33-year-old doctor and tell them that a pop icon, perhaps the biggest pop icon in the world, had just been killed. Talk about those moments.
LYNN: When I stood in front of the press that evening, I walked into a room and literally looked at about 200 or 300 hundred TV cameras and radio microphones pointing in my direction. It almost took my breath away. I didn‘t know what to do. I was very nervous.
I hesitated for a moment. I put my hands out, my head down. I asked for the crowd to become silent. And I spoke.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, DECEMBER 8, 1980)
LYNN: John Lennon was brought to the emergency room at the Roosevelt site, Saint Luke‘s-Roosevelt Hospital this evening, shortly before 11:00 p.m. He was dead on arrival.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: And after you spoke and delivered the news, you actually went back and talked to your nurses, and other staff that were around, and you—you wanted to sanitize the scene, so to speak. Tell us what you did and why you did that.
LYNN: The nurses were distraught. Some of the physicians were crying. We sat. We talked. We decompressed that evening.
We spoke with each other, but I had to interrupt that difficult moment and say some strange things. I had to say, make certain that every piece of linen and laundry that was in this room that has any of John Lennon‘s blood on it is particularly taken care of, put in a special bundle.
Make certain that any of your uniforms that have blood stains are taken home and cleaned. They cannot be given away. They cannot be sold. We made certain that the medical record that evening was sealed and placed in a vault by the hospital.
To my knowledge, that medical record has never seen the light of day. I don‘t know what it is. We made certain that everything that was in that room remained private, did not become public. We wanted to protect the confidentiality of John Lennon.
SCARBOROUGH: Tell me what John Lennon meant to you before the event, and how this event has changed your life.
LYNN: He was a member of my community. I knew him as a member of my community.
I felt a great loss. It‘s almost impossible for me to imagine that 25 years has passed. It seems like yesterday. I remember most of what happened on that day very well. But now I have a different perspective. I know that John Lennon was not only a musician, but he was a thinker and a philosopher. He had ideas. He was for peace. He was against war.
I wonder on frequent occasions what might have happened had he stayed out to dinner longer, had he entered the house from the back, rather than from the front, had he avoided those bullets. Would the world be a different place today? I have the sense that it may have been.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Doctor, thank you so much for being with us tonight. We really do appreciate it.
LYNN: My pleasure.
SCARBOROUGH: And, when we come back, incredible stories about John Lennon from people who know firsthand.
And, of course, we are coming up on the exact moment 25 years ago where he passed away.
We will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SID BERNSTEIN, BROUGHT BEATLES TO UNITED STATES: And here we are, 25 years later, and doing the same things, still talking about them.
BERNSTEIN: But, you know, John made all of this possible.
Now I met you.
SCARBOROUGH: That‘s big.
BERNSTEIN: And I can tell you...
SCARBOROUGH: To stop being so conservative.
BERNSTEIN: Stop being so darn conservative.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Welcome back.
You are looking live at Central Park, one minute away from the exact time John Lennon, reports came out that he passed away, which is right now. He passed away 25 years ago tonight, a terrible night.
I am joined by Ben Fong-Torres. He‘s former “Rolling Stone” senior editor.
Ben, as we look at these images, first of all, tell me how you learned the news 25 years ago. And also talk about why, 25 years later, this man still is having such an impact on people‘s lives.
BEN FONG-TORRES, FORMER “ROLLING STONES” SENIOR EDITOR: You know, I was at home in San Francisco at the time that I heard the news through media, and then the phone began to ring all night long, with people from media, calling to ask about it and for my comments.
At the time, I was still involved with “Rolling Stone” magazine, where John was the first cover subject, such as it was, for our newspaper format. But he was there and he was there often in “Rolling Stone.” And, so, he meant a lot to us at the magazine.
And, 25 years later, you know, I—I choose not to mark these kind of anniversaries. I prefer to think back to 40-some years ago, when I first saw the Beatles, first heard them on the radio, and first knew that the world had changed.
SCARBOROUGH: And tell me—tell me, for—actually, for like my son, a 17-year-old musician, a guy that loves the Beatles, he can understand why the music is so important, but he can‘t begin to understand how John Lennon and the Beatles changed the world.
Talk to him and other young people. How can a rock band change the world? It seems unthinkable today.
TORRES: It seems unthinkable, but they did, and they were the ones who came along and just reset everything.
They—they changed the rules. They showed what could happen from one charismatic group of young guys. And it was more than just being teen idols. They had something to say. They were witty. They were brash. They were soon political. They loved to break the rules, extend the boundaries that were set forth in the recording studios. They—they were the first of their kind, and they were part of a new generation. And they helped to define and introduce what we came to know as the ‘60s.
SCARBOROUGH: And Leonard Bernstein said they had a certain coolness about them that I—I cannot repeat on the air.
Allan Tannenbaum, you‘re a photojournalist. Obviously, that—you took shots of John Lennon, remarkable photos. And we are going to show some tonight that haven‘t been seen before. Talk about the John Lennon that you got to know taking pictures of him.
ALLAN TANNENBAUM, PHOTOJOURNALIST: Well, I first met John in 1975, when he was taping a special, a salute to Lew Grade.
And, ultimately, that turned out to be his last performance. And, then in 1980, November 21 and November 26, I had some photo sessions with John and Yoko. And I just found him to be extraordinary. He was always somebody that I admired, whose music I loved, who I respected as an artist.
And when I met him and got to spend time with him, I found out that he was just a regular guy, very funny, very witty, and made you feel like you were just old, best friends.
SCARBOROUGH: A regular guy. It‘s amazing, again, for a guy that changed music and the world.
But you saw him about a week-and-a-half or so before his death. Obviously, so many people wanted to know what he was really like. He had been gone for five years. He quit music. He basically quit everything to be a full-time father. Talk about the John and Yoko that you saw a week before his death.
TANNENBAUM: Well, I could say unequivocally that they were very much in love.
I saw them really as a unit. Most of my photographs are of them together. And they were really having a good time. It seemed to me that John had really found himself after these five years of seclusion. He had conquered his demons. And they were enthusiastic and optimistic, and I could tell that—that great things were about to happen.
SCARBOROUGH: And they were inseparable. And, I mean, isn‘t it something that all of these shots—you know, Beatle fans always wanted to see John and wanted to see the Beatles reunite.
But what John wanted, obviously, was being with his wife. And you could see that, that he was a very happy man. You can see that in your images, can‘t you?
TANNENBAUM: Oh, I think so.
And he—he seemed to be really happy. And he was having a good time. They were really enjoying what they were doing. And I think that just comes through with the photos, the photos I did of them in the Central Park, their favorite place, the photos at the Dakota, and especially while they were filming the video for “Starting Over,” and to go with the release of the “Double Fantasy” album.
Alan Weiss, you are a TV producer that—actually, you were in the hospital when John Lennon was brought in. Tell us about what you saw.
ALAN WEISS, TELEVISION PRODUCER: Well, I was laying on a gurney in the hallway, and the doctor was about to examine me when, suddenly, the door slammed opened.
And an officer ran in screaming, we have a gunshot, gunshot in the chest. And then the door slammed open a second time, and four, six police officers came trotting down the hallway with a stretcher between them.
And they put the stretcher into the room that I was lying outside of. Because I had banged my head, my senses were a little shaky, and I closed my eyes. Two of the officers came out and they were standing over my gurney.
And one said to the other, can you believe it, John Lennon?
I wasn‘t sure I heard correctly. And I tried to get confirmation.
The police wouldn‘t talk to me. Obviously, none of the medical staff had time for me. But when I heard sobbing, and I turned around and I saw that Yoko Ono was being led in on the arms of a police officer, I knew for sure that it was John Lennon.
And I was able to get to a telephone, call Channel 7 Eyewitness News, and they were able to relay the information to ABC network, who confirmed the report, and then passed it on to Howard Cosell, who broke it during “Monday Night Football.”
SCARBOROUGH: Which is, of course, where I—I learned about it and so many other Lennon fans learned about it—terrible, tragic time.
But, gentlemen, thank you so much for being with us.
We are going to be right back and go back to Strawberry Fields forever when we return.
SCARBOROUGH: Tucker Carlson will have all the breaking news out of Chicago‘s Midway Airport, where a 737 airplane crashed through a fence, slammed into a highway, and pinned a car underneath it.
That‘s coming up in a few minutes. Stay with us. We will be right back.
SCARBOROUGH: Fans from around the world will be in Central Park tonight in Strawberry Fields, celebrating the life and the music of John Lennon.
That‘s all the time we have for tonight. Let‘s go to Tucker Carlson now and get the very latest in the situation about that plane crash in Chicago.
Tucker, what‘s the situation at Midway Airport right now?
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, “THE SITUATION WITH TUCKER CARLSON”: Thanks, Joe. We will tell you.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.