NBC’s Kerry Sanders Recklessly Wanders into the Ocean During a Hurricane; ‘Here Comes More Water!’

Here at NewsBusters, Florida-based NBC News correspondent Kerry Sanders has had quite the record over the years (and especially recently) of creating unintentionally humorous and viral moments ranging from trying to talk inside a gun range to misidentifying alligators. Needless to say, Hurricane Matthew has bred another slew of memories that, thanks to the internet, will live on forever. 

In two instances during MSNBC’s Friday afternoon coverage of the hurricane, Sanders twice left viewers scratching their heads and wondering about his safety. The first case came in the 1:00 p.m. Eastern hour that was highlighted by our friends at the Washington Free Beacon as he explained that his crew’s SUV was out of gas. 

“I understand you had to stop. You are out of gas? What’s the deal,” MSNBC host Hallie Jackson wondered before Sanders confirmed it and explained there’s no way to pump gas because all pumps are shut off for safety reasons.

Somehow, Sanders admitted in the same shot that he and his crew were still going to drive to Jacksonville Beach. Of course, this led to the second highlight reel moment as Sanders made it to the beach just after 2:00 p.m. Eastern and spent over five minutes hugging palm trees while the life-threatening storm surge barreled through them.

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Sanders repeatedly warned his camera crew to stay back and even hyped the possibility that he, his cameraman, or soundman could be knocked down by a piece of “heavy wood” or the surf, but he ignored his own concerns to continue wandering down to the oceanfront. 

“We are not going to stay here too long because, clearly, the storm surge is coming in. The high tide is right about now, so you’ve got the combination of the hurricane force winds coming. You have the high tides and then you have the winds that are coming in perfectly time for all of this,” Sanders exclaimed at the start of his live shot.

Moments later and still in danger of being carried out to sea, Sanders again promised that they’d be leaving shortly: “In fact, the area we’re in here right now is going to be a place where we are evacuating very shortly because this water continues to come in. I am going to see if we can move ourselves just a little bit. Just a little bit this way.” 

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Host Craig Melvin briefly interjected to tell Sanders to “be careful,” but he didn’t respond and continued to play the role of Captain Obvious:

There’s not much high ground here, quite frankly, so — this all gets broken up by the rising water that come right through here, so we’ve sort of timed this in the time that we are waiting here. Don't go out too far, come on Bill, let’s go back over here. I don’t want you to get too far out there because it really comes through here and this is all tied to the winds....So that is storm surge and it is going to be getting worse. So, for our safety, we are going to retreat, pull back, but now you sort of see what storm surge is at its earliest stages. 

The NBC News crew finally retreated and again the issue of whether they had gas to drive any further arose: 

So, we recognize where we are. We also recognize why we need to leave, so we’re going to start making our way out of here, getting back to our safe distance which is our vehicle which has just enough gas to pull us back to a safe location but clearly we are going to see more of this today and it’s just going to get worse...So, just take a look at the debris field down here from some of the water that's washed in. You can see way off in the distance there’s our car and guys, lets walk closely here, I want to make sure there’s no nails or anything as we make our way out here. 

The relevant portion of the transcript from the 2:00 p.m. Eastern hour of MSNBC Live on October 7 can be found below.

MSNBC Live
October 7, 2016
2:00 p.m. Eastern

KERRY SANDERS: Craig, we’ve made our way here to Jacksonville Beach and this is the actually storm surge. Look right here. You can see it coming in right here. This is the storm surge, it’s broken through this area right here where there is the dunes. We are not going to stay here too long because, clearly, the storm surge is coming in. The high tide is right about now, so you’ve got the combination of the hurricane force winds coming. You have the high tides and then you have the winds that are coming in perfectly time for all of this and we’ve seen it and here and we are going to stop for a second and just take a look here for a second again and you’ll see as I bring you around here, take a look. Here you can see, this is — what they call the storm surge and there is the power of the water. You see there is debris in there that's coming straight through and if we look over here, we can see a little bit is breaking in to the sand right in this area of the dunes right here, so this is why the authorities were saying people who look to the south and saw what didn’t appear to be a storm surge that they should not feel safe. In fact, the area we’re in here right now is going to be a place where we are evacuating very shortly because this water continues to come in. I am going to see if we can move ourselves just a little bit. Just a little bit this way. 

CRAIG MELVIN: Be careful, Ker. 

SANDERS: There’s not much high ground here, quite frankly, so — this all gets broken up by the rising water that come right through here, so we’ve sort of timed this in the time that we are waiting here. Don't go out too far, come on Bill, let’s go back over here. I don’t want you to get too far out there because it really comes through here and this is all tied to the winds. The interesting thing is as the wind are picking up and the tide’s is just ever so slightly going out, we’re seeing that wall of water building up higher and higher, you can see here comes some more water right here. There you go. See how it comes in and we’re going to come over here — and there you go. So that is storm surge and it is going to be getting worse. So, for our safety, we are going to retreat, pull back, but now you sort of see what storm surge is at its earliest stages. 

MELVIN: Kerry, you know what? Kerry, quickly before I let you out of here. It looks like some sort of buildings. Are those buildings protected? I mean, are we talking about sandbags? Are they boarded up? 

SANDERS: I am sorry Craig, try one more time. I can kind of hear you. 

MELVIN: Those — those buildings behind you that you were just showing me a second ago, sandbags in front of them, are those buildings protected? 

SANDERS: You’re asking me if there’s any sandbags? I don't see any sandbags if there ever was any. We have got a lot of debris here and that's part of the initial danger for us because that is heavy wood, but the water picks it up because mother nature strengthening in the ocean is tremendous and a log like that gets up, hits me, knocks me down, knocks Bill Angeluci down, knocks Chris our soundman down and the next thing you know, we'll have a broken leg or something. So, we recognize where we are. We also recognize why we need to leave, so we’re going to start making our way out of here, getting back to our safe distance which is our vehicle which has just enough gas to pull us back to a safe location but clearly we are going to see more of this today and it’s just going to get worse because it’s all tied with the combination of the direction of the wind. You see the wind is coming from the ocean now. When it was down south, it was coming from the shores, so we have the winds is coming in and we have the high tides and hurricane eye wall which is just down there and all of that results in the storm surge with it that comes in here. So, just take a look at the debris field down here from some of the water that's washed in. You can see way off in the distance there’s our car and guys, lets walk closely here, I want to make sure there’s no nails or anything as we make our way out here. 

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