tv 60 Minutes CBS July 18, 2021 7:00pm-8:00pm PDT
that's what we're made for. usaa. what you're made of, we're made for. get a quote today. >> with cruel isolation and outrageous speed, covid-19 has become the nation's third leading killer. the vaccine campaign offers hope, but for the families of the more than 600,000 dead, there's no medicine for the pain. people are talking about, "isn't it going to be great when this is over." and it occurs to me that, for a lot of people in this country, it will never be over. >> what is normal? normal is not a thing for a lot of us anymore. ( ticking ) >> in the model, we put things
like... >> many adults with autism are unemployed, or work in low-skill positions. but, as you will see tonight... >> i think my greatest skill is, i see things differently from other people. >> ...that may be changing. >> dan may be too modest to tell you, but he is the inventor of record of this platform. and nasa has licensed it. >> nasa is using filtergraph? >> yes. >> that you invented? >> yes. ( ticking ) >> tonight, a story of solidarity, hope, and ultimately survival in the face of adversity. it took place more than 50 years ago, but when it was rediscovered last year, it caused a sensation. it's a tale of a group of schoolboys stranded on a remote and deserted island for more than 15 months. >> it was hard. and i always pray god and, and i promise him, "if you could get me back, i'll serve you." ( ticking )
>> i'm lesley stahl. >> i'm bill whitaker. >> i'm anderson cooper. >> i'm scott pelley. those stories, tonight, on "60 minutes." those stories, tonight, on "60 minutes." ( ticking )s. now, there's skyrizi. ♪ things are getting clearer. ♪ ♪ i feel free to bare my skin yeah, that's all me. ♪ ♪ nothing and me go hand in hand nothing on my skin, ♪ ♪ that's my new plan. ♪ ♪ nothing is everything. ♪ achieve clearer skin with skyrizi. 3 out of 4 people achieved 90% clearer skin at 4 months. of those, nearly 9 out of 10 sustained it through 1 year. and skyrizi is 4 doses a year, after 2 starter doses. ♪ i see nothing in a different way it's my moment ♪ ♪ so i just gotta say... ♪ ♪ nothing is everything. ♪ skyrizi may increase your risk of infections before treatment, your doctor should check you for infections and tuberculosis. tell your doctor if you have an infection or symptoms such as fevers, sweats, chills, muscle aches, or coughs
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(other money manager) so when do you make more money? only when your clients make more money? (judith) yep, we do better when our clients do better. at fisher investments we're clearly different. >> scott pelley: more than half of eligible americans have been vaccinated against covid-19, and theresult seems miraculous. at the beginning of this year,
the u.s. suffered as many as 300,000 new infections a day. six months later, known infections had fallen more than 90%. the good news, of course, can never change the fact that more than 600,000 americans have died, leaving behind millions of bereaved families. as we first told you in january, while the grieving loved ones did not die, they lost their lives-- the lives they had so carefully planned. ( cheers and applause ) tim branscomb opened a tiny box and released a cheer. on a cruise in september 2019, lauren thomas collapsed into his arms, in part because he actually did get the ring she sent him in a picture. >> lauren thing him, like, "you know, if you ever want to propose, like, these are rings that i like." >> pelley: how did you meet? >> thomas: we actually met in
high school. he was always looking for me, and i was always running the other way. later on, we reconnected on facebook, and i realized, like, okay, you know... >> pelley: tim, a 32-year-old security guard, and lauren, a chicago health insurance administrator, set their date: december 2021. >> thomas: i called him teddy, because he was just like a big teddy bear. he called me kitty. he was a big guy, 6'7", like, 417 pounds. on the surface it's, like, wow, oh, that's a big scary guy. but then, when you go to know him, like, "oh, you're just so cuddly." >> pelley: but last year, when doctors were struggling to understand treatment, the big man fell hard, after six days in the hospital. >> thomas: i got a call. and it was a doctor, and i just heard, like, all these, like, machines going off. like, all these beeps. and she was asking me to have his mom call, because it was an emergency. >> pelley: tim's kidneys were failing.
>> thomas: then, a few minutes later, like, the doctor called back. when she called that time, it was quiet. the machines had stopped, the beeping had stopped. you could tell the room was quiet. so, i knew, like, it was real. he was gone. >> pelley: two weeks before, she picked flowers for the wedding. now she was choosing funeral wreaths. >> thomas: i had to contact our wedding venue and let them know, like, "hey, he passed away. there won't be a wedding." and i had to get that deposit back from them, and then in turn contribute that money to his burial. >> pelley: tell me about tim's funeral. >> thomas: i don't even refer to it as a funeral, because he couldn't even have, like, a proper, decent funeral. it was just a viewing. >> pelley: because of the pandemic. >> thomas: and that's, like, what hurts me the most. because he was so personable, he was so charitable, he was so
warm, and yet, he had to die alone on a ventilator and couldn't even get a proper celebration of his life. >> pelley: with cruel isolation and outrageous speed, covid has become the nation's third leading killer. cancer and heart disease kill more, but they don't attack entire families at once. in march last year, andy phillips, a pennsylvania sales executive, went into the hospital as his wife, trish, and their four children suffered at home. >> colin phillips: body aches, migraines, vomiting; everything. and then, two days after my dad went in, i went into the hospital. >> pelley: trish, you had andy and colin in the hospital at the same time, and you must've thought you could've lost them both? >> trish phillips: yeah. and my father-in-law was in the hospital, too. >> pelley: andy's father? >> trish phillips: andy's father passed away from covid on april 28.
>> pelley: and then andy passed? >> trish phillips: may 31. >> pelley: andy phillips was a six-day-a-week runner. and he passed away at what age? >> trish phillips: he turned 53 the week before. >> pelley: he endured the marathon in the hospital for 65 days. weeks later, trish received a hefty envelope in the mail. >> trish phillips: it was addressed to andy. it was an itemized bill from the hospital for about four weeks of his hospital stay. >> pelley: what did it come to? >> trish phillips: it came to a little over $4 million. >> pelley: it was months before she learned that insurance would pay. it was unsettling at the worst time. but her husband's memory helped her through it. >> trish phillips: andy's battle really touched and changed a lot of people. and i think he'll continue to help us. >> pelley: how has it changed you? >> trish phillips: i'm
definitely stronger than i thought. but, you know, i kind of always leaned on him. he was kind of our rock. it's just a different future for me. >> pelley: a different future and an uncertain one for the bereaved, including jamie drezek. >> jamie drezek: we don't have the center of our universe anymore. we wanted to grow old with the grandkids, and we had plans. and those are all gone. >> pelley: last year, jamie lost her 49-year-old husband, craig. he was a college administrator in connecticut. at some point, inevitably, you have to begin worrying about practical things. and craig was the biggest part of your income. >> jamie drezek: you know, we had life insurance. but 80% of our income was lost. and you hate to look at it, like-- you know, you think about
the emotional part. and then you have to think of the practical thing. like, how am i now going to raise five children in this life that we've built together? >> pelley: we asked the five to s: colbi caden and kiley. >> jamie drezek: my youngest is only 12 years old. i have a long way to go still. i can hear them, "don't ask mom for that, that's too expensive." that makes me feel even worse, because i don't want them to-- it's hard enough dealing with losing your father. >> pelley: it's a lot to deal with, having such a large family. on the other hand, many hands make light work. >> jamie drezek: yeah. as much work as they create, they help at the same time. not only the physical things that need to get done, but just to be able to share all of our different stories. it's going to help keep my husband alive and with us. >> pelley: craig is sitting all around you.
>> jamie drezek: and when i look at them, i can see it. i see the mannerisms, i see the behaviors, i see a little bit-- a lot of him in each of them. >> pelley: caden drezek told us about his dad's last words to him. >> caden drezek: "as of right now, you're the man in the house, and you've got to, like, take over, and take all my responsibilities," so. it's a lot-- it's still a lot of pressure, but i feel like it's kind of my job to do. >> pelley: at the age of 15. >> caden drezek: yeah. >> pelley: when a parent dies too young, children age too soon. covid made emerick falta an orphan. >> emerick falta: me and my mom, we were best friends. she loved kids. and she loved working with other people. >> pelley: after his father died years ago, his mother-- his best friend-- emmy, raised him in new york.
this january, deaths in the city averaged 70 a day, but last year, emmy falta was sick when 700 were dying each day. as a college junior, emerick eased her journey to the end. >> falta: they told me that i was the person in charge of my mom and her medical decisions. >> pelley: she was 41. their last touch was through a screen. >> falta: and throughout that entire facetime call, i tried to smile. i tried so hard, to make, you know, if this was my last memory with her, i really wanted it to be me smiling. i wanted it to be me hopeful. and i said, "mom, you're going to make it through this. and i love you." >> pelley: how has losing your mother, your last remaining parent, changed your young life? >> falta: i've always been independent.
i've always been able to help out others when the help is needed. now that i'm fully on my own, although it feels lonely, i feel like i can manage. >> pelley: jake schoffstall shares the loneliness and the need to manage. he told his dad there was no need to worry anymore about the family business. >> jake schoffstall: i said, "dad, i got it from here. give me the torch. and let me take care of mom and jaidyn and everybody." and i said, "i'll keep the deer barn open, no matter what." >> pelley: and how old are you now? >> jake schoffstall: i'm 17. >> pelley: the deer barn is a feed store in rural indiana. jake and his dad started it to add to john schoffstall's pay as a firefighter. >> pelley: when do you miss john the most? >> jennifer schoffstall: at night, when i remember he's not coming home. >> pelley: jennifer schoffstall told us john got sick early last year.
back then, covid seemed like just a curiosity on the news. >> jennifer schoffstall: we're terre haute, indiana. we're not a big city. we're not world travelers. we're midwest, rural country folks. so i can't say that we really took it serious. >> pelley: she couldn't visit the hospital, so to be near him, she and others in the family sat in a car, outside his room, all day and all night-- every day. >> jennifer schoffstall: i sent one text to one firefighter and said, "8:00 tonight, i'll be at the hospital praying for john." and so that night, the entire fire department came. >> pelley: the vigil stood for more than a week. >> pastor: lord, we lift john schoffstall up to you, and we thank you with everything we got. >> pelley: but 41-year-old john schoffstall died before dawn on a sunday. jennifer was with him-- on a
facetime call. >> jennifer schoffstall: they were doing c.p.r. at that time. and i was telling him to stop. don't go. i needed him. and then they said, we lost him. >> pelley: and that was easter sunday. >> jennifer schoffstall: he's one of the only people i have ever known to be able to go be in heaven on resurrection sunday. and that's pretty powerful to me. >> pelley: these are early days. days when the bereaved still expect to hear the key in the door or catch themselves thinking about something they'll say when the one who's gone comes home. they are days that lauren thomas lives in the past tense. i can't help but notice you're wearing your engagement ring. >> thomas: yes. i cannot take it off. even though i saw him in the casket. i saw them lower that same
casket into the ground. but taking this ring off just confirms that all of this is real. he's really gone. so, i don't know how long it's going to be on my hand, but i'm in no rush to take it off. >> pelley: all over the country, people are talking about, "isn't it going to be great when this is over?" and it occurs to me, speaking to you, that for a lot of people in this country, it will never be over. >> thomas: never be. what is normal? normal is not a thing for a lot of us anymore. ( ticking ) >> advice from children who have lost a parent to covid 19. >> they're not gone, you know, they're with you, you have signs of it, you can feel it. at 60minutesovertime.com.
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>> anderson cooper: autism is a developmental disorder that can affect how the brain processes information. people with autism have a spectrum of abilities and disabilities. some are unable to speak, or care for themselves, while others can live on their own and have unique skills like excellent memory or attention to detail. no matter where they are on the spectrum, many adults with autism have a difficult time finding a job. even making it past a first interview can be challenging. but, that may be starting to change. as we first reported last
october, more companies are discovering the potential of people with autism, and some are now actively recruiting for talent on the spectrum. doing a television interview can be nerve-wracking for anyone, but for people with autism, it's potentially overwhelming. the cameras, lights, microphones-- not to mention having to shake hands with a stranger. nice of you to be here. but last year, before the pandemic, five adults on the autism spectrum agreed to talk with us about their struggles finding work. >> erik rolan: i was unemployed for three years. i just kept receiving one rejection after the other. >> cooper: erik rolan has a bachelor's degree in sociology. how many jobs do you think you applied for? >> rolan: countless. i can't even count. about hundreds. >> cooper: how did that feel to get so many rejections? >> rolan: well, i felt useless. i felt like i wasn't getting anywhere with life. >> cooper: brian evans and phillip mitchell were diagnosed
with autism as young children. sarah klaich and brennen novak not until high school. how does being a person with autism make you different than a person who doesn't have autism? do you see differences? >> phillip mitchell: oh, yes. i do see differences from person to person. with me, for example, i'm good with numbers and i'm good with mathematics. >> sarah klaich: differences in communication are pretty common from what i've seen like especially with like non-verbal communication like body language and stuff. >> cooper: what would you like people to understand about autism? >> klaich: the lack of or the ability to communicate doesn't equal intelligence. >> dave friedman: clearly they have talents and skills. >> cooper: dave friedman hired sarah and the four others at autonomy works, a tech firm he started in 2012, to proofread digital content and manage data for dozens of companies, like nike and nissan. there are 32 adults on the spectrum here-- including friedman's 26-year-old son matt. >> dave friedman: let's try 700 and see what we get. nothing beats sort of sitting in my office and looking over here
and seeing matt at work. and the job has really given him sort of a whole other purpose in life. >> cooper: do you like the job? >> matt friedman: yeah. i like that it's a quiet office environment. >> cooper: do you remember getting your first paycheck? >> matt friedman: june 22, 2015. >> cooper: you remember the date? that's-- >> matt friedman: yeah. >> cooper: did you worry a lot about what would happen to matt when he became an adult? >> dave friedman: for a long time, we didn't. he's really talented with numbers, really good with detail, so we figured that there had to be jobs out there for him. what we found was, was horrifying. like there's, there are no jobs. >> cooper: a child with autism reaching 18 or 21 and suddenly it's-- >> dave friedman: the cliff. >> cooper: people have talked about a cliff? >> dave friedman: yeah. >> cooper: or graduating to their parents' couch? >> dave friedman: yeah. what ends up happening is, they transition from a structured school setting into their parents' house with really very few prospects. >> back in 2011, i was... >> cooper: the idea for autonomy works came to friedman when he was head of marketing at sears.
he oversaw hundreds of employees checking the accuracy of advertisements in newspapers. >> dave friedman: and the thought occurred to me, "matt could do this." this appeals to exactly the kind of way that matt thinks and processes information. >> cooper: it's a lot of very small detailed information. >> dave friedman: yeah it seems like a small thing. it seems like $21.24 versus $29.24. but there's tens of thousands of dollars of costs that sit in that error. >> cooper: autonomy works employees monitor more than 2300 websites a month for accuracy and quality. friedman says their extreme attention to detail has led to a 90% reduction in product and pricing errors. and they're so good at sustaining focus, productivity is up 30%. >> brennen: i have a great memory and so when i do a task once i can usually produce it exactly the same way. >> cooper: do you get bored? >> brennen: for me, i don't get bored at all doing our work. >> klaich: part of it is the repetition. i can get into, like, a rhythm with certain tasks. >> cooper: you like the rhythm? >> klaich: yeah. if i was in a job that was
constantly changing it wouldn't fit me very well because, like, my mind would be all over the place. >> let's look over here and see which one. >> cooper: not all people with autism would be able to work in an office environment like this. the centers for disease control people on the spectrum have significant intellectual disabilities. >> dave friedman: autism is a spectrum. it impacts people in a-- in a wildly different array of-- of ways, from people who are unable to feed themselves or care for themselves, all the way up to people where you would never even know that they were on the spectrum and can get through life without any sort of supports. >> cooper: at autonomy works employees can wear noise- canceling headphones and take breaks in a quiet room, where lights are dimmed to reduce sensory overload. friedman says the most important accommodation companies can make is to change the way they interview applicants on the spectrum. >> dave friedman: for a person with autism, the first 15 or 30 seconds of an interaction are by far their worst. they're high anxiety about meeting a new person, trying to
interpret interpersonal cues, trying to plan out a conversation to have with that person. >> cooper: and those first 15 seconds, that's when the other person, a job interviewer, say, is making their first and lasting impression about someone? >> dave friedman: exactly. hiring managers just aren't taking the time to go past that first 30 seconds and understand the skills, the talents, and the capabilities that exist within those individuals. >> shukla: there are complexities that are inherently inside of these very large data sets. >> cooper: at the global accounting firm ernst & young, they've scrapped the traditional interview process for applicants with autism. they've replaced it with a series of problem solving challenges. >> shukla: and so if i could ask you all to come up. >> cooper: testing aptitude, creativity, and teamwork. >> jayram: i think for this subject we should do analysis. >> cooper: in a demonstration last year in chicago, before the pandemic required they work from home, four current ernst & young employees on the autism spectrum were given millions of lines of data to quickly analyze, and explain how they'd present it to
a client. >> if we find that there are errors, we can loop back over to this step. >> cooper: ernst & young has used this technique to hire dozens of employees with autism who work around the world in fields like artificial intelligence, blockchain technology, and cybersecurity. is this about corporate responsibility, doing the right thing, being altruistic? >> kelly grier: make no mistake about it, this is absolutely a business imperative, and it makes great sense from a business perspective. >> cooper: kelly grier, ernst & young's u.s. chairwoman, says the employees they've hired have saved the company millions of dollars by looking at problems in a different way, and creating algorithms to shortcut and automate processes. >> grier: that is one of the things every one of our clients is focused on right now: how do they use data differently to create competitive advantages, or to stave off vulnerability? and it is a very, very rare skill set in high demand. there's still so many people on the spectrum that are underemployed or unemployed. and they've got this incredible
talent that is going unused at the moment. >> stassun: this is a place where we can bring autistic staff. >> cooper: two years ago, vanderbilt university opened the frist center for autism and innovation, a groundbreaking research center where scientists and others are devintod tenologe workplace for people on the autism spectrum. >> what subject did you most enjoy in school? >> cooper: they're creating computer simulated job interviews, specially designed driving challenges, and a block design test to help a company assess a potential employee's visual problem-solving abilities. >> maithilee kunda: so people have done research on this. >> cooper: maithilee kunda is a computer scientist at the frist center. >> kunda: so, this is a wearable eye tracker. right here and here are two little, tiny cameras and they're actually facing inward and they're recording your eyes. >> cooper: the infrared cameras detect where your pupils are pointing. >> you can start as soon as i turn the page. >> okay. >> cooper: dan burger, a data scientist at the center, who is
on the autism spectrum, volunteered to take the block design test to compare his visual problem solving abilities for 10 minutes he assembled a series of increasingly complex block patterns. can i go? >> yes. >> cooper: next it was my turn dan made it look easy. for me, it wasn't. at this point my head is hurting. should it be hurting? i completed the puzzles, but dan did them faster and was more efficient. how can you tell? look at the square on the right of your screen. dan methodically placed the blocks left to right, line by line. and amazingly, he usually only had to look at the sample pattern once before placing a block. i wasn't organized at all. i placed blocks randomly. and had to look back and forth thirteen times at the sample pattern before figuring out how to place the last block. my mind is a sieve, essentially. like, i'm not holding onto any of that information so i'm constantly having to refer back to the original. whereas-- >> kunda: right.
>> cooper: --dan, he memorizes it. >> kunda: yeah, it's very interesting-- different way of processing information or trying to solve problems? >> kunda: yes, yeah, it is. >> cooper: maithilee kunda hopes employers might use tests like this to more accurately assess the capabilities of people on the autism spectrum. >> kunda: you know, you imagine, like, t.s.a. baggage screening is something that's super visual. or when you're inspecting batteries coming off the line for quality control. so there's-- there's lots of different jobs that this is relevant for. >> in the model we put things like. >> cooper: dan burger's unique abilities caught the attention of keivan stassun-- an astrophysics professor at vanderbilt. his son is on the autism spectrum, and stassun helped start the frist center. why did you want dan here at the center? >> stassun: i brought him on board with my astrophysics research group originally because we were dealing with these massive amounts of data from space telescopes. and i needed help, from someone who had dan's unique talents to help us look for patterns in data. >> cooper: so one of the skills that you have is looking at
large amounts of information? >> dan: i think my greatest skill is i see things differently from other people. >> stassun: this is a picture of the seven sisters. >> cooper: dan's challenge was to make sense of data from nasa's kepler telescope. his solution? he built an interactive software program called filtergraph. >> stassun: using dan's software tool, we were just able to slice and dice the data, spin it around in different ways, until something visually popped. >> cooper: what popped was a breakthrough in astrophysics. dan's filtergraph produced a new way of judging the size and age of stars based on how vigorously they flicker in the night sky. >> stassun: dan may be too modest to tell you, but he is the inventor of record of this platform. and nasa has licensed it. >> cooper: nasa is using filtergraph-- >> dan: yes. >> cooper: --that you invented? >> dan: yes. >> cooper: i mean, the brilliance that dan, that you have, that's going to become increasingly important. there's only going to be more and more data coming down the road. >> dan: and i feel like people who can understand the data, that's going to be more
important. >> cooper: there's a lot of people who are unemployed who are on the spectrum. do you have any advice for them? >> dan: oh, gosh. i feel like there are a lot of strengths to being on the spectrum. and i think imagination is a huge key trait. >> cooper: we found about 30 large companies actively seeking employees on the autism spectrum, including microsoft, j.p. morgan and ford, but there are still so many people with autism who are unemployed, and the numbers are growing. in the next decade, researchers at drexel university estimate as many as 1.1 million americans with autism will turn 18. back at autonomy works outside chicago, brian, sarah, brennen, phillip, and erik told us they hope more companies will start to recognize the untapped potential of people on the spectrum. >> cooper: what does having a job mean to you? >> brian: for me, having a job
is important because it provides me with much-needed structure in my life. >> phillip: having the job is important to me because otherwise i would become very financially dependent on my parent, asking them, "can you buy me this? can you buy me that?" >> brennan: it's just been nice to be able to go home and talk to my parents about what i did during the day. >> cooper: yeah. they must be very proud of you. >> brennan: yeah. they always say they're not surprised. so... ( ticking ) >> cbs sports hq presented by progressive insurance. this is sports news from today. morcowa is the first golfer to win two majors in the first attempt. the nl east overcame a six run deficit to win. and the cardinals upset the giants who came in with the best record in box+*ib. giants who came in with the best record in box+*ib. this is cbs sports hq.com.
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minutes." >> holly williams: tonight, we have a story of solidarity, hope, and ultimately survival in the face of adversity. it took place more than 50 years ago, but when it was rediscovered last year, it caused a sensation. as we first told you earlier this year, it's a tale of a group of schoolboys stranded on a remote and deserted island for more than 15 months. it might remind you of the famous novel "lord of the flies" by william golding-- but as you'll see, the outcome of this real-life story could not have been more different. the story begins in 1965. mano totau and five of his friends were studying at a boarding school in tonga, an island nation in the pacific ocean. bored, rebellious, and yearning for adventure, they stole a traditional whaling boat and,
with reckless abandon, they set off for fiji. did it have an engine? >> mano totau: no, no engine. >> williams: but mano, isn't fiji about 500 miles from tonga? >> totau: a little bit less. >> williams: did you have a map, or a compass? >> totau: no. >> williams: the teenagers might have been brought up on the sea, but they soon figured out they'd made a terrible mistake. on the first night, a violent storm ripped the sails from the mast and tore off the boat's rudder. for over a week, their crippled boat drifted aimlessly. 17-year-old sione fataua, the oldest of the group, told us they were convinced they'd die. >> sione fataua: no food, no water. we was just drifting around by the wind. and after eight days, we saw the island. >> williams: it was a volcanic island, jutting out from the
sea. as the boat neared, a wave sent it crashing into the rocky shoreline, leaving it in pieces. the exhausted teenagers struggled ashore. >> totau: the only thing we do, grabbing each other together and say a prayer, "thank you, god." >> williams: the schoolboys later discovered they'd drifted 100 miles from where they'd set off, and had landed on the island of ata. on maps, nothing more than an uninhabited speck. it was a story so remarkable that later, an australian television crew brought the teenagers back to ata to re-enact their experience. in the film, sione, mano, and their friends show how they survived. >> they were able to salvage an oar and a piece of wire, and with this, they set out to catch what they hoped would be their first meal in eight days.
>> williams: they demonstrate how they ate the fish they caught raw, and quenched their thirst by raiding the nests of seabirds, drinking their blood and their raw eggs. any food, anything to drink? >> totau: any food. no matter how awful it is and how dirty it is, it's a very beautiful things to have it in that time. >> williams: when they regained enough strength, mano and sione told us, they climbed up to the island's forested plateau, where they found a clay pot, a machete and chickens, all left behind by a small tongan community that lived on ata before being ripped from their home by slave traders a century earlier. but they told us everything changed when they finally made fire and began cooking hot meals. how did you stop it from going out?
>> fataua: i tell the guys, everybody have a duty for the fire. you have to take care of the fire and you have to say prayer for that night, and get up in the morning, it's still going. >> williams: the teenage runaways showed remarkable resourcefulness, building a hut out of palm fronds, establishing a garden with bananas and beans, and setting up a roster to keep a lookout for passing ships. they even built a badminton court and a makeshift gym. they lived in harmony, they told us-- most of the time. but, come on, mano. you were teenage boys. you must have had arguments. >> totau: we did, and we disagreed. >> williams: they cooled off by walking to opposite sides of the island, mano says, though sometimes things got out of hand. so, if there was a fight, how did you stop it? >> totau: you smack him or something like that, and tell him, "shut up and cool down, sit
down, listen." >> williams: there must have been times when you were depressed, when you thought that you would never see your families again. >> fataua: it was hard. and i was pray god and-- and i promise him, "if you could get me back, i'll serve you, rest of my life." >> williams: for more than 50 years, the real-life story of sione, mano, and their friends was little known outside of tonga... until dutch historian and best-selling author rutger bregman stumbled across it on the internet. he flew across the world to meet mano, and made the story the cornerstone of his new book, "humankind: a hopeful history." >> rutger bregman: and i just couldn't understand how this had not become, you know, one of the most famous stories of the 20th century. i just couldn't understand it, because it's just extraordinary.
six kids on an island for 15 months, and they survived. how? >> williams: like millions of others, bregman had read the fictional tale of marooned schoolboys, "lord of the flies," which for generations has been taught in high schools around the world. >> i think we ought to have a chief to decide things. >> williams: the novel-- later made into a film-- is a nightmarish account of a group of british boys stranded on an uninhabited island. they divide into two competing tribes and descend into violence, culminating in mayhem and murder. >> bregman: this is really old theory in western culture, that our civilization is just a thin veneer, just a thin layer, and that when something bad happens, say there is a natural disaster or you shipwreck on an island,
and you have the freedom to establish your own society, that people reveal who they really are. you know, people deep down are just selfish. >> williams: and you're saying that basic idea underlying the novel, "lord of the flies," is wrong? you're saying that would never happen? >> bregman: well, if tens of millions of children around the globe still have to read "lord of the flies" in school today, i think they also deserve to know about this one time in all of world history when real kids shipwrecked on a real island, because that's a very different story. >> williams: a story of cooperation, hope, and eventually salvation. in september, 1966, after 15 long months, australian lobster fisherman peter warner was sailing near ata when he spotted a burned-out patch. when he went closer, he was shocked to see a human figure. >> peter warner: and this first figure was swimming towards us doing the australian crawl, as i call it.
and then another five bodies leapt off the cliff and into the water and followed him. >> williams: they clambered aboard and told the crew how they'd run away from boarding school and ended up shipwrecked. peter radioed to nuku'alofa, the capital of tonga, to check out their story. >> warner: and the operator very tearfully said, "it's true. these boys were students at this college. they've been given up for dead. funerals have been held. and now you've found them." so, that was a very emotional moment for all of us. >> williams: so you knew you were going home. >> totau: yes >> williams: how did that feel? >> totau: like walking through the door to heaven. >> williams: but heaven would have to wait. when they arrived back in port,
they were immediately arrested. so, peter warner rescued you and took you back to nuku'alofa, where everyone thought that you were dead. and then you were arrested? >> fataua: yeah. we are arrested because we stole the boat. ( laughs ) >> williams: peter warner told us he paid off the owner of the stolen boat, and finally sailed the runaway schoolboys back to their home island, accompanied by the australian television crew that had flown in to film their story. they captured the teenagers' reunion with their families. >> our boys have come back. >> fataua: my mom, she was swimming out before i get out the boat. i'm the first one going to the beach, and give me a hug. >> never had there been such joy. >> warner: the whole population of this little island were on the beach, hugging the boys.
parents were crying. then the party started. six days of feasting. >> williams: the story has never been forgotten in these islands, but when a british newspaper published a chapter of rutger bregman's book last year, the tale of the tongan teenagers went viral. seven million people read it within days. hollywood studios got into a bidding war for the film rights. why were so many people all around the world surprised and captivated by your telling of the story? >> bregman: maybe we needed to hear it? maybe, especially right now, in the midst of a pandemic, is that people were looking for a story that gave them hope about a different way of living together, that a different society is possible, that it's not just violence and selfishness and greed within human nature, but that we can
build on something different. maybe that's why. >> williams: it's been 55 years since the shipwrecked schoolboys were rescued. they've never had any doubt howe where we come from, we are close. really close family. we share everything. we poor, but we love each other. >> williams: the teenagers had no interest in going back to the classroom. at first, they worked for peter warner, who set up a fishing business in tonga. sione, as promised, later became a minister. he's now the head of the church of tonga in america. mano trained as a chef and moved to australia. for half a century, he and peter warner have been best friends. whenever they can, they go out for a sail, forever pulled back to the pacific ocean where their
friendship began. why do you guys get along so well, you know, all these years after the rescue? >> totau: i think that we feel strongly in us that we have something to helping one another. >> warner: yeah, and also-- >> totau: teaching one another on it. >> warner: and also, we have a common beliefs that got you through that trial on the island, you know, love, compassion and-- >> totau: yeah. >> warner: justice, unity. >> totau: we both believe in the same thing. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ >> williams: the teenagers composed a song when they were on the island of ata, "siosionoa"-- seeing nothing everyday. it takes mano back to a time when they were longing for home, and before they could ever imagine that their story might
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