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In an Instant

In an Instant

Photo Credit:  Committee Films / ABC
  • Premiered: 
    March 6, 2015
    (Click date to see TV listings for that day)

  • Network: ABC
  • Category: Series
  • Genre: Docudrama
  • Type: Live Action
  • Concept: 
  • Subject Matter: Current Events
  • Tags:

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Plot Synopsis

Using first-person accounts and dramatizations, this series of three specials brings to life the world's most harrowing tales of survival, exploring how a person's life can change in an instant and how a moment can define who they are. IN AN INSTANT features the trials and triumphs from every angle and includes first-person interviews with the people who lived to tell their stories -- and those who were instrumental in helping them survive. Ordinary people watched their lives flash before their eyes, stared certain death in the face and found a way to overcome the odds. Each two-hour program features a different story of survival, including: the Evans family, who wanted an Alaskan adventure and got their wish when their plane flew straight into a mountain, killing the pilot and a fellow passenger; a woman trapped underwater and a bus full of kids stuck next to a burning bread truck, who all survived the aftermath of the August 2007 bridge collapse during rush hour in Minneapolis; and Johan Otter and his daughter Jenna, who were celebrating her graduation with a hike in Glacier National Park when they came face-to-face with a grizzly bear determined to protect her young. This two-hour series returned for its second season on Saturday, June 18, 2016 at 9pm ET/PT on ABC. In its new season, IN AN INSTANT does more than just re-tell heart-pounding first-person accounts of the world's most harrowing tales of survival; it brings them to life with breathtaking dramatizations of the moments before and after life was forever changed. The powerful series features trials and triumphs from every angle and includes gripping first-person interviews with the people who lived to tell their stories, and those who were instrumental in helping them survive. These are the stories of ordinary people who have watched their lives flash before their eyes, stared almost certain death in the face and overcame it. What key decisions did they make to save their lives? In the season opener, "In an Instant: Murder in the Maternity Ward," Jae Lowder checked into Alta View Hospital expecting to have a baby, but soon she was caught in a violent hostage crisis; Rick Worthington, a father of eight, had burst into the hospital and vowed to start "shooting babies" if he did not find the doctor who performed a tubal ligation surgery on his wife two years earlier; and Glade Curtis, sharing his story for the first time ever on television, was the doctor Worthington came to kill. 20/20: IN AN INSTANT returned for its third season on Saturday, June 3, 2017 from 9-11pm ET/PT on ABC, with more heart-pounding, first-hand accounts of the world's most harrowing tales of survival. In the season opener, "Whiteout," it's just days after Christmas in 1992, and Jim, a 21-year-old marine pilot, his wife, Jennifer Stolpa, and their five-month-old son, Clayton, were preparing to travel from Northern California to Idaho for a funeral. They weren't expecting to encounter a major blizzard that would strand them for days and force them to use every ounce of strength they had to survive. After severe snowstorms closed off their route on Donner Pass, Jim and Jennifer tried to find a shortcut through Nevada's remote backcountry. Ultimately, they couldn't escape the unrelenting blizzard and their truck became bogged down in snow about 200 miles north of Reno. They stayed for three days shivering in their pickup, doing everything they could to keep warm, before they began a three day, 20-mile trek through the wilderness and deep snowdrifts to find help. Eventually, they found a small cave on the side of a cliff to shelter themselves. With little to keep Jennifer and Clayton warm, Jim trudged the 20 miles back to the truck. After another night's rest, he followed his truck's tire tracks even farther to a small town they had passed during the drive, telling himself along the way "I have to make it so they can make it." Jim was found on the side of the road by David Peterson, a Washoe County Road Supervisor, and driven to David's home. Jim gave David the necessary information to find Jennifer and Clayton who were soon found alive in the cave and brought to safety.
ABC premiered the season finale of 20/20: IN AN INSTANT on Saturday, July 15, 2017 from 8-10pm ET/PT. In the season ender, "Home Invasion Horror," Katie McConnell and her two children, Liam and Zoe, had just returned from a playdate. After putting Zoe down for a nap, Katie walked into her son's room and saw a sight straight out of a horror movie -- a masked gunman signaling her to keep quiet. Taylor Crisman and his accomplice, Chris Hill, wanted to rob a bank without ever stepping foot in it by forcing Katie's husband, Brian, a local bank manager, to do it for them. When Brian came home from a city council meeting, he realized something was wrong and headed for the knife block, but was stopped in his tracks. After staying up all night with his wife and the hostage taker, Brian went to the bank, emptied the vault and drove home with almost $200,000 in cash. While Crisman started sifting through stacks of money, Brian used the opportunity and managed to grab the hostage taker's gun. However, Brian was convinced by Crisman to give back the weapon for fear of everyone being killed by Crisman's partner if Crisman didn't get away with the money and gun. After Hill and Crisman sped off, Brian called 911, but when police responded, the family felt they were treated like suspects. Brian and Katie were forced to go through hours of intense interrogation and lie-detector tests before their names were cleared. A few weeks later, the FBI along with local law enforcement eventually caught Crisman and Hill. They pleaded guilty and are now serving time in federal prison.

Other Titles

  • Previously known as: Moment of Truth
  • Also known as: 20/20: In an Instant

Production & Distribution

  • Produced by Committee Films
  • In association with Lincoln Square Productions