A TV news reporter was captured in a dramatic video Thursday carrying a nurse on his back through raging Florida floodwaters from her stranded car.
Tony Atkins, who works for Orlando NBC affiliate WESH 2, was covering Hurricane Ian when he spotted the woman, who was on her way to work, trapped inside her vehicle at an intersection and calling out for help as swirling waters neared her windows.
He managed to open the car door and carry the frightened woman to safety — all while holding her purse above the water to keep it dry.
Tom Durian of TMJ4 News in Milwaukee, where Atkins used to work, hailed the reporter’s “heroic efforts” on Twitter. Durian also included a clip that shows Atkins’ old newsroom applauding as it watches footage of the rescue.
After the incident, Atkins told WESH 2 that no rescue workers were on scene to save the woman. He said he looked for dangers like crocodiles and downed power lines before wading into the waist-high waters to carry her to safety.
“I just used caution, and I just decided to slowly make my way out there and just help her out,” he said.
On Twitter, Atkins shared a grateful text message from the woman’s daughter, who let him know that she had safely arrived at work. “We are so grateful for you,” the daughter wrote. “A true hero.”
In what may be the deadliest hurricane in Florida history, Ian hit the state Wednesday, leaving some 2.6 million people without power and destroying homes, businesses, bridges, cars and boats. The storm is likely to result in “substantial loss of life,” President Joe Biden said Thursday.