'What a hero': Orlando journalist Tony Atkins carries nurse on his back through waist-deep water
ORLANDO, FLORIDA: A video shows a reporter in Hurricane Ian-ravaged Orlando rescuing a woman who was driving to work through the city's still-flooded streets on Thursday morning.
The brave act, filmed by the journalist's camera team, occurred during NBC station WESH 2's live coverage of Hurricane Ian, and which has since earned reporter Tony Atkins the title of hero.
In the touching video, the gallant journalist is seen braving floodwaters up to his waist to carry the trapped citizen on his back, and bringing her to safety.
As if that wasn't enough, Atkins performed the impressive feat while gripping the woman's pocketbook and keeping it dry above the floodwater. Several images illustrated the extent of the flooding in the city, where first responders risked overflowing streets in seven feet of water to rescue citizens who were trapped in Ian's wake. When questioned why he heroically came to the woman's help, putting his life at danger, Atkins simply stated, "I just had to."
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INCREDIBLE: An Orlando reporter rescued a woman who was trying to drive through severe floodwaters this morning.— LEX 18 News (@LEX18News) September 29, 2022
The woman says she was on her way to work as a nurse when she got stuck, so reporter Tony Atkins carried her on his back and out of the water. ❤️❤️❤️ pic.twitter.com/s8YSH5nBNJ
According to Atkins, the woman, who was not identified, chose to drive in the early hours despite the perilous circumstances because she was afraid she would lose her job if she phoned in.
"Our woman from early this morning made it to work," Atkins, a former journalist in Milwaukee, shared in an update on the woman's situation on Thursday. "Her job as a nurse hung in the balance, according to her daughter," he added. "I got this message from her daughter today."
The anonymous woman's daughter wrote a sincere and thankful note to Atkins, according to the journalist's article.
🙏🏽— Tony Atkins (@TonyAtkinsTV) September 29, 2022
Our woman from early this morning made it to work. Her job as a nurse hung in the balance, according to her daughter. I got this message from her daughter today! So glad things worked out. #NoCarNoProblem pic.twitter.com/8yBHaGY8jI
"So glad things worked out," he wrote.
The video of Atkins' daring rescue, which was posted on social media by his coworkers, has now gone viral, with his coworkers and fellow Floridians praising the reporter's bravery. "During our live coverage, our reporter @TonyAtkinsTV stopped to save a woman who got stuck in some heavy flooding," fellow WESH staffer Caelan Dooley wrote in an impassioned post on Twitter as the video began to circulate online. "What a hero," she added.
Just like that, Hurricane no. 1, #Ian, is in the books… pic.twitter.com/kabrT0gntY— Tony Atkins (@TonyAtkinsTV) September 29, 2022
Fellow reporter Marlei Martinez shared similar congratulations, while also emphasizing that her colleague, despite the danger, ensured that the woman's pocketbook was also kept secure. "My colleague, Tony Atkins, just did this! Incredible," Martinez tweeted early Thursday, shortly after the rescue. "I also love how he carried her purse the whole way too."
According to Atkins, there were no police enforcement or rescuers in the neighborhood who could have assisted the trapped woman. He explained: "I just used caution, and I just decided to slowly make my way out there and just help her out." The thoughtful newsman then added, "I'm just glad she got home safe."