As Hurricane Harvey's heavy rains and blistering winds battered the Gulf Coast of Texas over the weekend—leaving at least five people dead and injuring roughly a dozen others—news crews across Texas continued to cover the devastation. One team of broadcast journalists who braved the Category 4 storm is now being applauded for helping to save a man's life—capturing the heroic effort in the midst of an on-air broadcast.
According to the Washington Post, KHOU 11 News reporter Brandi Smith and photographer Mario Sandoval were still out in the field as their station—a Houston CBS affiliate—flooded Sunday morning. As journalists scrambled to continue operations at a nearby building, Smith and Sandoval kept the broadcast going for one of the biggest news stations in Houston.
While the two were reporting from a flooded highway on the north side of the city, the cameraman noticed a tractor trailer truck submerged in several feet of water. During their broadcast, Smith called out to the driver who was stuck inside, telling viewers there was "movement inside the truck," according to BuzzFeed News.
"Are you OK?" Smith yelled. "Can you get to the top of your truck? Do not climb into the water."
Several minutes later, in what was an unbelievable right-place-right-time moment, Smith saw a sheriff's department pickup truck with a boat in tow driving down the highway. She sprinted to the officers and asked them if they were headed to the stranded truck, but they had no idea what she was talking about.
"There's a truck driver stuck right here in about ten feet of water," Smith told the officers, directing them toward the semi. The journalists then stood by as the deputies jetted out to attempt to rescue the driver as water started filling his cab. The news team kept the cameras rolling but eventually lost their signal. Hours later, Smith uploaded footage of the rescue to Facebook.
"I don't have any word on how long he's been there or what kind of condition he's in," Smith said in the video. "I'm sure he's very wet, very cold, very frightened. I am terrified for him, so I can't imagine the level of fear he has here."
Eventually, the deputies managed to pull the driver from the cab of his semi onto their boat and handed him a lifejacket.
"I feel like I can finally breathe," Smith said. "Kind of a sigh of relief that he is OK."
People across the state praised Smith and Sandoval for their reporting, though they weren't the only journalists who displayed serious bravery while doing their jobs during the storm. According to Poynter, KTRK reporter Ted Oberg kept covering the floods even as his own family was being told to evacuate. Faced with completely flooded roads, the station's executive producer was forced to kayak to work. And as the storm reached a fever pitch, reporters at KIII in Corpus Christi kept up their broadcast—even when their entire building began to shake.
"We're beginning to rock and roll in here," one anchor said. Still, they stayed on the air.
Follow Drew Schwartz on Twitter.