A Houston reporter and her cameraman are being praised for saving the life of a trucker who was trapped by the overwhelming flooding from Hurricane Harvey. The reporter’s quick thinking was caught on video until flood damage knocked her off the air.
Brandi Smith and her cameraman, Mario Sandoval, were covering the devastation from the hurricane when they noticed that there appeared to be a man trapped in the cab of his truck.
“The lights are going on this truck and the windshield wipers are going, and as we get a little closer, it does look like there is someone inside,” she said. “There is movement inside of this truck.”
As she stood by the side of the road, behind her a Harris County Sheriff’s Office truck and boat drove toward them.
“Here we go!” she said, “We have a boat coming! We have a boat coming!”
“I’m gonna flag, I’m gonna flag these guys down,” she continued, “hold on just a second!”
“Are you guys, are you guys headed down to the truck right there?” She asked them. “There’s a truck driver stuck here in about 10 feet of water.”
After returning to the man, Smith tried to inform him that there were rescue efforts underway.
“I’m gonna try to get his attention. There is water filling his cab and I’m trying not to break your eardrums as I scream,” Smith said. “Sir, there is a boat here!”
As they waited for the rescue, they captured on video the water that was streaming into the cab of the truck as the water rose, with his personal items floating in it.
“I cannot imagine how terrifying it would be to be in that place right now,” she said. “Put yourself in that place: your car is filling with water. Help is on the way, he is incredibly lucky.”
After several minutes, the feed was cut off as the flooding damaged the local KHOU offices.
Smith reported that they were being told the KHOU officers were inundated with two feet of water, and it had knocked out their live broadcast.
Smith posted video of the rescue later on her Facebook page. “As many of you know,” she wrote, “KHOU 11 News was evacuated due to flooding. That meant my photographer Mario and I were the only ones left on air for … well … I don’t even know how long.”
“The #KHOU11 signal cut out just as Harris County Sheriff’s Office crews got their rescue boat in the water to pull a semi driver out of his flooded cab,” she added. “I’ve had SO many people asking if he made it out OK and I wanted to share the video. (We kept going and rolling until the camera’s battery died, not knowing we’d been knocked off the air.) They pull him out around the 4:40 mark.”
“THANK GOD for that crew,” she wrote.
In an interview with the truck driver, Smith told him that a year ago in that exact spot, another driver died.
Smith said on social media that it was her cameraman, Mario Sandoval, who spotted the truck first.
— Mario Sandoval (@KHOU_MSandoval) August 27, 2017
Once the trucker was safe, Smith asked him, “This is going to sound rude, but can I hug you? I’m so happy you’re OK!”