Woman Carried to Safety by WESH Reporter During Hurricane Ian Calls Him Her ‘Knight in Shining Armor’

By Kevin Eck 

Last Thursday, we shared the story of WESH reporter Tony Atkins rescuing a woman who was trapped in her car by rising flood waters during Hurricane Ian.

Tonya McCullough, the woman Atkins carried to safety, thanked the reporter for the Orlando NBC affiliate on Friday. She said “in all the madness” she didn’t get a chance to tell him how much she appreciated what he did.

McCullough said she was heading to her job as a nurse, when she got stuck in rising waters.


“It was dark and rainy and gloomy and you have no idea how deep that was,” she said. “I realized I can’t drive through this and I tried to back up, the water is filling up the inside of the car.”

“Finished my morning live shots on Hurricane Ian follow ups and look who I FINALLY got to catch up with!” Atkins wrote on Facebook. “Meet Tonya McCullough, a nurse, mother and grandmother. I’m so glad our chance encounter yesterday helped her make it to work during the hurricane! She was awesome!”
The station said Atkins and photojournalist Jerry Clearman knew it was safe to wade into the flood because they had been covering the storm for hours and knew the conditions along Orlando Avenue.

“I had been there all morning, so I had an idea that it was safe. I didn’t see power lines, I didn’t see animals, I also didn’t see anyone else, and that’s why I jumped into it.”

“He was there for me—he’s my knight in shining armor, he was there to rescue me,” McCullough said.