Virginia Photojournalists Save Two From Flooding

Jul 8, 2005

RICHMOND, VA – NPPA member and television photojournalist Dwight Nixon of WWBT-TV NBC-12 in Richmond, VA, is being credited with leading the rescue of two women from a car that was trapped in rising flood waters near Petersburg, VA, where flash flooding followed on the heels of tropical storm Cindy making landfall and moving inland.

WWBT-TV reports that Nixon was covering the storm’s aftermath when he noticed two women in a disabled car and floodwater was rising around the vehicle. Nixon and another man, bystander Allen Marshall, used one of Nixon’s long extension cords as a rope to brave into the rising water and rescue the women. Television photojournalist Jon Burkett from WTVR-TV CBS 6 used Nixon’s camera during the rescue and captured the entire event on tape.

“Jon Burkett deserves as much credit as I do,” Nixon wrote to News Photographer magazine today. “But the real hero was the by-stander, Mr. Marshall, who put himself at the most risk.”

In a story in today’s Richmond Times-Dispatch by staff writer Andrew Price, the saga began when Nixon and Burkett, each on assignment for their stations, spotted the women trapped in a car in high water. Nixon used a long, heavy-duty extension cord wrapped around himself as an anchor while Marshall took the other end of the cord and waded into the water, pulling one of the women to safety. In the next few minutes police arrived and an officer rescued the other woman from the car. One woman was described as being in her thirties or forties, and the other was described as elderly.

Nixon told the Times-Dispatch that Burkett’s camera stopped working in the wet conditions, so he handed over his camera so that Burkett could keep shooting during the rescue. The two stations shared the tape for their broadcasts.