Cameraman Puts Job On Hold to Help Rescue Haitian Toddler

Filed under: In The News

An Australian TV cameraman apologized to his boss for missing the big shot of a child being pulled from the rubble after last week's devastating earthquake in Haiti, but he had possibly the best excuse we've ever heard -- he helped rescue the toddler.

Richard Moran, a camera operator for Australia's Channel Nine, was filming the horrific aftermath just outside the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince when he heard the cries of 18-month-old Winnie, according to the Web site The Mercury. Fellow Channel Nine reporter Robert Penfold was with him at the time.

"He was up to his waist, lifting out pieces of concrete," Penfold told the newspaper The Australian. "And then, out of the ruins came this little girl, and I will never forget it. She did not cry."

While the end result was nothing short of heroic and miraculous -- Winnie emerged from the rubble looking "astonished," Penfold tells The Australian -- there is some controversy surrounding the rescue efforts.Rival journalists from another news station, News Seven, say they helped bring the girl out. Indeed, news footage shows Seven's Mike Amor standing above the hole in the ground from which Winnie was pulled. In the news footage, Amor is seen reaching forward to hold the girl, and then washes the dust from her face and gives her a drink.

Moran, the only Australian cameraman to win a Gold Walkley award for excellence in journalism, nonetheless realized that getting the story was far less important than making sure the tale had a happy ending.

And, rivalry aside, all parties are grateful that Winnie is alive today, one bright spot amid the shocking suffering taking place in Haiti. In fact, Amor tells The Australian that any credit for Winne's survival must go to Deiby Celestino, Channel Nine's "fixer," or interpreter, and occasional security guy.

"That moment, it was beyond news," Amor tells The Australian. "The focus of everybody on that hill was the little girl, and as any of us will tell you, it was Deiby who went into that hole, and dug, and dug, until he got that little girl out. He's the hero."

Hats off to our fellow reporters, who broke the invisible journalistic wall to save a life.

Related: Golden Globes 2010: Stars Support Haiti Relief by Wearing Ribbons on Their Dresses

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.