Louisburg, N.C. — Mark Joyner figures he was just in the wrong place at the right time.
That’s how he sums up his remarkable tale of getting stuck in Atlantic City, N.J., during the height of Hurricane Sandy.
During his harrowing few days in the coastal resort, Joyner, the head of information technology for Louisburg College, rescued a family from rising waters and helped a British newspaper cover the storm before finally heading home to Franklin County.
Joyner stopped in Atlantic City on his way back from helping broadcast a Louisburg College football game in New York. He felt too sick to drive home Sunday, so he ended up bedding down in one of the only hotels still open.
He said he woke up Monday feeling better, but he realized it was too late to evacuate.
“So I decided to make the best of the situation and broadcast the storm through livestream,” Joyner wrote in an email to WRAL News.
Back at home, he reflected on why he wound up in Atlantic City.
“Who knows?” he said. “Maybe that’s why I got stuck there – to help the family out. I’m sure if I didn’t help them, somebody would have.”
Joyner said the hotel staff kept getting calls from foreign reporters, couldn’t understand their accents and asked him to talk to them. He gave an interview to The (UK) Telegraph, which he said asked him to text some photos of the storm.
As Joyner drove around in his pickup truck to take photos for the British newspaper, he came across a family of five that was wading through the water. Three of the family members were children.
“I’ve never seen fear on a face like that before in my life,” he said. “The kids were at the point of numb.”
Joyner didn't know it, but he was in the background of a live shot for the Fox affiliate in Philadelphia. The rescue was captured on live television and streamed online.
The family all got into Joyner's truck, and he drove them to safety.
“They tried to pay me all the money they had,” Joyner said. “I said, ‘You keep that money. You got kids. Don’t worry about that.’”
Several times, the water started coming into the truck. A water line is still visible on the vehicle.
Joyner realized the rescue was documented when he talked to a police officer in New Jersey.
He said the officer came up to his truck window and said, “Ah, I recognize the white truck. What are you out doing? Saving somebody? That’s our job.’”
He took a photo of the family when he dropped them off at a hotel. He doesn't know their names but knows he saved them from a terrifying situation.
“Who knows?” Joyner said. “Sometimes the good Lord puts you in a place where your’e supposed to be.”
Joyner was finally able to leave Atlantic City on Tuesday. During a faculty meeting Thursday, he was recognized for his efforts.