Veteran screen and stage actor Dick Van Dyke narrowly escaped injury on Aug. 19. After his car caught on fire on an L.A. freeway, a passing motorist pulled the 87-year-old from the vehicle before it fully burst into flames.
The motorist was identified as Jason Pennington by TMZ, who broke the story. Pennington said he was driving along the 101 Freeway when he saw a smoke-filled car on the side of the rode – with an elderly many still inside, apparently struggling to get out.
Pennington said he helped Van Dyke escape before the car burst into flames. one of several people who stopped to assist according to Van Dyke.
They thought I had passed out so they yanked me out of the car," Van Dyke later told TMZ, who also said he was initially unaware his car, a Jaguar, was on fire.
"It just started making a noise, and I thought I had a flat at first, then it started to smoke, then it burned to a crisp," he said adding that was unhurt and had escaped from his car "long before" it went up in flames.
Van Dyke did not need medical attention, although he appear to be disoriented.
A follow-up by Reuters notes the California Highway Patrol responded to a report of a burning vehicle on the shoulder of 101 Freeway. Several people assisted Van Dyke, among them an off-duty firefighter, a nurse, and a police officer.
Not only did the 87-year-old “Mary Poppins” star live to talk about the incident – he spun what could have been a sad story into a funny anecdote. Just hours afterward, Van Dyke tweeted, "Used Jag for sale REAL CHEAP!!" along with a photo of the charred Jaguar.