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This morning, Los Angeles resident Jason Pennington was driving down the 101 freeway when he saw a smoking car on the side of the road. He slowed down to see if anyone was inside, and sure enough, there was an elderly man slumped over the wheel. So, he pulled over, opened the door and dragged the man to safety right as the vehicle burst into flames. Once the situation calmed down a bit, the elderly man phoned his wife for a ride home, and Pennington made a startling realization: the elderly man was none other than eighty-seven-year-old screen legend Dick Van Dyke.
The blow-by-blow of what happened hasn’t been completely sorted out yet, but TMZ claims to have the basic gist. Apparently, Van Dyke was driving his Jaguar down the 101 when he noticed some smoke coming out of the hood. He quickly pulled over, but by the time he did, the smoke was thick enough to disorient him. He struggled as best as he could to work the seatbelt and shimmy his way out, but it wasn’t until Pennington opened the door and helped that he was able to. Moments later, the engine caught on fire, and while it’s impossible to predict what would have happened if he was still in the car, it’s probably safe to say a serious injury or perhaps even death would have come had he still been inside.
Van Dyke is a smooth operator. He was one of the most nimble-footed men in show business during his formative years, and I refuse to believe he’s not just as coordinated and dapper as he was decades ago. So, let’s just assume this massive puff of smoke was big enough and powerful enough that it could have disoriented poor Dick or any other man, even if it had been during his prime…
Van Dyke has had some health problems over the last few years, but every time he’s been on screen, he’s been just as loveable and hysterical as ever. If there’s anyone in the world who deserved to be helped out of a jam, it’s certainly Van Dyke. By all accounts, he was a wonderful guy to deal with during his career, and he brought a ton of smiles to a ton of faces during the decades he was at his peak. Apparently, it earned him a get out of jail free card, and he seems to have played it at exactly the right moment.
Pop Blend’s sincerest thoughts go out to Van Dyke, his entire family and Pennington. Here’s to hoping they all celebrate the close call coming out the right way tonight.