Was Dick Van Dyke ‘rescued’ from car fire? Depends on who you ask


Dick Van Dyke and the guy who pulled him from his burning car on Monday seem to be on different pages about whether what happened was actually a rescue.

Jason Pennington, the hero of the day, shared his account of the fiery story Wednesday on CNN’s “The Situation Room,” describing how it was actually his wife who spotted something awry.

“It’s not uncommon when it’s hot out in Southern California to see a car on fire on the side of the road,” Pennington said, “but what was odd was nobody was standing around it and there were flames coming out of the hood and a lot of smoke. And as we drove by, it was my wife who said, ‘Somebody is inside that car and they’re hunched over.’ And I said you’ve got to be kidding.”


He said he parked on a nearby freeway ramp as close as he could get to the burning Jaguar, then got out and zoomed over to help the person inside.

“I opened the door and it was smoky, very smoky in the car — the flames were large but not that big — and the gentleman inside just kept saying, ‘I’m OK, I’m OK.’ I said, ‘Yes sir, but you’ve got to get out of the car’ ... He was trying to put his stuff together,” he said.

“Once I felt the flames they got really big and the whole front of the car was on fire, that’s when I just yanked him out by his arm.”

Pennington said he didn’t want to “lay hands” on anyone, but did what he did when he felt the heat from the flames.

“He kind of just stumbled to his feet, and he smiled, and I said, ‘We need to walk away from the car,’ and he smiled again and I said, ‘You’re Dick Van Dyke,’ and he goes, ‘Well, yes I am and what’s your name?’ And I said Jason — I said, ‘Can we just keep walking away from the car?’”

The car ultimately burned to a crisp, and Van Dyke’s wife came by to pick him up.

The 87-year-old actor and comedian was “the nicest, calmest guy,” Pennington said.

Van Dyke described the situation a bit differently on Twitter on Wednesday.

“My ‘rescue,’” he wrote, “was like the Boy Scout who helped the old lady across the street, who didn’t want to cross the street!!”


Van Dyke said on the day of the fire that he was simply trying to dial out for help.

Guess it’s all a matter of perspective.


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