Good Samaritan bends car door in half with bare hands to rescue man trapped in burning vehicle
Bob Renning’s feat took ‘superhuman strength’ and saved the motorist who was seconds from ‘a horrible death’, police said
Published 02/07/2014 | 20:10
A hero exhibiting “superhuman strength” has saved the life of a motorist trapped in a burning vehicle by bending the car's door in half with his bare hands and pulling him to safety.
Extraordinary images released by the Minneapolis State Patrol showed the scene of 52-year-old Bob Renning’s dramatic intervention, which saw him rescue a stranger who was seconds away from what police described as “a horrible death”.
Michael Johannes was driving alone back to his hometown of Minneapolis on Sunday when his car caught on fire, police said. He started to pull over to the side of the road – at which point the engine cut out altogether and the electronics stopped working.
With the electrical systems that operate the doors and windows disabled, Mr Johannes, 51, found himself trapped inside the car as it rapidly filled with smoke. He tried to kick and punch through the glass himself, but his efforts were in vain.
Mr Renning, driving in a car in front with his girlfriend, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he noticed the fire start to take hold in his rear-view mirror.
As his girlfriend called 911, he came to a stop around 200ft in front of Johannes and got out to help – starting to sprint when he saw the smoke filling up the inside of Mr Johannes’ car.
Seeing the stricken man frantically pounding the passenger-side window, Mr Renning said he gripped the top of the door frame with his fingertips, braced his foot against the lower part of the door, and pulled.
“He bent the door in half,” said State Trooper Zachary Hill, who posted his images of the scene to the force’s Facebook page. “I don’t think I could take a crowbar and fold the door like he did,” Hill said, adding that the feat took “superhuman strength”.
The door bent with such force that the window inside it shattered, and Mr Renning reached into the car to pull the man inside free. Mr Johannes, holding his breath and with the car full of smoke, said he was not aware of his rescuer’s presence until this point – and had been sure he was going to die.
“To say his actions were heroic would be putting it lightly,” said Lieutenant Eric Roeske, a spokesman for the Minnesota State Patrol. “He almost certainly saved Mr Johannes from a horrible death.”
Police said Mr Johannes was treated for minor smoke inhalation and some cuts suffered as he was pulled free through the window. Mr Renning was unharmed.
Emergency crews arrived a short while after the rescue, Roeske said, at which point the car was completely engulfed in flames. He said the cause of the fire was yet to be determined.
Though a member of the Air National Guard – the US air force’s reserve ranks – Mr Renning said he was certainly no body builder and not even especially fit. He told the Minneapolis Star Tribune he had “no clue” how he had summoned the strength to bend the door down, saying: “I’m just a slightly overweight Air Force First Sergeant, for crying out loud.”
Mr Johannes told the newspaper he had plans call his rescuer this week to thank him. “I have to talk to him,” he said. “I really want him to be recognized. Did you see the door? He saved my life.”