Veteran Hollywood actor and comic Dick Van Dyke had a lucky escape yesterday when he was pulled from his burning car by a passer-by.
Van Dyke, best known for his starring role in the films Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Mary Poppins, as well as long-running TV crime drama Diagnosis: Murder, was rescued from his burning Jaguar XJ by fellow motorist Jason Pennington.
Pennington said he'd been driving along Route 101 in Calabasas, California, when he noticed a car on the hard shoulder that was filled with smoke. He added that he'd spotted an elderly man inside, struggling to get out.
With the aid of two off-duty nurses, Pennington managed to open the driver's door of the car and pull the 87-year-old star from his car. Thanks to their prompt actions, Van Dyke didn't require any medical attention, and later joked about the incident on twitter, posting a picture of the wrecked car with the message "Used Jag for sale REAL CHEAP!!"
The cause of the fire has not yet been established, though eyewitnesses suggest it started in the engine compartment.
It's not the first time Van Dyke has had a close shave in recent years – in November 2010, a pod of porpoises nudged him to the shore after he fell asleep on his surfboard. "I woke up out of sight of land," he said at the time. "I started paddling with the swells and I started seeing fins around me and I thought 'I'm dead!' They turned out to be porpoises, and they pushed me all the way to shore."