Minnesota hero uses bare hands to free driver of burning SUV

Tue Jul 1, 2014 11:58am EDT

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(Reuters) - A Minnesota man used his bare hands to pry open a passenger-side door of a burning sport utility vehicle and save a trapped motorist from near-certain death, police said Tuesday.

The incident has left police marveling at the actions of Bob Renning, 52, who - apparently fueled by a burst of adrenaline - pried open the door of Minneapolis resident Michael Johannes's 2006 Chevrolet TrailBlazer on Sunday evening.

"To say his actions were heroic would be putting it lightly," said Lieutenant Eric Roeske, spokesman for the Minnesota State Patrol. "He almost certainly saved Mr. Johannes from a horrible death."

Renning was driving along an interstate freeway at about 6:30 p.m. CDT when he noticed the SUV on fire in a suburb north of Minneapolis, Roeske said.

After motioning for Johannes to pull over, Renning approached the burning vehicle, Roeske said.

Johannes, 51, tried to get out on his own, but the electrical system was disabled and he could not unlock the doors, Roeske said.

That is when Renning bent open the top of the passenger door, cleared the shattered glass from the window and pulled Johannes to safety, Roeske said. Soon after, the truck was entirely engulfed in flames.

Johannes escaped the incident with minor injuries, and the cause of the fire is not yet clear, Roeske said.

"Vehicle fires get hot incredibly fast and oftentimes the opportunity for rescue is very short," Roeske said. "It was a good thing Mr. Renning was there and able to pry that door open."

(Reporting by Jonathan Kaminsky in New Orleans; editing by Gunna Dickson)

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