Wow: Guy rips open door, pulls driver from burning car

From the never-ceases-to-amaze file: A regular guy rips open the door of a burning car with his bare hands and saves the driver.

The State Patrol today reported this astonishing tale: A Woodbury man driving on Interstate 35W in New Brighton notices a nearby car on fire. He flags down the driver, they both pull over; suddenly the car fills with smoke and the driver’s trapped.

Instead of running away, Robert Renning, “with his bare hands bent the locked door in half from the top down. The glass shattered and Renning reached in and pulled (the driver) to safety,” the State Patrol said.

Calling it incredible doesn’t do it justice. Here’s the State Patrol’s report:

A Woodbury man saved a motorist’s life yesterday when he pried open a car door and pulled the man from a burning vehicle just before 6:40 p.m. on I-35W and County Road D in New Brighton.

Robert Renning was headed southbound when he noticed a nearby vehicle on fire. He flagged down the motorist — Michael Johannes of Minneapolis — and both vehicles pulled over.

Johannes’ vehicle immediately became engulfed in smoke and the electronic locks and windows failed. The frantic driver unsuccessfully tried to kick out the windows. Renning ran to the car and — with his bare hands — bent the locked door in half from the top down. The glass shattered and Renning reached in and pulled Johannes to safety.

Renning was unharmed and Johannes suffered minor smoke inhalation and sustained light cuts from being pulled through the shattered window.

Trooper Zachary Hill responded to the scene and took pictures of the car fire’s aftermath.

“He did an extraordinary deed, bending a locked car door in half of a burning car to extricate a trapped person,” Hill said. “I feel this man deserves any and all commendation for his extraordinary life-saving measure that kept another from burning alive.”

  • Awesome. Just awesome. We’d like to buy that man a beer for sure!

    • J F Hanson

      I suspect Google is your friend–or maybe the White Pages, or the HP.

  • Nick Benson

    Good thing that guy wasn’t driving with Kryptonite, holy cow! Can’t imagine how much adrenaline must have been getting dumped into both of those guys.

  • Kenny Novak

    I drove there minutes after it happened last night. I had no idea of the heroics that had gone on!

  • know jesus no peace

    you’re telling me that not every car has a manual lock on the door? I doubt it. In this case, we should ridicule the driver of the burning car as in idiot. Nonetheless, kudos to the hero of the story.

    • Julie OConnor

      So, know jesus, I take it that you’ve never experienced a potentially life-ending event? …That you have never experienced the panic that overrides logic? To ridicule someone as an idiot shows zero grace, and says nothing about the ridiculed… but it does show the true colors of the ridiculer. If you Know Jesus, then how do you think he’d treat the guy in the car?? Probably a bit more gently than calling him an idiot… just sayin’.

      • Adam Raymond Ravenhurst

        Exactly what I was going to say. If you have no experience of or training for an emergency situation, there’s no telling how a person would react. I feel like I could keep a level head in any situation, but I just cannot say that I wouldn’t turn into a panicky mess given circumstances like this.

      • know jesus no peace

        Oh I am so hurt. Actually I got into an accident last year. Car spun out of control and had two screaming kids. In that time, do you think panic was going to help? How about prayer? No, it is you and anyone out that could help.

        Grace is a human trait, not just limited to christians. Surprise, not all believers are mean and sinful.

        • J F Hanson

          however, you do appear to be trying to demonstrate that you are.

      • Tired of the neg


    • StephanieAndDavid

      My car doesn’t have a manual lock. Some don’t.
      Why would you ridicule the driver? Even if he had made a mistake, which apparently he had not, that’s no reason to be a bully. Are we all so mean that we hide behind the internet and mock others? And you call yourself a Christian. Please try to be charitable.

      • Brittany

        It’s worth noting that he doesn’t consider himself a Christian—his name means if you know Jesus, you DON’T know peace (know Jesus, no peace). Anyway, yeah, this guy sucks.

      • Starquest

        Yes your car does have a manual lock. Every car does.

        • know jesus no peace

          this is as stupid as people who don’t know how to open their doors without their remote. There is a keyhole!! surprise!

      • know jesus no peace

        what car do you have? They moved away from the hidden latch in the 80’s i thought so in cases of emergencies, people can still get out.

    • Brittany

      I think it’s safe to say the idiot in this situation is the guy who’s trying to act tough in the comment section of a news article. Get with it you total douche.

    • Tired of people who are negs

      Hey why can’t you be positive instead of a grouch…

  • StephanieAndDavid

    Them Minnesotans are sure big and strong, you betcha!

  • Homer

    With the windows up, I know of no automobile where you can get hold of the top of the door. It’s great that this man survived what ever happen to him, but I suspect there’s something not quite right with this story. Heroes are needed so heroes get made.

    • Brittany

      The window has nothing to do with the top of the door. I’ve gotten my fingers under the top of a door where it meets the rubber seam plenty of times when a window has been rolled up.


  • Andrew Owens

    If he bent a locked door, why is the door fine in the picture? The passenger side door is bent, so why did they take a pic of the other side if the stories all about the bent door?

    • Shakemyheadatdoubters

      Look at the first pic. Passenger door bent down. Second pic of driver side is to illustrate the damage. Also, it’s very easy to get a good grip on the tops of most car doors. Many vehicles have locks that are impossible to be able to unlock manually.

      • Starquest

        Every car has a manual lock/unlock lever inside. Every single car.

        • know jesus no peace

          exactly. But everyone loves a heroic story but forgets to introspect the moron who should’ve just flipped the latch and get out safely. But instead, making it harder for the hero to save him and put both in further danger of worse burns.

        • Larswald

          I don’t think so…

        • Ranae


  • Ann Abdelzaher

    My question is why didn’t the guy just pull the door handle? every newer car I have ever driven with power locks is able to be unlocked and opened by pulling the interior door handle. While I think it is amazing (and yes you can get a grip on the top of a door… how do you think the towing companies unlock doors?) that this guy did this I think the driver was panicking about getting his possessions out of the car more so than himself.

  • AMButler

    This man should be nominated for the Carnegie medal for his bravery.