Man saves driver by prying car open with bare hands

Minneapolis, MN -- Mike Johannes and Bob Renning got together Tuesday night over beer and cigars to talk over an incident that could have turned out much worse than it did.

On Sunday night, Johannes was driving his 2006 Chevy Trailblazer on interstate 35W, northeast of Minneapolis, when he noticed smoke coming out the back.

"I hit the brakes, they just went to the floor, and I don't know how it stopped," Johannes said.

Cellphone video taken along the interstate that night shows the intensity of the fire. From his car, Renning saw it, too, reports CBS News' Dean Reynolds. He pulled over and ran to the burning vehicle.

"I can't see who or what is in the vehicle itself until I get a little bit closer and see the bottom of shoes kicking against the glass on the passenger side," Renning said.

Johannes was determined to escape. "I just didn't feel it was gonna be my time," he said. "There's no way I wanted to burn."

But the car's door locks were stuck, and Johannes was trapped. Neither man was able to pull or push the doors open. So Renning tried another approach: bending the door's frame with his bare hands.

"I still don't know how I did this, but I managed to get my fingers in behind the door frame along the top, and just started pulling until the glass shattered," Renning said.

Johannes knew what he had to do.

"I saw the light towards the passenger side, and I just went for it," he said. "And then he grabbed my hands and just pulled me out and we rolled into the ditch."

Johannes was treated for smoke inhalation. He also suffered a few cuts and bruises and feels a little sore, but is thankful to be alive.

"I owe a debt of gratitude to Bob," Johannes said. "He saved my life. There's a 7-year-old girl, and my wife that owe a lot."

Renning thinks he did what most people would have done, and thinks Johannes was the one who showed true courage that night.

"I can't even begin to imagine what he was going through inside that car," Renning said. "He kept calm and cool throughout the whole process, and I think that's amazing."