2013-08-22 / Front Page

Van Dyke incident no sitcom, but not as serious as first reported

By Sylvie Belmond


IN THE HOT SEAT—Actor Dick Van Dyke discusses with Highway Patrol officers what happened to his Jaguar the afternoon of Aug. 19 on the 101 Freeway in Calabasas. Van Dyke escaped the fire uninjured. 
Courtesy of CHP IN THE HOT SEAT—Actor Dick Van Dyke discusses with Highway Patrol officers what happened to his Jaguar the afternoon of Aug. 19 on the 101 Freeway in Calabasas. Van Dyke escaped the fire uninjured. Courtesy of CHP Veteran Hollywood actor Dick Van Dyke, 87, was shaken but uninjured Monday after his car caught fire on the 101 Freeway in Calabasas.

At 2 p.m. Aug. 19, the California Highway Patrol received a call about a car fire on the eastbound 101 at Parkway Calabasas. CHP confirmed that the driver of the vehicle was Van Dyke, a Malibu resident.

Initial reports said a man in a passing vehicle stopped his car and pulled the actor from his burning Jaguar, which was destroyed in the blaze.

According to TMZ, the motorist told CHP that Van Dyke appeared to be passed out at the wheel.

But on Tuesday, CHP Officer Leland Tang refuted the TMZ story and told The Acorn that Van Dyke was able to exit the vehicle on his own.

“People are creating more than it is. The guy only opened the door,” Tang said.

“We had a unit across on the other side of freeway that watched him (Van Dyke) pull his car on the side of the shoulder. It looked like it had an overheating radiator,” Tang said.

Van Dyke reportedly was on the phone with AAA when the man opened his door. By the time the car became engulfed in flames the actor was sitting on the side of the road safe and unharmed.

“He was in shock and bummed out. It was a fairly new Jaguar,” Tang said.

The fire department put out the blaze and checked on Van Dyke, who was traveling alone.

Arlene Van Dyke, the actor’s wife, arrived to pick him up and later reported on Twitter that her husband was “fine.”

She also posted a video showing her husband speaking with CHP officers next to the remains of his burned-out car.

This was the third time a car fire has occurred on this stretch of the 101 Freeway in the last three weeks. On Sunday a car fire sparked a brush fire that consumed 175 acres between Lost Hills and Las Virgenes roads.

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