San Rafael, CA — An alert guide dog saved two people on Monday from being run over by a runaway car going backwards on the sidewalk.
The man and woman were instructors for Guide Dogs for the Blind who were taking a mid-morning stroll with O’Neil, a yellow Lab, when they were nearly run over by the wrong-way driver. They were taking a walk in the area to assess the canine’s guide dog skills, which turned out to be quite good.
O’Neill was the first of the group to become aware of the out-of-control car heading directly towards them. The seemingly near-death experience was captured by surveillance video (see embed below).
According to training supervisor Todd Jurek, ” ‘It was just an unbelievable sight to see something going backwards, barreling down the sidewalk.’ He quickly herded the fellow employee and dog out of harm’s way when he noticed the dog jerk its head to look behind them.”
The other trainer, Danielle Alvarado, an apprentice instructor, was actually blindfolded as part of the training exercise while all this was going on. The assistance dog was the first of the trio to sense that the trainers were in serious danger. “The surveillance video shows the three walking down Fourth and then Jurek running and pushing Alvarado around an E Street corner seconds before a black car speeds backwards down the sidewalk, smashing a store window and finally coming to rest on the opposite corner of Fourth and E streets. Jurek said he heard the glass window break, but it was O’Neil who turned his head first to see what was happening.”
Fortunately, no one was injured in this incident including the 93-year-old driver of the vehicle. Reportedly the motorist may have lost control when she tried to parallel park and put the vehicle in reverse rather than in drive. To be on the safe side, police have notified the DMV to schedule a driving re-test for the woman, however.
The trainers also have taken steps to verify that O’Neill came out of the incident okay. “Jurek said O’Neil underwent a series of tests on Tuesday to ensure he was not traumatized by the incident. Guide Dogs for the Blind says it hopes to have the courageous pup placed with an individual sometime in the coming weeks.”
[top image via Shutterstock]