Despite risk, North Las Vegas man aids a stranger

Don’t forget to tell the funny parts,” John Guerrero said Tuesday, a week after he pulled a woman from a burning car, possibly saving her life.

His story started off seriously. He was driving down Craig Road near Clayton Street in North Las Vegas around
7:15 p.m. on Sept. 14 with his two sons in the back seat — Ocean, 6, and Phoenix, 4. He noticed the car in front of him was smoking and commented to his sons he didn’t know how it passed the smog test. When they pulled up to a red light, he looked in his rearview mirror and saw fire dripping from beneath the car. He realized the driver was completely unaware of the danger.

Guerrero, 39, told the boys to stay in the car and jumped out, dashing to her window and pounding on it.

Now she had no idea who this man was and must have wondered whether she was going to be carjacked.

“Lady, your car’s on fire,” he yelled. “Your car’s burning.”

When he opened the car door, smoke started pouring from the underside of the vehicle.

The woman became flustered and couldn’t get her seat belt off, but he managed to pull her out of her car and into his.

Where she promptly sat on the boys’ two Happy Meals and crushed them, drinks and all.

“She sat on my Happy Meal,” Phoenix said, recognizing the real tragedy of the story. (To his dad, this was one of the funny parts.)

While badly shaking, she asked him to save her purse, so he dashed back to rescue that as well.

Within moments, the front end of the car was on fire. Another good Samaritan jumped out and was using a fire extinguisher to try to put out the fire.

The crying woman said, “My cell phone’s in the car. Can you go get my cell phone?”

The other man said, “No way.”

The car battery had exploded, and nobody knew what was coming next.

Guerrero decided it was time to get the woman and the boys away from the burning car. “Lady, your car is burning, we need to move on.”

The woman was shaking and crying, on the verge of hysteria, his oldest boy was pleading to be the one to call 911, and then there was that whole Happy Meal disaster. There wasn’t much time for conversation, although Guerrero did ask her how she didn’t notice the car was on fire.

“I thought I smelled something,” she said. (He thinks that’s one of the funny parts.)

The North Las Vegas Fire Department arrived quickly and got the car fire under control.

The woman told paramedics she was all right and didn’t need treatment, so Guerrero figured it was time to get the kids home. “I gave her a hug and left.”

He didn’t exchange information with the woman and doesn’t know her name.

But first, he returned to McDonald’s to replace those precious Happy Meals.

His sons, who now call themselves “the 911 boys,” won’t forget seeing their dad in action.

Heroism to save someone you love is nothing to sneer at, but sort of expected. Police, firefighters and military folks do heroic things every day, but they’re better trained than most. But there’s something special about strangers helping strangers in danger at risk to themselves.

Guerrero, a convention coordinator at The Venetian, was observant and took immediate action. The North Las Vegas man could have been like so many others, entombed in their vehicles, oblivious and indifferent. Not his style.

George Clooney plays a man of action, but John Guerrero is a man of action. Would you, could you, have done the same?

Jane Ann Morrison’s column appears Monday, Thursday and Saturday. E-mail her at or call (702) 383-0275. She also blogs at

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