Juan Carlos Guerrero, leading trainer at Parx Racing, performed an act of heroism July 18 when he pulled eight people from an overturned minivan on busy Interstate 95 near the Benjamin Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia.
Guerrero, who sits atop the Parx trainer standings with 88 wins, 38 more than nearest rival Phil Aristone, was driving to the Bensalem Township, Pa., racetrack at about 6:45 a.m. EDT from his home in New Jersey when he saw the minivan swerve to avoid another car, flip over, and careen into the guardrail, coming to rest on its roof. Though traffic slowed, nobody was pulling over to help.
“I said to myself, ‘Are you kidding me?’ ” Guerrero said. “I drove my car alongside the minivan, jumped out, and saw there were eight people inside. I didn’t want to break a window and have glass fly all over, so I tried the handle on the back hatch, and it opened.”
Once Guerrero opened the back, he began pulling people out. Most were dazed and bleeding, and none of them spoke English except the driver. One older woman who was in the front passenger seat was badly injured, he said.
“I started to smell smoke, so I knew I had to hurry and get her out of there,” said Guerrero, who was slightly burned from the hot muffler. “I got into the front of the van, put my legs on the console, put my arms underneath her shoulders, and was able to lift her up.”
When Philadelphia police arrived 10 minutes later, Guerrero said he was largely ignored, and the only person to thank him was the young woman driver.
“I didn’t do it for the glory, I did it to help them,” Guerrero said. “I thank God no one was killed.”
Afterward Guerrero continued on to Parx Racing, where he trained his horses and told a handful of people about the accident. When asked if they believed his story, he said: “All they had to look was look at me—I had blood on my sneakers, my arms, and my shirt. They knew I wasn’t making it up.”