Guide dog in training helps save handlers from speeding car

If not for guide-dog-in-training O’Neil’s quick actions, Todd Jurek and Danielle Alvarado could have been killed. (Photo credit: KTVU)

A guide dog in the middle of his field training test exercise is being hailed a hero for saving the lives of his two trainers when a 93-year-old woman lost control of her vehicle, jumping the sidewalk and speeding towards the trio.

Monday morning, training supervisor for Guide Dogs for the Blind Todd Jurek and apprentice instructor Danielle Alvarado were taking a walk in San Rafael, Calif., with guide dog in training, Labrador Retriever O’Neil, when suddenly, the unimaginable happened — a car was plowing right towards them in reverse (video below).

“It was just an unbelievable sight to see something going backwards, barreling down the sidewalk,” Jurek remembers.

Jurek tells KTVU.com that he was busy instructing Alvarado, who was blindfolded during the training exercise, so it was O’Neil who noticed the danger first.

“He kind of alerted me that there was something pretty bad happening behind us,” explains Jurek.

“He reacted probably two seconds before I did,” Jurek says of O’Neil. “He turned around, saw it, then I turned around [and] saw it.”

When O’Neil saw the speeding car plowing towards them, the loyal Lab jumped into action, pushing Jurek and Alvarado out of the way of the vehicle. Jurek tells MercuryNews.com he grabbed onto Alvarado’s arm and yelled “go, go, go!” just as one of the car’s doors flew off.

“My thought was, is this car going to continue around the corner and are its debris going to fly at us?” Jurek remembers.

The car came to a stop after hitting a city bench and smashing into a store window. Amazingly, no one, including the terrified elderly driver, was injured in the accident.

“The worst could have happened,” says Jurek. “And just where we were positioned and how it happened, it’s pretty incredible nobody got hurt.”

Security cameras captured the entire event, and the footage shows just how close the Guide Dogs for the Blind trio came to disaster. Jurek is quick to credit O’Neil for following his instincts and saving all of their lives.

“You can’t train a dog for such a dramatic incident,” Jurek explains.

Following his frightening experience, O’Neil passed his evaluation and is expected to graduate from the guide dog training program within the next two to three weeks.

Sources: MercuryNews.com, KTVU.com