Skip to main content

Jeff Hanus is an American hero. He may deny it, but the truth is that this hardworking renaissance man’s quick thinking saved an Illinois woman’s life.

Hanus is a cement truck driver. In late 2023, he was waiting at a highway job site on I-55, so he took the opportunity to kick back, chew on a snack, and listen to some classical Chinese violin. (Did I mention that he is a complete renaissance man?)

Well, his well-earned break was interrupted when an SUV pulled out of oncoming traffic and directly up to the front of Hanus’ big rig. A woman jumped out and began gesturing wildly. Hanus didn’t get mad, but calmly studied her and realized that she had both her hands on her throat in the international symbol for “I’m choking.”

Cement mixer concrete truck parked at a job site
Concrete truck | Photovs via iStockPhoto

The woman, near death, had chosen the right truck. As a former Army infantryman, Hanus also has medical training. (Again, what can’t this guy do?) He leapt out of his truck, ran to the woman, and performed the Heimlich maneuver. Two thrusts of his fists and she coughed up the fast food that had nearly killed her.

She looked a bit unsteady, so Hanus escorted her back to her car. He found two terrified toddlers in the back seat. (Cue slow clap).

When interviewers called Hanus a hero he dismissed them. “I was in the right place at the right time, and I did what, in my opinion, most people would have done.” They rightfully pressed the subject. So the trucker/veteran/violin aficionado/philosopher offered a bit of wisdom we could all benefit from:

“There’s a Native American saying: it is not the path that we walk, it is how many lives we touch along the way.” 

Jeff Hanus

After the story made the news, the Chicago Bulls reached out to gift Hanus and his family courtside tickets. I’d say that’s the least Illinois can do for this inspiring hero.

Next, find out about the dad who used ratchet straps to save a woman and toddler trapped in a sinking car, or you can see the dashcam footage of Hanus saving the day in the video below: