Truck driver performs Heimlich on choking woman along highway

The retired Army sergeant says he acted on instinct when he saw the woman in distress. (WLS, OZINGA, CNN)
Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 10:59 PM CST
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BOLINGBROOK, Ill. (AP) - A truck driver who saved a choking woman after she pulled over along a Chicago-area highway says he acted on instinct when he saw her in distress.

Jeff Hanus was working at a job site on Nov. 4 pouring concrete for the company Ozinga when the woman drove up to his truck parked near Interstate 55 in the Chicago suburb of Bolingbrook. She exited her car, leaving two children inside, and approached Hanus.

“She raises her hands up towards her throat, and that’s the international sign for choking, so I asked, ‘Are you choking?’ and she clearly said yes,” Hanus, a retired Army sergeant from Hazel Crest, told WLS-TV.

He performed the Heimlich maneuver on the woman, twice thrusting his fists into her abdomen before whatever was choking her dislodged.

“Instinct took over. I try to live my life both from my heart and my gut, and that’s what was in control,” Hanus said.

Video from Hanus’ truck shows the woman leave her car and then approach Hanus, who had jumped out of his truck when he noticed her. Once her throat was cleared, the woman returned to her vehicle, where Hanus said two toddlers were in the back.

He said the woman didn’t speak with him immediately after he helped her, other than indicating that she was now OK.

“It seemed she was pretty shaken up. So I don’t think she was in the mood for a conversation,” he said.

Hanus said his interaction with the woman was a reminder of a good friend who died from choking a few years ago. He said he’s grateful the woman found him in a sea of traffic.

“Her angels and my angels got together, and it worked out,” he said.