“He was a hero in every sense of the word,” – man remembers state trooper who saved his life in 2018


Champaign County, Ill. (WCIA) —

Trooper Todd Hanneken is being remembered as a hero. He was a Medal of Honor recipient for saving the life of a man after a crash in 2018. Andrew Bergan, an IDOT worker, says he wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for Trooper Hanneken.

“For him to do that, it does make him a hero,” Charleston firefighter Phillip Matar said.

In May 2018, Illinois State Trooper Todd Hanneken risked his life to save an another.

“It definitely takes a special man to do something like he did. That is not something that is part of their job at all,” Matar said.

After a series of car crashes on Interstate 57, an IDOT vehicle burst into flames. The driver’s door pinned shut by another car. Matar arrived to the accident to see Trooper Hanneken on top of a burning car.

“He was up on the windshield trying to kick it out when I arrived,” Matar said.

Trooper Hanneken was risking his life to save Andrew Bergan with the Illinois Department of Transportation. He pulled Bergan through the passenger window to safety.

“I don’t know how many people would be willing to do that, but he was a special one. There’s no doubt about it. He was a hero in every sense of the word,” Bergan said.

He says he wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for Trooper Hanneken. Bergan says the state trooper was not the type of person to show off his involvement.

“He’d always shift responsibility or downplay everything he did… So yeah, obviously he was a really special guy,” Bergan said.

For his heroic acts, Hanneken was given the Medal of Honor in October 2019. An honor both Bergan and Matar say was so deserved.

“His family ought to be very, very proud of his accomplishments. He is, like I said, he went above and beyond that day for sure,” Matar said.

Hanneken was the type of guy who went above and beyond everyday. He visited Bergan in the hospital and they continued talking and getting lunch.

“And we were going to have lunch again. I really think we would’ve talked for the rest of our lives,” Bergan said.

Bergan says knowing that is no longer the case is hard.

“It really hasn’t sunk in. It’s going to be really difficult,” Bergan said.

Social media has been flooded with condolences to Trooper Hanneken’s family. Asa Smith wrote on our Facebook page that he was there when the state trooper saved Bergan’s life.

“He went right to work getting that guy out of the car.. It was the most heroic thing I’ve ever seen. He was a real hero,” Smith said.

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