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Hero Down: Illinois State Police Trooper Todd ‘Happy’ Hanneken Dies In Crash While On Duty

Bondville, IL – Illinois State Police (ISP) Master Trooper Todd “Happy” Hanneken died in the line of duty following a single-vehicle collision on March 25.

The 45-year-old trooper was traveling westbound on Illinois 10 near County Road 600 East at approximately 10:42 a.m. when his patrol vehicle drove off the south side of the roadway, struck a utility pole, and slammed into a tree, The News-Gazette reported.

“Trooper Hanneken was extracted from the vehicle and was taken by Airlife to an area hospital with life-threatening injuries,” the ISP said in a press release later that night.

He succumbed to his injuries at 11:45 a.m.

ISP Director Brendan Kelly said Trooper Hanneken was out on patrol and was not responding to a call at the time of the crash, The News-Gazette reported.

“It is with profound heartache and unfathomable sadness that I inform you of the death of Trooper Todd Hanneken,” Director Kelly said in the agency’s press release. “We are asking the public to respectfully give consideration to the family of Trooper Hanneken and the ISP while we grieve and work through this tragedy.”

Director Kelly noted there was “nothing suspicious or nefarious” about the deadly collision, and said investigators do not believe there was “any sort of criminal aspect” involved, The News-Gazette reported.

“This is a sad moment,” the director told the paper. “We are hurting.

The exact cause of the crash remains under investigation.

Trooper Hanneken, a 20-year ISP veteran, was awarded the Medal of Honor in 2019 for having jumped on the hood of a burning car and broken out the windshield to rescue a man trapped inside, The News-Gazette reported.

“Thank God for people like Todd. Thank God for people like the Hanneken family,” Director Kelly said. “Our hearts are broken today, but our spirit is not.”

Trooper Hanneken leaves behind his wife, Michelle, as well as his sons, Nick and Ben, according to The News-Gazette.

He is also survived by his father, retired ISP Trooper Jerry Hanneken, his mother, Vickie, and his brother, Chad, the state police said.

The ISP released a statement from the fallen trooper’s family on Saturday, WICS reported.

“Todd Hanneken fulfilled his lifelong dream of becoming an Illinois State Trooper. He never wanted to do anything else in life as his career but be a road trooper,” his family said.

“However, this was just his career. It did not define him or fully represent him. His family and friends did,” they continued. “He served and protected for them, and for all of us. He did this in what he would describe as just doing his job. He helped people, often times going above and beyond with no one noticing but that’s what he did.”

Trooper Hanneken’s family said he was a “tough guy on the outside, but a loving, compassionate person on the inside.”

“We want the world to know he was a great husband, father, son, brother, and friend,” the statement read. “His legacy will be entrusted in all of us to carry forward.”

Trooper Hanneken will be laid to rest on April 1, according to his obituary.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Illinois State Police Master Trooper Todd “Happy” Hanneken, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin


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