The first thing Drew Hanson heard as he left work on the morning of Dec. 21 was “the bang,” he said. Around 9:30 a.m., as he pulled up to the stoplight at Front and Clinton streets in Hempstead near Town Hall, a driver ran the intersection and collided with another car.
“It startled me,” he said, but despite this, Hanson was quick to help the individuals involved in the accident. Checking for oncoming traffic, Hanson drove across the intersection to a corner and parked his Jeep on the sidewalk to get closer to the crash. “I was the first on the scene.”
Hanson, a Bellmore resident and Town Hall employee, was recognized for his actions at a Town Board meeting on Jan. 21. Supervisor Donald Clavin and the board saluted Hanson and other residents for utilizing their “‘superpowers’ to save the lives of fellow neighbors,” according to a press release.
“Everyday heroes live among us,” Clavin said in the release. “It could be anyone: A next-door neighbor, a local business owner, or in today’s case, a coworker. Unfortunately, we don’t always hear the stories of people [who are] everyday heroes, but today is our lucky day.”
Hanson, 59, has worked in Town Hall for 10 years as a building maintenance supervisor. The hollow sounds that echoed from the parking garage just outside his office were shrouded by classic rock tunes that streamed through a clock radio. Here, Hanson told the Herald Life about the day of the accident.
The driver who ran the light was able to get out of his vehicle, but the family in the second car was not. “The car was in pretty bad shape,” Hanson recalled. “The [air]bags were deployed and created some kind of white smoke, so I couldn’t see inside.”
But he could hear screaming. A mother sitting in the front seat asked Hanson to help her out of the car, and he was able to get the driver’s side door open. As he was helping the mother, Hanson saw her two young children in the backseat. “I got the kids out and put them on the sidewalk,” he said.
Hanson made sure the family was safe until first responders arrived to the scene. The mother thanked him, and one of the children, a three-year-old boy, asked Hanson if his family would get a new car. Hanson looked over to the mother and said, “Yeah, I think so,” which caused her to crack a small smile.
Councilman Christopher Carini commended his constituent for his actions. “He did this heroically without any regard for his own safety, only thinking about the occupants in the car,” he said. “Drew . . . is a fantastic employee and liked by all. We are proud to have residents and employees like him.”
Though his actions were heroic, Hanson said he doesn’t consider himself a hero. “I just did something that I think everybody should do,” he said. In his early 20s, he served as a squad leader in the Marine Corps. In those six years he learned, “We don’t leave anybody behind.”
“Our first responders in the Town of Hempstead are ready to respond to protect their communities 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Clavin said in the release. “We thank all members of the community who go above and beyond the call of duty to protect their fellow neighbors.”
Hanson lives in Bellmore with his wife, Michele, and his children, Jena and Jake.