Taco John’s worker saves a life after fighting for his own

Published: Jul. 18, 2021 at 9:52 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Fast action by a fast-food manager in Sioux Falls may have saved a women’s life, and the journey to that moment is making it even more special.

It started as a normal day at Taco John’s in Southeast Sioux Falls, when a woman started choking and that’s when Justin Hageman stepped in to help.

“I just feel like God put me in the right place right time,” Taco John’s Facility Manager Justin Hageman said.

As Hageman was outside of Taco John’s last Tuesday during his shift, a pair of customers that ordered in the drive-thru needed help.

“She jumped out, the driver did, and said her friend was having issues choking,” he added.

So, Hageman acted fast, “I had seen the Heimlich (maneuver) and thought ‘Let’s give this a whirl’. It took five or six good sharp jabs with it then you could hear her start breathing.”

That lifesaving reaction earned him a visit from Taco John’s International.

“She had a bunch of lifesavers for me for a Life Saver award,” Hageman said.

But this action came at a unique time, as it was Hageman’s 5th day back to work after spending the last nine months battling stage 4 Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.

“Since November I’ve had six rounds of chemo and then I’ve had 17 treatments of radiation and so far, I’m in remission,” added Hageman.

And it’s that cancer journey that made life more precious, and made saving a life even more special.

“I mean I try not to take anything for granted now, I mean every day is a gift. I didn’t think anything other than the life, she was definitely in jeopardy of losing hers. She was in trouble, do what you can to help,” said Hageman.

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