By Vanessa Bauza
Tribune staff reporter
Snowplow driver Demetrius Duplessis was determined to pull Khushboo Jani
from her burning car — even if she didn’t quite realize she needed rescuing.
Duplessis was driving east on the Eisenhower Expressway at 8 a.m. Saturday when
he spotted a black Honda on the left shoulder with flames and smoke billowing
from the engine. He pulled over, used his snowplow to block swift-moving
traffic and jumped out of his vehicle.
But as Duplessis approached the car, Jani,
22, who was talking to her father on her cell phone, tried to lock the doors.
"I was going to call 911. I saw him and got really scared," said Jani
of Schaumburg. "He’s like, ‘Get out of the car.’ I’m like, ‘No.’ I just
thought the engine broke down."
Duplessis knew better.
"I grabbed the door and opened it real quick and snatched her out of the
car," he said. "She still didn’t realize the car was on fire."
A driver with the Illinois Department of Transportation’s Emergency Traffic
Patrol quickly doused the flames with a hand-held extinguisher. Jani’s car was
towed but she still needed to get to Roosevelt
University to take a
final exam in physics.
"Her biggest concern [was] getting there in time to take the test,"
Illinois State Police Trooper Greg Jones said. "One of the troopers took
her to the college."
Duplessis, 44, of Montgomery
has worked as an IDOT snowplow driver for five years. He does not consider
himself a hero. However, he said he hopes if his own college-age daughter ever
finds herself in a similar predicament that a good Samaritan will be there to
Jani, who made it to her exam, was relieved Duplessis came along when he did.
"I’m really glad that he did what he did. I’m really grateful for