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'I got a lot of love for that guy': Man credits Montgomery Co. sergeant with saving wife's life during storm

Body-worm camera shows moment tree falls on Sgt. Todd Dollen's car
Posted at 8:30 PM, May 22, 2024

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Iowa (KMTV) — Sgt. Todd Dollen raced down Highway 34 to warn campers at Hacklebarney Wood County Park to take cover. He found Robbie Keeler's wife in their camper. She made it to safety just in time, but the couple's camper was torn to pieces. Dollen got trapped in his vehicle when a tree fell on it.

  • Video shows ..a body-worn camera footage from a Montgomery County sergeant who rode out a tornado in his cruiser after alerting neighbors at a campground; damage at Hacklebarney Woods County Park near Villisca, Iowa including severely damaged RVs.
  • “I got a lot of love for that guy. I don’t know who he is but I got a lot of respect for him,” said Keeler.
  • “Usually, we try to not get ourselves into the storm ... that was my first experience having to ride one out and it wasn’t that much fun,” said Dollen.

BROADCAST TRANSCRIPT:

I'm Katrina Markel, your southwest iowa neighborhood reporter.

I'm in Hacklebarney county park where — as you can see — there is a lot of damage. but thankfully, no fatalities. And that is in part due to the sheriff’s deputy who refused to give up on a woman in the RV park even as the storm beared down on this community.

Robbie Keeler was looking through the remnants of his camper when he told me someone from the Montgomery County Sheriff’s office saved his wife’s life.

She was napping, in their camper, at Hacklebarney Woods when the severe storms swept through.

“I got a lot of love for that guy. I don’t know who he is but I got a lot of respect for him,” said Keeler.

It was Sgt. Todd Dollen who raced up Highway 34 to the campground, making sure neighbors made it to shelter, barely ahead of the storm.

“I exited my vehicle and I knocked on the four campers that were there and by the time I was getting back to my vehicle, I knew it was getting very close,” Sgt. Dollen said.

At that point, Mrs. Keeler fled to the cinderblock, shower building.

Dollen was driving to the shelter when a tree fell on his cruiser. Unable to move it, the sergeant had no choice but to stay put. The moment captured on his body-worn camera.

“Usually, we try to not get ourselves into the storm ... that was my first experience having to ride one out and it wasn’t that much fun,” he said.

Dollen reminds neighbors: a vehicle is not a safe place to be in a tornado, but he and Mrs. Keeler made it through the storm safely.

“My camper went from this parking spot over here ... and is now located over here behind what I call a maintenance shed,” said Keeler. “Thank God for the Montgomery County Sheriff’s department because they’re the ones that saved by wife.”

At Hacklebarney campground, near Villisca, I’m your Southwest Iowa neighborhood reporter, Katrina Markel.