SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A bizarre crash in a small Iowa community, a rare March wildfire prompting evacuations and a second year of COVID-19 coverage made up some of the most-viewed stories on KELOLAND.com in 2021.
Home to the latest news, weather and sports updates, here’s the top 12 most-viewed stories on KELOLAND.com from Jan. 1, 2021 to Dec. 28, 2021.
No. 1: Speeding car crashes through roof of Larchwood home
On Feb. 2, a man was driving westbound on Iowa 9, coming into Larchwood from the south, when he lost control of a vehicle and went through the roof of a home. Authorites late determined the car was going about 115 miles per hour where the speed limit is 35 mph.
The car hit a ditch, vaulted over a street and continued to be airborne for 125 feet before crashing into the roof of this house, which was unoccupied at the time of the crash. You can see video from the crash in the player below.
“When I saw the picture this morning, I couldn’t believe it, I never thought I would see a car sticking out of a roof,” Lyon County Sheriff Stewart Vander Stoep told KELOLAND News.
The man was able to get out of the vehicle and walked to a neighboring house to get help.
No. 2: Fire in Rapid City prompts evacuations
Strong winds along with warm temperatures helped spark a dangerous wildfire just outside of Rapid City on March 29. The fire prompted numerous evacuations around Rapid City as it quickly grew to 1,900 acres by the end of the day.
Authorities later announced the so-called Schroeder Fire burned 2,224 acres in western Rapid City and started from a debris/slash pile.
At least one home, two outbuildings and a porch were destroyed and nearly 500 people were evacuated.
No. 3: KELOLAND’s Don Jorgensen and his wife hurt in motorcycle crash
On Memorial Day, KELOLAND News responded to car vs. motorcycle crash in western Sioux Falls to find out it involved a longtime employee.
KELOLAND News anchor and reporter Don Jorgensen was hospitalized following the crash along with his wife, Pam. Both were hurt while riding Jorgensen’s motorcycle.
Six weeks after the crash, Jorgensen returned to the newsroom and the couple were able to thank first responders who were on the scene.
No. 4: Sturgis Rally coverage
There was plenty buzz surrounding the 2021 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally as officials were preparing for possible record crowd levels, rivaling the more than 700,000 attendees that attended the 75th Anniversary in 2015.
Two weeks before the 81st rally started, Sturgis city officials told KELOLAND News ‘the town is packed right now.”
Attendance for the 2021 rally was reported at 555,000, which was the second-highest since 2000.
During the Sturgis Rally, KELOLAND News reporter Lauren Souleck previewed her story about rally attendees seeking tattoos.
The 2022 rally is set for Aug. 5-12.
No. 5: COVID-19 coverage
Throughout 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic remained a top story in KELOLAND and across the world. KELOLAND News’ COVID-19 cases tracking page continued to be a go-to source for the latest data shared by the South Dakota Department of Health.
Two other COVID-19 stories that gained a lot views a KELOLAND.com were about a 42-year-old man who needed a double lung transplant getting COVID-19 in October 2020.
“I was a non-believer in this COVID stuff. If you would have asked me before this, I thought COVID was fake. But it’s not fake,” Nathan Foote told KELOLAND News.
In April, Foote successfully underwent a double-lung transplant and left the hospital after 185 days.
In March, the Rolling Stone magazine published a story titled “The Covid Queen of South Dakota.” The author, Stephen Rodrick, spoke about his 7,500+ word article to KELOLAND News.
Rodrick said he found South Dakota to be “more aggressively anti-mask” and blamed Gov. Kristi Noem for South Dakota’s COVID-19 death rate.
Gov. Noem’s outgoing Senior Advisor Maggie Seidel attacked the story, calling it a sexist attack on “the only Governor in America who handled Covid appropriately.” Seidel said within the story “Rodrick and his editors outlined all the reasons why they don’t like strong women.”
No. 6: Third person dies following shooting in Scotland
On. Nov. 9, authorities responded to a shooting in a home in Scotland, South Dakota. When Bon Home County Sheriff’s Office responded, authorities found two dead victims and three other people with gunshot wounds. A third victim later died.
Francis D. Lange, 42, faces nine charges including first-degree murder (3 counts), attempted murder (2 counts), and aggravated assault (5 counts).
An investigation by Special Agents with the Division of Criminal Investigation found the shooting was likely the result of a “domestic-related altercation.”
No. 7: Noem calls Ossoff, Warnock ‘communists’ in her national speech
Two days after a violent mob attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying votes for the election of Joe Biden as President of the United States, Gov. Noem called newly elected Georgia Senators “communists.”
In a condensed copy of the speech published by the Federalist, Noem said “The idea that Georgia, of all places, could elect two communists to the United States Senate was ridiculous.”
Noem spokesman Ian Fury told KELOLAND News he would let Noem’s thoughts speak for themselves.
No. 8: Parents of toddler who died after daycare incident share their story
In July, authorities in Watertown responded to a call of an unconscious toddler. The 16-month-old boy, Liam Koistinen, died from a head injury and brain bleed.
An investigation determined Watertown day care provider, Amanda Walder, admitted being firm when she put the little boy down for a nap.
In September, Liam’s parents — Jeff and Genevie Koistinen — spoke to KELOLAND News about their only child’s death.
“Everybody’s baby cries, and it doesn’t matter if you’re the parents or the babysitter or daycare worker or whatever. At some point you’re going to have a crying baby and just take a break, set the baby down, make sure the baby’s safe, and just walk away,” Jeff Koistinen said.
No. 9: Noem issues ‘style and form’ veto on women’s sports bill
Gov. Noem made more headlines in March when she issued her first veto of the 2021 legislative session to House Bill 1217, which would’ve “promoted continued fairness in women’s sports” and banned transgender girls from participating in girls sports.
The “style and form” veto Noem proposed wanted legislators to eliminate the restriction that was sought on the state’s public universities. Noem’s veto came a few weeks after she’d tweeted support for the bill and said she was “excited” to sign it into law.
A week after issueing the veto, Noem announced formation of a new coalition with a website, Defend Title IX Now, which refers to the 1973 section of federal law that provides for equal educational opportunity in programs that receive federal financial assistance.
The saga around this issue will carry into 2022 as Noem announced a proposed bill that would codify her executive orders.
No. 10: Special agents interview Ravnsborg about deadly crash
Shortly after the Hyde County deputy state’s attorney announced she was charging South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg with three misdemeanors, the South Dakota Department of Public Safety posted a trove on investigation material on its website.
The main parts released were two interviews Ravnsborg had with North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation special agents about the night his car struck and killed Joe Boever just outside of Highmore on Highway 14. In those interviews, which were eventually removed because of a judge gag order, an agent tells Ravnsborg “his face came through your windshield.”
In August, Ravnsborg’ defense attorney plead no-contest to two misdemeanors and an impeachment process remains on-going in the South Dakota House of Representatives.