SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) –On April 12th, 2011, a failed prison escape turned deadly.
Two inmates murdered longtime correctional officer Ron “RJ” Johnson… hitting him over the head with a metal pipe and stealing his uniform for a disguise.

Rodney Berget and Eric Robert never made it past the prison’s west gate and would later be executed for the crime.

The Missouri River flood of 2011 pushed dams to their limits and threatened homes and communities from Pierre to Dakota Dunes.

“The inundation maps that the corps of engineers show that most residential areas will flood”

As the water flowed south, Governor Dennis Daugaard warned people to pack up their belongings and plan for extended evacuations.

“without the ability to return possibly for as long as two months.”

People eventually returned to long lines and heavy security…to find out if their homes had weathered the flood.

Looks like a war zone

In 2013, an Ice Storm hit Sioux Falls… sending branches and power poles tumbling to the ground.

“Sounded like a whole forest coming down at once, like an avalanche. There was a lot of snap, crackle, and pop, and stuff went everywhere,” Jason Wicks said in 2013.
“I heard a loud (noise) and it went right across my son’s swing set and our fence and everything fell, so it was very scary to watch,” Amanda Hanten said in 2013.

More than a half inch of ice coated just about everything, knocking out power to 53,000 homes and making it difficult to get around.

In 2015, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office responded to two shootings.
The first was at Sioux Steel in Lennox.
In February, an employee opened fire, killing a man and injuring a woman before turning the gun on himself.

In October, the call came from Harrisburg High School.
A student walked into the office with a gun and shot and injured the principal before the gun jammed.
He was tackled and held until law enforcement arrived.

That fall the investigation into a house fire near Platte also made headlines.
Authorities determined Scott Westerhuis shot his entire family, started his house of fire and then shot himself.
It was all in an effort to cover up a scandal that siphoned millions of dollars in grant money that was supposed to go to Native American education programs.

In December of 2016, the Copper Lounge building collapsed in downtown Sioux Falls killing a construction worker and trapping Emily Fodness under several feet of rubble.

“So I’m in here thinking, does anyone know I’m in here and that was frightening to me.”

Emily’s mattress fell on top of her, protecting her from the rubble and her phone was nearby. When it started to ring, she found it and told her mom she was still alive.

Eventually crews uncovered her dog, who led searchers to the spot they needed to dig.
After three hours they found her.

I was in shock that I could see the sky, but then the entire way down I was so grateful, you know, I wasn’t trying to move but I kept going back and forth just thanking them.

In May of 2018, the news hit close to home here at KELOLAND News, when longtime anchor and reporter Angela Kennecke lost her oldest daughter Emily to fentanyl poisoning. .

“In recent years, we have brought you many stories on the opioid crisis. But now, the opioid crisis has hit home in a tragic and devastating way for me personally, gulp.”

Angela shared her story in hopes of helping others.
She also started Emily’s Hope to end the stigma surrounding substance use disorder and to help more people get the treatment they need.

On a cold February day in 2019, a nine-year-old girl named Serenity Dennard walked away from from the Black Hills Children’s Home Society, near Rockerville.
The disappearance led to one of the most expansive searches the state has ever seen. Tips came in from all over the country…

“We have five investigators that are assigned to this, this is all they’re doing.”

Despite those efforts… the search for Serenity continues today.

“We’re in the area, there’s power out all over the place here”

On September 10th, 2019, in a matter of just five minutes, three EF2 tornados touched down in Sioux Falls.
The storm destroyed businesses and homes…

“Here’s what’s left of our living room,” Matt Ditmansons said.

And just like any storm that hits KELOLAND… the tornadoes tore apart property, but brought people together.

“We’re safe, things can be replaced, neighbors are great, we’ll take one step at a time, we’ll rebuild and start over again,” Ditmanson said.