The town of Annawan and its first responders are getting a shout-out from a couple who says they owe the small town in a big way for finding their missing dog after a serious car crash.
Jodie and Steve Kemp of Chillicothe, Illinois were on their way back home after a Memorial Day camping trip, when a car cut them off and their trailer jack-knifed on Interstate 80 in Annawan.
The trailer rolled several times.
"My arm touched the ground three times. I was awake through the whole thing," Steve recalled. "I told everyone that day when I was trapped, I said take care of my wife and my dogs first. Without them, I'm nobody."
The couple was taken to a hospital in Davenport, Iowa. Their dog Daisy, died in the crash. Their black lab Abby missing after surviving the accident.
"I remember being loaded into the ambulance and screaming, wanting to know where Steve and the "girls" were," Jodie said.
Steve was admitted to intensive care with multiple injuries. The couple unable to even try to find their missing pet some 50 miles away.
"If I could have gotten out of that bed, I would have", Steve said. "I even told Jodie, I can't go look for her, please go," he said.
Steve was in bad shape, and Jodie stayed by his side. But residents from Annawan, along with Kemp's friends who heard about the crash on Facebook, searched near the busy interstate on foot and ATV's, to try and find Abby. A relentless 26 hours later, Abby was found, safe and sound in a muddy creek bed.
"They say she kept returning to the accident site. Everybody was helping, they know how important Abby was. We don't have any children and our dogs are our kids. We had to get her back. It was not an option, not getting her back", Jodie said. "The town came through. There were a lot of strangers, people I don't know", she said.
The couple have already returned once to say thanks for that kindness of strangers, and later this month, intend on making another visit. This time, with a surprise donation for first responders.
"We've already been back to thank the people who brought Abby home. The rescue squad was just awesome and they're all volunteer, which is one reason we want to do something special for them," Jodie said.
They also believe Abby had an angel to keep her from getting hit by a car on the four lane interstate for all those hours.
"I think Daisy was with her and kept her safe. I don't think Daisy was actually running with her, but an angel keeping her safe," she said.
Steve just returned to work after three months of recuperation. The Kemps have added another labrador to the family named Sadie, a dog they adopted in Henry County. Grateful the accident happened where it did. In a small town with heart.
"This girl Abby here survived. I think Daisy watched over her and a lot of people helped look for her. And thank you to everyone that did," said Steve. "Somebody was looking out for us that day. They really were."