Close Knit Community Helps Plane Crash Victims’ Family Harvest Fields

PLYMOUTH, Iowa -- Last Friday was devastating for the Le Mars community when four people from the area died in a plane crash near Guthrie Center. Less than a week later, members of the community are doing what they say any small Iowa town does, lends a hand, or a combine.

In a single night Del Kellen lost three loved ones when a plane crashed near Guthrie Center last weekend, including his son.

“Pat was killed in this accident. His daughter Sami, who was our granddaughter, she got killed in this accident. Tyler Douvia, who is actually our nephew, got killed in this accident,” Kellen said.

The Kellen’s are now planning three funerals for the end of this week. Leaving hardly any time to harvest the family farm’s final 450 acres.

“I think everybody can look at this situation and say well ‘what if this was me and what would I hope the people would do for me,’” family friend, Marty Pippett said.

Pippett and other community members were quick to step up. Organizing a group, one day, harvest to make sure that burden wasn’t left on the Kellens.

“It means a lot to have the harvest done by that time. It means a lot to us to have all the people show up to do it and I wish we could've had everybody come up to help, but so much help is all you can take,” Kellen said.

Six combines, six grain carts, and 16 semis stormed the Kellen farm. An act first cousin and fellow farmer, Chuck Kellen, says is normal to members of Northwest Iowa.

“They would do the exact same thing for anybody else, and they have done it before,” Chuck said. “Unfortunately, they are on the receiving end of this. Most other times they are the ones helping, but this time they are being helped.”

“I think most everybody that’s been out here today has been touched by the Kellens in some way shape or form, so it’s the least we can do to return the favor and help them out in their time of need,” Pippett said.

Pippett knows this first hand, his 16-year-old niece was killed in a car accident four months ago, she was best friends with plane crash victim Sami.

“The poor kids in our community have seen more loss than what they deserve to. It’s been a tough road for this community, but everybody seems to rally the troops and help each other out,” Pippett said.

“I mean some farmers here aren’t even done with their own harvest and they quit to come help for a day, and they aren’t even done harvesting. You can see how the people around here care,” Del said.

The community also is coming together to feed the Kellen family and everyone who helped with harvesting. Del says the the amount of food is “unreal” and the community support is nonstop.

All three victims will have a joint funeral on Friday morning in Le Mars. The other crash victim, Edward Anderson's funeral is Saturday. He was the pilot and suffered a heart attack during the flight.