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13 fascinating facts about Sonya Heitshusen:
• I interviewed Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson aboard their tour bus.
• I have a crush on Sean Connery
• I took a self defense class and used the “fake to the face, knee to the groin” move to fight off a would-be attacker in London.
• I have gone sky-diving.
• I have completed multiple marathons and triathlons.
• The worst job I ever had: Toss up between de-tasseling and being a maid.
• I was a wrestling cheerleader in high school.
• I can still do the splits.
• My most embarrassing moment on the air: Saying the entire name of female impersonator “Dixie Longate” repeatedly, without getting the joke until AFTER the news.
• I slept in a car with a photographer for four nights while covering hurricane Katrina.
• I have a voodoo doll on my desk.
• I was a biology and art major before earning a degree in journalism.
• Some of my favorite artists: Van Gogh, Munch, Pollock and De Kooning

Sonya Heitshusen grew up in eastern Iowa, near the Amana Colonies. She attended Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado from 1985 to 1987; The University of London in London England in 1988; and Iowa State University from 1989 to 1992.

Sonya earned her Bachelors of Science in 1992, majoring in journalism with an emphasis in electronic media studies and a minor in speech.

Sonya is a recognized figure for her work in the Des Moines television media as well as for her work in the Des Moines community. She worked as a reporter and anchor for ABC affiliate WOI-TV from 1991 to 2001.

In 2001 she left to pursue a different career path unrelated to media. However, it was not long before she realized that journalism was a strong portion of her life and felt the urge to return. “There is nothing like the daily adrenaline rush you get from working in a newsroom.” Sonya said. Now she reports and anchors for Channel 13 News at 5.

Actively involved in the community, Sonya has participated in events with: Variety Club, Big Brothers – Big Sisters, Ankeny YMCA Board of Directors, The American Diabetes Association, the Governor’s Conference on Aging and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Sonya has won five Emmy’s and received two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. She has also received multiple awards from the Northwest Broadcast News Assoc., IBNA and Associated Press.

In her spare time, Sonya enjoys running and exercise in general. She has completed several marathons and triathlons. She also enjoys drawing, painting and literature.

Recent Articles
  • The Battle Over ‘Daryl the Donkey’ in Boone County

    BOONE COUNTY, Iowa  —  There is no shortage of work for Vanessa Heenan, the Executive Director of the Boone Area Humane Society.  Even on her days off, she’s called on to care for abandoned, neglected or abused animals. “We take it very personally with these animals that we rescue,” says Heenan. That was the case last November. “I was on my way back from Ames, where my son had a doctor’s appointment, and I got a Facebook message from a friend […]

  • Breslyn Hurt Celebrates A Huge Milestone in Cancer Recovery

    WEST DES MOINES, Iowa  —  On Thursday a young girl Sonya Heitshusen introduced us to back in 2017 celebrated a major milestone in her recovery from leukemia. Breslyn Hurt was one of the “honored patients” who Sonya was competing for when she took on Ironman Kona in 2017 to raise money for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society. On Thursday Breslyn was back in surgery, but for a good reason.  Doctors removed Breslyn’s “port”.  That’s the device that doctors use to take […]

  • Body Cam Controversy Leaves Some Feeling Threatened in Madrid

    MADRID, Iowa — The Madrid Police Department recently settled its second police brutality lawsuit in just over a year and now it’s facing yet another controversy. Two officers, one of them the Police Chief Rick Tasler, are accused of using body cameras to secretly record Boone County leaders. Former Madrid city councilmen Eric Ohrt and Dave Cook were some of the leaders whose conversations with officers were secretly recorded. They originally declined to speak with Channel 13 due to a […]

  • Channel 13 News Investigation: Our Most Precious Cargo

    Donnie Hendricks, 74, seemed like a good school bus driver in the eyes of the Iowa Department of Education. “The State had never received any complaints on him,” says Max Christensen, the Director of Transportation for the IDE. But the IDE didn’t have Hendricks’ complete driving record. “He passed his Department Of Transportation physical the last time he took his DOT physical and that’s what we look at,” says Christensen. That was enough for Hendricks to receive his Driver’s Authorization […]

  • Channel 13 News Investigation: Our Most Precious Cargo

    IOWA  —  Megan Klindt, 16, died in a fiery school bus accident on December 12, 2017.  Her parents, Natalie and Glen Klindt, believe the Riverside Community School District bus driver, 74-year-old Donnie Hendricks, wasn’t physically fit to drive the bus. They say he couldn’t save himself from the fire, let alone help Megan off the bus. Since Channel 13’s stories about the accident started airing, the station has received reports of other Iowa bus drivers who may not be fit […]

  • Channel 13 News Investigation: Our Most Precious Cargo

    OAKLAND, Iowa  —  Megan Klindt, 16, and her school bus driver, Donald Hendricks, 74, were killed when Hendricks backed into a ditch and the bus caught fire on December 12, 2017.  Klindt’s parents, Natalie and Glen Klindt, blame Hendricks.  They say he wasn’t physically fit to drive the school bus or help children off of it in the event of an emergency.  They also blame the Riverside Community School District for allowing Hendricks to continue to drive the bus. During […]

  • Channel 13 Investigation: Our Most Precious Cargo

    OAKLAND, Iowa  —  Call it foreshadowing or a premonition,  16-year-old Megan Klindt seemed to know she wasn’t safe on her school bus. “She went to the principal’s office and complained about Donnie’s driving,” says her mother, Natalie Klindt.  “She didn’t feels safe.  She told me this.” Megan Klindt  died on that Riverside Community School District bus on December 12, 2017.  So did the driver of the bus, Donnie Hendricks.  The bus caught fire after Hendricks backed into a ditch across […]

  • After 39 Years, Dam to Dam Preparing for Final Run

    IOWA  —  The iconic Dam to Dam race is coming to an end this June.  Channel 13’s Sonya Heitshusen takes a look back at how it all began.   Registration details:  Begins at 6 AM on Wednesday, March 14th $39 registration fee damtodam.com

  • Development of DICO Site Still Uncertain Due to Sky-High Cleanup Costs

    DES MOINES, Iowa — Once a manufacturing hub, the former DICO Inc. property is now a waste land, bordered by Martin Luther King Parkway to the north and the Raccoon River to the south. It could be one of the highest valued properties in the city of Des Moines.  But few developers are willing to touch it because of what they know – and don’t know – about the contamination left behind by DICO.   For nearly 40 years, DICO […]

  • Kids Making Strides Towards Improved Health One Lap at a Time

    DES MOINES, Iowa  —  At a time when many Americans are just starting a workout routine, Kevin Kofoot Ramos is close to reaching a running milestone. “I think it’s 21 or 22 miles,” says Kevin. That’s how far he’s run since starting the Kidstriders program at Stowe Elementary School in Des Moines. Cindy Elsbernd, a member of the Des Moines School Board, started the program in 2005 in response to the increase in childhood obesity. “I chose running because I […]

  • West Des Moines Schools: No Nurse For Rylie

    WEST DES MOINES, Iowa  —  Twelve-year-old Rylie Lewis misses her friends. “My friends actually texted me and said, ‘Where are you?  Are you sick?’  I’m like, no.  I can’t be there.'” Her parents won’t allow her to attend Stilwell Junior High in West Des Moines because the school won’t allow Rylie’s personal nurse to accompany her.  Rylie, born with Spina Bifida, uses a wheel chair and has a host of medical problems.  Her mother, Darcie Lewis, says she and her […]

  • Somber One Year Anniversary: ‘Tony and Justin will always be in our thoughts’

    November 2, 2017 marked the one year anniversary of the ambush and shooting deaths of Des Moines Police Sergeant, Tony Beminio and Urbandale Police Officer, Justin Martin. Channel 13’s Sonya Heitshusen takes a look back at the events that unfolded that day and talks to the Officers’ family, friends and departments about how they’re moving forward.    

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