Richard Ludeke and Mindi Wikstrom

Mindi Wikstrom of Sioux City looks on as Richard Ludeke of Archer points out the spot where Wikstrom’s car had gone into the ditch along Highway 60 near Carnes after hitting a semitruck in May 2019. Ludeke and his wife, Miriam, were recently chosen to receive the 2020 Governor’s Lifesaving Award for the role they played in responding to the collision.

REGIONAL—The fact Mindi Wikstrom is alive and well after experiencing a car collision in May 2019 is reward enough for Richard and Miriam Ludeke of Archer.

The Ludekes, however, recently were chosen to receive the 2020 Governor’s Lifesaving Award for actions they took in response to the vehicle collision near Carnes that hospitalized Wikstrom.

“To me, what we did was very minor,” Richard said. “It was all her to get up out of that bed and go back to college and run a half marathon. My goodness, that’s true determination.”

The Ludekes were among the first people who responded to the crash that forced Wikstrom’s 2004 Buick Le Sabre into the ditch across the street from Sfumato Pizza after the vehicle was struck by a semitruck.

The Archer couple and other responders went to Wikstrom’s car and were able to rip away its doors to tend to the Sioux City woman, who was 21 at the time. They cleared her airway to prevent her from drowning in her own blood and stanched blood flow from other injuries on her body.

Wikstrom later was flown by helicopter from Orange City Area Health System to MercyOne Siouxland Medical Center in Sioux City. She was put in a medically induced coma for about two weeks, after which she spent several more weeks recovering and going through physical therapy.

She was well enough to participate in a half marathon in October 2019 and graduated from Iowa State University in Ames this year.

In late May, the Ludekes reunited with Wikstrom at the site of the car collision so they could relay the story of the incident to her. She also thanked them in person for the role they played in saving her.

The Ludekes have since stayed in touch with Wikstrom, who works full time with a campus ministry organization at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln called The Navigators.

“It’s amazing to be a part of her life journey,” Richard said. “That’s really nice.”

The ceremony for the 2020 was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic but will take place sometime next year at the Iowa Capitol.


Sheldon Water Department employee Dave Andringa also will receive a 2020 Governor’s Lifesaving Award.

While plowing snow in the early morning of Jan. 18, Andringa found Sheldon resident Bob Poppema lying in the parking lot of Poppema-Sikma Construction.

Dan Poppema, Bob’s son, wrote a letter to the city thanking Andringa and credited him with saving his father’s life.

Poppema, 80, had been lying there for about 90 minutes and unable to reach his phone. The low temperature the morning Poppema was found was minus 4 degrees.

Sheldon mayor Greg Geels issued a formal letter of appreciation to honor Andringa on Feb. 5.