The Director of the Iowa Department of Public Safety is praising an Iowa D.C.I. agent for his role in the response to the June 11th tornado at the Little Sioux Scout Ranch in western Iowa. Gene Meyer has presented Mitch Mortvedt with the Director’s Medallion Award.
Mortvedt rushed to the scene of the twister and was appointed with the grim task of informing the parents of four boy scouts – that their children died in the storm. "It’s a horrible, horrible event and it’s one of the worst things that any of us in law enforcement or the fire and rescue profession have to do…a death notification…and especially that of a child," Mortvedt told Radio Iowa.
The Council Bluffs resident is the father of two boys, ages 2 and 4. Mortvedt says his children were definitely on his mind throughout the ordeal, but he mostly focused on the needs of the victim’s parents.
"You try to be as strong as you can for them because that’s ultimately the worst time of their life," Mortvedt said. "You try and give clear and direct information so that there’s…I hate to say no misunderstanding, but, you know, so that things are clear to them because they’re only going to hear a few words."
Mortvedt was also charged with helping reunite dozens of other scouts at the the camp with their families at a community center. He says it was a long wait for the parents. Mortvedt says, after the tornado, there was still a lightning storm in the area and there were downed trees and buildings – making it difficult to get the children out of the camp safely.
Harrison County Sheriff Terry Baxter and Monona County Sheriff Jeff Pratt were also presented with the Director’s Medallion for their leadership in the storm response. Mortvedt says the cooperation among the responding agencies was remarkable.
"Everyone that was there deserves the recognition and commendations," Mortvedt said. "Without everyone’s effort, that event would not have been handled with the proficiency, professionalism and empathy that it was handled with."
As a D.C.I. Special Agent, Mortvedt usually investigates major felonies, including gruesome homicides and sexual assaults. But, he says the devastation he witnessed on the morning of June 11th will stick in his mind forever. Three of the boys killed in the tornado were from Nebraska. The fourth was from Eagle Grove, Iowa.
Last week, Boy Scout officials announced plans to rebuild the camp and include a memorial to honor the four boys.