CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Law enforcement officers risk their lives every day and Champaign County Sheriff’s Deputy Chelsey Keyes understands that risk all too well. She’s been in the line of fire twice, but her passion to serve is stronger than ever.

In this week’s Celebrating Central Illinois, we sat down with Keyes and her husband John Wright as they talk about the experience for the first time.

“I came out unscathed in both of my incidents, so I am really thankful,” Keyes said. 

A police officer in the United States was shot at nearly every day in 2022. The Fraternal Order of Police reported that 331 officers were shot in the line of duty. 62 of them died.   

Keyes escaped those statistics twice.

“There are folks who are not as lucky,” Wright said. “I don’t know why some people get out of situations and others don’t.”

In December of 2020, Keyes was with a recruit when she made a traffic stop. The driver fired shots at her, but she wasn’t hurt. 

“Obviously there is a level of fear there,” Keyes said.

But for her husband, it was more than fear.

“Anger, because someone shot at my wife,” Wright said. “The natural response was anger and then some worry.”   

Wright heard about it from officers at work. Three months later, he got a call from his wife. 

“It was something along the lines of ‘Hey I got shot at again. I’m fine, just want you to hear it from me,’ and that she was probably going to have to deploy her dog and that was it,” Wright said.

He said the second time around was a much different feeling. 

“I was somewhat angry, but I was feeling like ‘go get ‘em,'” Wright said. “I was wanting her and Harley as a K-9 team to get a pursuit and catch the bad guy.”

After a three-hour high-speed chase and standoff, Keyes, her K-9 Harley and other departments caught the criminal.

Wright’s brother, who works for the Macon County Sheriff’s Office, used a stop stick.  

“It’s a really cool thing that, here I am, home, asleep, getting awakened by a call knowing that my little brother is out there helping my wife,” Wright said.

It was a full circle moment for a family that’s dedicated their lives to protecting the public and each other.

Despite being in the line of fire twice, Keyes’ desire to serve is stronger than ever. 

“I really enjoy, from doing the community service stuff to the community outreach, to, you know, going to the in-progress calls and dealing with that,” Keyes said. “Its nice to have the change.”

Keyes is humble and doesn’t want praise. She said she didn’t do anything any other officer wouldn’t do. 

Keyes took a job with a private sector for about 9 months, but missed being a deputy terribly.  She’s been back on the Champaign County Sheriffs’ Department for about a year. Her K-9 Harley has retired, but gives her lots of love at home.