‘A wonderful couple’: Community shows outpouring of support for MPD officer injured in crash that killed wife

MADISON, Wis. – As a Madison police officer is recovering after being seriously hurt in a car crash last week, the community is showing its support.

Officer Jodi Nelson faces a long road to recovery ahead after undergoing multiple surgeries and losing her wife in that same crash last Monday.

“This is not just a physical toll,” Madison Police Department Officer Chanda Dolsen said. “It’s going to be an extremely emotional toll for her in the long run.”

Nelson was off duty when she and her wife, Julie Nelson, were struck by a car that veered off the roadway while the two were walking on a Sun Prairie bike path.

“It really breaks your heart,” Dolsen said. “She really is at the helm of our MPD Pride, very involved, a very good officer.”

She said Jodi Nelson puts her heart into everything, from her career to her interests, which include the Green Bay Packers, Batman and boxing in tournaments.

“She’s just a big fan, and to a lot of people she’s a hero,” Dolsen said.

She said her fellow officer and 14-year veteran of the department is a fighter.

“She’s a butt kicker, I’m telling you,” Dolsen said. She and Nelson were in the same recruiting class in 2006.

“We’ve had a very close friendship since then,” Dolsen said. “Not just Jodi, but obviously Julie, they’re really great people — caring, compassionate people.  Especially the two together were just a wonderful couple and so fun to be around.”

The new reality is still hard for Dolsen to wrap her mind around.

“It really to the very core is just a real tragedy,” she said.

Many in our community have met or been impacted by Officer Jodi Nelson, a 14-year veteran of MPD. Jodi is a community…

Posted by Madison Police Department on Monday, November 30, 2020

Dolsen is acting as the liaison between the police department and the Nelsons’ families. She’s been texting with Nelson and has been able to speak with her once.

“I told her, ‘I’m going to take care of your family. I don’t want you to beat me up,’” Dolsen said with a smile. “The first words out of her mouth are, ‘How are you doing?’”

She said that goes to show her caring nature even in grief.

“What long-term will look like, it’s hard to say at this point, but I think right now she’s kicking butt and healing and she’s by far one of the strongest people I’ve ever known,” Dolsen said, adding that she’s not fighting alone.

Loved ones have set up a GoFundMe page, which has already raised five times its goal, to help Jodi and Julie Nelson’s families and the couple’s two kids.

“She has definitely a wide net of fans,” Dolsen said, adding that this has drawn an outpouring of support even from strangers. “She’s not going to have to go through this alone.”

The GoFundMe page can be found here.