ST. GEORGE – The past year was full of events heartbreaking, with child tragedies and devastating floods, and heartwarming, such as a special gift for a teenage accident-survivor.
From start to finish, Southern Utah experienced some tough times in 2015, but through challenges it emerged with moments of inspiration, too.
Here are the stories, shows and columns that garnered the most interest and discussion on St. George News in 2015 along with some updates:
1. Kycie Terry
The death of Kycie Terry, a 5-year-old girl whose story captured hearts all over the country as her story of survival unfolded, left many grief-stricken but managed to educate others at the same time.
Kycie spent months in Primary Children’s Hospital in 2015, battling the effects of a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis that resulted from undiagnosed Type 1 diabetes.
Kycie suffered extensive brain damage as a result of the illness and wasn’t expected to live long, but she fought hard before dying on July 11. Her story spread throughout the country and has helped other children suffering from undiagnosed Type 1 diabetes.
READ MORE: In her father’s arms: Kycie Terry dies Saturday morning | UPDATE: Kycie Terry flown by Life Flight to Primary Children’s Hospital; STGnews Videocast | Hundreds welcome home 5-year-old Kycie Terry; Video, Photo Gallery
2. Concern about LDS President Monson’s health
While speaking at the Oct. 4, 2015, General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, church President Thomas S. Monson started his address strong but slowed toward the end of his talk.
His speech slurred, he began repeating words and seemed to have some difficulty standing. Monson slumped, leaning heavily on the pulpit to support himself, and needed help to return to his seat after his message.
Later in the conference, Monson appeared to be feeling better, standing during the congregational hymn. Elder David A. Bednar, a member of the church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles offered the following in his address that afternoon:
We can expect the president and other senior leaders of the church will be older and spiritually seasoned men. The Lord’s revealed pattern of governance by councils in his church provides for and attenuates the impact of human frailties.
3. 13-year-old dies at basketball camp
The parents of Kade Jones, a 13-year-old boy from St. George who died at a basketball camp in Salt Lake City on July 22, 2014, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Westminster College in April, 2015.
Kade, a Type 1 diabetic, became sick shortly after arriving. He was sent to a trainer’s room to recover and didn’t participate in the camp’s activities. He also didn’t eat lunch or dinner.
Like Kycie Terry in 2015, Kade Jones had developed a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis.
The Jones family was not notified after Kade’s body was found on the floor of his dorm room.
Kade’s father, Paul Jones, told St. George News that if they win the lawsuit, they will put the money into a charity devoted to promoting Type 1 diabetes awareness and benefiting diabetic kids.
The lawsuit is ongoing.
4. Kissing Bug
A deadly “kissing bug,” formally known as the triatomine insect, crawled its way into the southern half of the United States, including Utah, making headlines after cases of a parasitic infection called Chagas disease were reported in at least five states.
Chagas disease, which may cause long-term cardiac damage and can be fatal if not treated, is caused by the Trypanosoma cruzi parasite and is spread almost exclusively through bites, typically on the lip, from the triatomine insect.
5. Washington County flash flood claims the lives of 21 people
Twelve people were confirmed dead while one person remains missing in Hildale after a wall of water and debris barreled through the streets during a September 2015 flash flood, sweeping away a full-size van and an SUV containing members of two Utah families.
Following the devastating flood, upwards of 650 people including agencies from the local to federal level as well as hundreds of volunteers descended on the twin-communities of Hildale and Colorado City, Arizona, known as Short Creek, to help with search and cleanup efforts.
An intense and earnest search for the body of the last known victim, 6-year-old Tyson Black, continued to no avail.
About the same time, another flash flood coursed through a small slot canyon in Zion National Park, catching a party of seven adults who were canyoneering. Search and Rescue crews would later recover all seven bodies.
In addition to the lives lost in Hildale and Zion National Park, the flash flooding resulted in the death of a Hurricane man whose body was found on the Arizona Strip, bringing the total of those killed to 21, including the presumed death of Black.
The flash flood is said to be one of the worst weather-related disasters in the history of the state of Utah.
READ MORE: 18 found dead in 2 days in Washington County flash floods, 2 missing; new video | News LIVE: Fatal flash flood in Hildale | Drone footage captures Hildale flood devastation | UPDATED: Search crews recover 4th body; 3 still missing after flash flood, Zion National Park | 7 Zion flood victims identified; Mesquite man among dead | Zion National Park investigates September’s flash flood-related deaths
6. Barista’s well-endowed bull
A bull sculpture atop Barista’s restaurant in Hurricane was made famous, making worldwide headlines in March 2015 after it sparked outrage in the community over its extra-large male anatomy.
When the well-endowed bull initially went up at Barista’s, it prompted fierce backlash from angry residents who called the sign offensive and inappropriate, saying the depiction of the bull’s genitalia was blatantly overdone.
The restaurant owner said the real issue Hurricane City residents have is with him and has nothing to do with the sign. The bull would later receive a penectomy of sorts when the owner decided to have the bull’s penis removed.
READ MORE: Restaurant sign featuring bull’s extra-large genitalia sparks outrage, city petition | Restaurant employee attacked, owner angry over bull controversy; STGnews Videocast | Large penis removed from Barista’s bull sculpture | No Filter: What’s the deal with the bull, Ward?
7. Missing Macin Smith
On Sept. 1, 2015, 17-year-old Macin Smith disappeared, leaving behind no clues as to where he was going.
Smith was last seen by his mother Tracey Smith when she woke him for school that morning. While there is conflicting information as to whether or not Macin got on the school bus the morning of his disappearance, it appeared he did not arrive at school that day.
Despite numerous group searches and experienced investigators combing the area, Smith remains missing as of Dec. 30. The Facebook page set up to ask for help in finding him reports no credible sightings or leads.
READ MORE: MISSING: 17-year-old St. George teen; public’s help sought | MISSING: St. George teen may have hitchhiked to Las Vegas | MISSING 11 days: Community asked to help in organized search for Macin Smith
8. Attempted kidnapping at gunpoint at Hurricane school
Six schools in Hurricane were placed on lock-out in response to a March 2015 incident when a female high school student reported to Hurricane High School’s vice principal that a man in a white passenger car pulled a gun and tried to get her in his car.
Photos and information obtained during the investigation led detectives to positively identify 39-year-old Earl Brandon Chappell, of LaVerkin, as the suspect involved in the incident.
Chappell was arrested within 13 hours of the attempted kidnapping and was charged with first-degree felony aggravated kidnapping and a class B misdemeanor for drug paraphernalia.
Chappell, now 40, appeared in 5th District Court before Judge Eric Ludlow for arraignment in July and pleaded not guilty to the charges.
A four-day jury trial is currently scheduled for February 2016.
9. Southern Utah fireball
On Aug. 29, 2015, reports of what was described as a fireball streaking across the sky south of SunRiver in St. George came flooding in. As it turned out, the fireball was seen from Lake Havasu City, Arizona, to Pahrump, Nevada, besides several sightings in Southern Utah.
The American Meteor Society confirmed the sightings.
The fireball lasted about two seconds, according to one observer who said: “Never seen anything like it my whole life. The trail and length of visibility could have been longer but I didn’t see it until it came into view of my windshield.”
READ MORE: Early morning fireball attracts attention
10. Grocery shoppers receive surprise
Random shoppers at Lin’s Fresh Market in St. George received an unexpected gift during the Christmas holiday season when an anonymous donor arranged to pay their bills at the checkout stand with barely a word and a simple note.
11. 5-year-old found dead in Kaibab National Forest
Five-year-old Jerold Williams went missing near Jacob Lake, Arizona, in August 2015. Volunteers from all over Arizona, Utah and even Washington state joined the search.
After being missing for five days and four nights, Jerrold’s body was found in Kaibab National Forest.
No evidence of foul play was found, and his death was ruled accidental due to environmental exposure.
One of the first heartbreaks reported in 2015 came from Beaver County when a teacher found the body of a dead teenage high school junior in the bathroom of Beaver High School on Jan. 5.
At the time, St. George News reported a handgun found next to the girl’s body, noting that authorities had not yet determined or released details in her cause of death.
“Until there has been an official determined cause-of-death we can’t say for certain,” Beaver County Superintendent Ray Terry said then.
The girl’s death was later ruled a suicide, Iron County Sheriff Cameron Noel said last week. No additional details were given out and the name of the victim was withheld since she was a juvenile, he said.
13. Top “No Filter Show” – Britton Shipp
Britton Shipp and his family stole the hearts of the “No Filter Show” audience in a February 2015 episode that included their reflections and fight to see the teenager recover from a coma resulting from a November 2014 ATV crash. The accident happened when Britton was out on a Sadie Hawkins date.
Britton Shipp, a former Snow Canyon High School football player, courageously fought the odds with the rallying support of family, cities and community.
WATCH VIDEO: No Filter: Faith, hope and a key for Britton
READ MORE: Believe4Britton: 16-year-old coma patient showing signs of recovery | Region 9 baseball: Dixie wins Sunshine Classic; Warriors go deep for Britton | Hero’s welcome: Britton Shipp’s homecoming | Tonaquint Data Center’s golf classic raises thousands for Britton Shipp Foundation | 30 years of Utah Summer Games; Britton Shipp carries opening ceremony torch | Britton Shipp honored before thousands at Utah Summer Games opening events
14. Top “A-List” captures great lights at Christmastime
Columnist Ali Hill brought home the bright lights again in 2015 with her A-List on the best Christmas light displays in St. George. Hill’s top two picks also garnered national attention, winning ABC’s “The Great Christmas Light Fight” twice.
SEE MORE: A-List: The best Christmas lights in St. George 2015 | St. George family wins ABC’s ‘The Great Christmas Light Fight’; official lighting event | Second St. George home wins $50,000 in ABC’s ‘The Christmas Light Fight’
15. Columnists address polygamy, humanity and passwords
“Relationship Connection” Columnist Geoff Steurer first published a column in 2014 that continued to receive views throughout 2015. In it, Steurer gave advice to a woman concerned that her husband would not give her his password.
Given its popularity, the column was republished in December 2015 and again, Steurer’s readers took notice, marking the reality that the complexities of our electronic relationships invade our personal relationships – challenges that aren’t likely to go away anytime soon.
Columnist Ed Kociela opened his Nov. 21 “On The EDge” column, writing: “Without choice, there is no freedom.” Kociela related his exclusive interviews with Lynette Warner, one of nearly 80 spiritual wives claimed by Warren Jeffs, the self-proclaimed prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Warner shared her experience both during her time as Jeffs’ wife and after leaving the polygamist sect.
“Perspectives” Columnist Bryan Hyde resonated with readers in his Sept. 21, 2015, commentary acknowledging an outpouring of service, donations and compassion that flowed to the affected polygamist families of Hildale in their loss of loved ones during the September flash floods.
Related posts: Sports
St. George News Sports Editor Andy Griffin highlights a variety of sports highlights from 2015 in his report, from Little League to high school sports, college and individual endeavors in arm wrestling, marathons and more. See his report here: 2015 year in review: Top sports stories on St. George News
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Thank you for your continued support of St. George News and Cedar City News throughout 2015. As always, we look forward to bringing you the news. Here’s to a successful 2016!
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