Year in Review: Top stories of 2015, with updates

Composite image, St. George News

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 

Kycie Terry, date and location unspecified | Photo courtesy of Jace King, St. George News
Kycie Jai Terry: Oct. 10, 2009 – July 11, 2015

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

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints President Thomas S. Monson speaks at general conference in the Conference Center, Salt Lake City, Utah, Oct. 4, 2015 | Photo courtesy of Intellectual Reserve, Inc., St. George News
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints President Thomas S. Monson speaks at general conference in the Conference Center, Salt Lake City, Utah, Oct. 4, 2015 | Photo courtesy of Intellectual Reserve, Inc., St. George News

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.

READ MORE: LDS church members concerned about prophet following apparent near-collapse

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 Jones, date and location not specified | Photo courtesy of Marjie and Paul Jones, St. George News
Kade Jones, date and location not specified | Photo courtesy of Marjie and Paul Jones, St. George News

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.

READ MORE: 13-year-old dies at basketball camp; lawsuit ongoing between parents, college; STGnews Videocast

4. Kissing Bug

Triatomine Bug Occurrence by State | Image courtesy of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, St. George News
Triatomine Bug Occurrence by State | Image courtesy of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, St. George News

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.

READ MORE: Deadly ‘kissing bug’ makes its way to more than half the US, including Utah

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.

Friends and loved ones lined the street as search and recovery operations continued through Monday night into the next day in the wake of flash flooding that claimed the life of at least 13 women and children in Hildale, Utah, Sept. 15, 2015 | Photo by Kimberly Scott, St. George News
Friends and loved ones lined the street as search and recovery operations continued through the night in the wake of flash flooding that claimed the life of 13 women and children in Hildale, Utah, Sept. 15, 2015 | Photo by Kimberly Scott, St. George News

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 new Barista’s Restaurant sign in Hurricane is leaving many people with a bad taste in their mouths and sparking outrage within the community, Hurricane, Utah, March 17, 2015 | Photo by Kimberly Scott, St. George News
A new Barista’s Restaurant sign in Hurricane is leaving many people with a bad taste in their mouths and sparking outrage within the community, Hurricane, Utah, March 17, 2015 | Photo by Kimberly Scott, St. George News

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

Macin Smith went missing Sept. 1, 2015, St. George, Utah, photo date and location unspecified | Photo courtesy of Tracey Smith, St. George News
Macin Smith went missing Sept. 1, 2015, St. George, Utah, photo date and location unspecified | Photo courtesy of Tracey Smith, St. George News

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

Image allegedly portraying Earl Chappell relased by Hurricane Police Department during the attempted kidnapping incident, Hurricane, Utah, march 4, 2015 | Photo courtesy of Hurricane Police Department, St. George News
Image allegedly portraying Earl Chappell relased by Hurricane Police Department during the attempted kidnapping incident, Hurricane, Utah, March 4, 2015 | Photo courtesy of Hurricane Police Department, St. George News

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.

READ MORE: Hurricane school incident; police locate, detain possible suspect

9. Southern Utah fireball

Stock image | St. George News
Stock image | St. George News

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

surprising shoppers
A shopper at the grocery store checkout stand got a surprise when someone paid the bill for her, handing her a note that read “God is Good.” Lin’s Fresh Market, St. George, Utah, Dec. 16, 2015 | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News

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.

WATCH VIDEO: Caught on camera: Grocery store shoppers get a surprise

11. 5-year-old found dead in Kaibab National Forest

jacob lake arizona kaibab national forest 5 year old jerold williams found lost boy
Jerold Williams, 5 years old, date and location not specified | Photo courtesy of Coconino County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

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.

READ MORE: MISSING: Multi-Agency Task Force searches for 5-year-old boy near Jacob Lake | Searchers find body believed to be 5-year-old Jerold Williams

beaver-high-body-found-212. Body discovered in Beaver High School bathroom

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.

READ MORE: Teacher discovers dead body of teenage student in high school bathroom 

13. Top “No Filter Show” – Britton Shipp

Britton Shipp, Dixie Regional Medical Center, St. George, Feb. 5, 2015 | Photo by Dan Fowlks, St. George News
Britton Shipp, Dixie Regional Medical Center, St. George, Feb. 5, 2015 | Photo by Dan Fowlks, St. George News

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

Collage of various homes in St. George, December 11, 2015 | Created by Ali Hill, St. George News
Collage of various homes in St. George, December 11, 2015 | Created by Ali Hill, St. George News

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 eventSecond St. George home wins $50,000 in ABC’s ‘The Christmas Light Fight’

15. Columnists address polygamy, humanity and passwords

Lynette Warner, date and location not specified | Photo submitted, St. George News
Lynette Warner, date and location not specified | Photo submitted, St. George News

“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.

READ MORE: On the EDge: Jeffs’ wife talks about escaping polygamy | Perspectives: Hildale, tragedy, our humanity | Relationship Connection: My husband won’t give me his phone password

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

* * *

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!

Email: news@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

 

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!

10 Comments

  • IDIOT COMMENTERS January 1, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    that macin smith case really is a strange one. Makes you wonder if the boy has a new life somewhere or wandered off and died out in the desert. hard for the parents to not know, im sure

    • .... January 1, 2016 at 7:35 pm

      Hey idiot maybe you and stupid can get together and solve the case

  • IDIOT COMMENTERS January 1, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    the LIN’s giveaway thing seems as bad advertising. a good thought, but carried out in bad taste, and not anon. at all…

    • .... January 1, 2016 at 7:38 pm

      Hey idiot maybe you can write them a letter and tell them how offended you are by their actions. then just sign it. idiot. after all YOU chose the name

  • 42214 January 1, 2016 at 5:41 pm

    I thought the bull with the huge “thing” was the story of the year. Real Pulitzer Prize worthy.

    • IDIOT COMMENTERS January 1, 2016 at 7:11 pm

      only in ur world. guess thats ur cup of tea

      • .... January 1, 2016 at 8:13 pm

        Hey idiot only in your world ! it’s your cup of idiocy. after all YOU chose the name idiot. have a nice day idiot !

      • 42214 January 2, 2016 at 9:30 am

        I didn’t write the story as one of the top stories for 2015. It’s obviously somebody else’s cup of tea. Drop the commenters and we have a perfect fit.

    • .... January 1, 2016 at 7:40 pm

      Wow that was close. you almost got edited for using the word penis. !

Leave a Reply