Edmonton’s top 14 stories of 2014

EDMONTON — As the end of 2014 approaches, it’s time to look back at what local stories you found most interesting this year. From viral videos to wild weather, a shocking crime and a heartwarming random act of kindness – this list covers it all.

Pick your favourite by voting in our poll at the bottom.

  1. Then and now: 40 years of Global Edmonton

For our 40th birthday, we took a trip down memory lane to show just how much (or in some cases, how little) some of our staff and things around our building have changed since the ITV days. The nostalgic look-back, complete with big 80s hair and equipment, was a hit. And according to a lot of our viewers, like a fine wine, some things just get better with age.

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Gord Steinke then and now.
Gord Steinke then and now. Global News
Gotta love the 70s rides. They made them sturdier back then!.
Gotta love the 70s rides. They made them sturdier back then!. Global News
Can you tell which one has stood the test of time? .
Can you tell which one has stood the test of time? . Trish Kozicka, Global News
Brian Lemisko shows off his wheels. His car is only two years younger than ITV/Global Edmonton.
Brian Lemisko shows off his wheels. His car is only two years younger than ITV/Global Edmonton. Trish Kozicka, Global News
  1. Alberta brothers who survived fatal house explosion honoured for courage

Our award-winning health reporter Su-Ling Goh has an amazing track record when it comes to finding stories that truly touch our audience. Her piece on Wilf and Wes Michalycia, two brothers who were badly burned in a workplace fire that claimed the life of their cousin, is a testament of that. It shows how it’s possible to not only overcome great pain and trauma, but still retain a sense of humour. The story drew comments like: “true heroes,” “such an inspiration,” and “your story gives me hope.”

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12. 4.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Rocky Mountain House

You don’t often hear of earthquakes in central Alberta. So when one struck in August, it generated a lot of interest. Experts said it was actually the third earthquake within a 30-day period. Since 1985, there have reportedly been nine earthquakes in the province that measured over 3.7 magnitude.

11. Stolen necklace containing remains of Manitobans’ young son found

Crystal and David Pentecost had recently moved to Edmonton when a pendant filled with the remains of their nine-year-old, who was killed last year in a Manitoba plane crash, was stolen from their vehicle.

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The parents put out a desperate plea for its return and our Facebook fans responded, sharing the story thousands of times. Less than a week later, the necklace was found downtown and returned to the family, albeit a bit damaged. A local funeral home, however, offered to replace it for free.

  1. Two killed, four injured at west Edmonton warehouse

A stabbing spree at a warehouse for the Loblaw grocery chain sent shockwaves throughout the city on Feb. 28, 2014.

The roughly three-hour manhunt for the suspect, Jayme Pasieka, came to an end in south Edmonton thanks to a tip from a concerned citizen. We brought you an exclusive bird’s eye view of his takedown, as well as raw video accounts from stunned witnesses at the crime scene.

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  1. Social media frenzy follows release of scathing report

Alison Redford and her political turmoil were a hot topic this year. But no scandal drew as much reaction as the auditor general’s report, which was filled with a slew of damning revelations about the disgraced former Alberta premier. The findings of improper spending and use of government planes sent Twitter into a tizzy with memes like #FakesOnAPlane, #AuraOfPower and #MistakesWereMade.

  1. Edmonton couple spends 10 years cycling the world

Peter and Shahla Nygaard’s story of travelling the world by bike for the past decade let us live vicariously through the adventurous Edmonton couple, who did what many of us only dream of. Their life-changing journey spanned 77 countries on six continents, and cost them about $10,000 each per year.

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  1. ‘Anaconda’ dancer from Alberta wows Ellen with her moves

Taylor Hatala’s dance moves became a social media sensation this fall. A YouTube video of the 11-year-old dancing to Nicki Minaj’s ‘Anaconda’ received more than 7 million views in its first two weeks. It also caught the eye of Ellen DeGeneres. She invited the Sherwood Park girl to show off her sweet moves on her show.

  1. Video of Mike Sobel and Ripple the dog’s weather forecast goes viral

What started out as a regular Wednesday morning forecast for Global Edmonton weather specialist Mike Sobel turned into a viral hit thanks to a rambunctious pup named Ripple. Mike brought the one-year-old Shepherd-Mastiff, who was up for adoption, to the weather board to do the forecast together. But Ripple didn’t seem to care that there was work to be done. The video of his playful antics was featured on CNN’s homepage, the Chive, Perez Hilton, Slate and People magazine. Ellen Degeneres also posted it on her show’s Facebook page.

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  1. ‘I noticed you left your lights on’: Edmonton Good Samaritan’s note goes viral

Who doesn’t love a heartwarming story of a random act of kindness? This particular one captured the kind spirit Edmontonians are known for.

When a University of Alberta student forgot to turn off his headlights, he came back to his car hours later to find his battery dead and a note on his windshield. At first, Derek Murray figured it was from an angry resident. As he started reading it, though, he realized it was actually from a Good Samaritan who had foreseen his predicament and left him what he needed to start his car.

Thanks to this note, a drained car battery turned out to be the highlight of a U of A student’s day.
Thanks to this note, a drained car battery turned out to be the highlight of a U of A student’s day. Reddit

The story prompted us to ask: what’s the nicest thing a stranger has ever done for you? Hundreds of you shared your responses, which only reinforces our belief that Edmontonians are pretty awesome.

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  1. 5-year-old, grandparents disappear from Calgary home

The disappearance of Nathan O’Brien and his grandparents in Calgary gripped the entire country. It’s an example of how some stories, like the floodings in 2013, transcend city boundaries and bring Albertans together.

The five-year-old and his grandparents, Alvin and Kathyrn Liknes, vanished from the Liknes home at the end of June following an estate sale. Their bodies have never been found, but police charged 54-year-old Douglas Garland with their murders.

A memorial was held for the Nathan in September where he was remembered as a ‘superhero.’ A private children’s foundation was also set up in his name “to make sure [he] was not forgotten.” This fall, an American businessman donated $1 million to the trust.
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  1. Shell brings back 1984 gas prices to celebrate anniversary

Few things get Edmontonians more excited than cheap gas. So it’s no surprise that when Shell lowered its prices to 1984-levels (when gas was just 039.9 cents per litre), it was the talk of not just the city, but a hot topic across the country. Alberta became the envy of many Canadians, who could only dream of filling up on the deal a lucky handful got to enjoy. That’s because the promotion was limited to only eight select locations in our province, where Shell has been refining for the past 30 years.

  1. Edmonton ETS train attack caught on video

A woman’s surprising outburst on Edmonton’ LRT was one of this year’s most captivating amateur videos. In the video, initially posted on Facebook from an account with the name Renee A. Carter, an unidentified young woman is seen looking through her purse when her face begins to contort.

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She grabs her hair then lunges at the male passenger next to her, and grabs his neck. She throws a punch and pulls his ponytail before walking away. The man follows her and a struggle between the two ensues. ETS security soon storm the scene and subdue both individuals.

  1. Rare Alberta travel advisory issued due to snowstorm; officers ‘overwhelmed’ by QEII crashes

The story that captured your attention more than any other this year was the wild wintry weather that created treacherous driving conditions across the province. It got so bad that, in a rare move, RCMP actually asked Albertans to stay off the highways.

“We were running out of resources, we couldn’t keep up with the issues,” superintendent Howard Eaton with RCMP’s Traffic Services said.

While attending to one of the multiple crash scenes in the Red Deer area, a traffic sheriff’s vehicle was struck by an out-of-control semi. Elsewhere, an RCMP officer had a close call after stopping a man on a highway that was under a no-travel advisory.

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In less than two days, RCMP were called to more than 600 collisions, about 50 of which left someone injured.

Which story resonated most with you? Vote in our poll! Or if it’s not on the list, tell us your pick in the comments section below.