Winter commences Friday with the Solstice, what's left of 2012 becomes a day shorter, and looking back on it, two things come to mind. First, it seems the year went by in such a blur it’s hard to ponder the top 10 stories in Kirkland for 2012. And second, the small, boring town where I grew up has become such a fast-paced city -- 80,000 souls now! -- it’s hard to choose the top 10.
On Dec. 30, Kirkland Patch will become 2 years old, and little did I imagine at its launch late in 2010 how many crazy stories I would be chasing, especially this last year.
Before we get to the top ones, let me just say that each of us has our own personal top 10 stories of 2012. The list here represents the perspective of a digital reporter, whose success is measured in views on stories posted. So the list is skewed toward events of a tragic, criminal or unimaginable nature.
We are throwing out a few that went viral through the fluke of being picked up by various national web sites or listservs. The biggest example is one we shared from our Renton Patch site about the so-called DNSChanger malware virus; it was read by thousands of people, not necessarily all from Kirkland, who were concerned about their computer security.
Another story that grabbed some national attention, but wasn't really a top story in terms of news impact: KPD Blotter: Angry Man Scratches New BMW Parked in Two Spaces.
Here then are the top 10 stories on Kirkland Patch in 2012, as measured primarily by view numbers--some of them ongoing stories with multiple posts.
1) Montana Man Charged With Murder in 1996 Kirkland Cold Case. This story broke early this month when a disabled auto mechanic was arrested in Montana and charged with the 1996 murder of a Juanita woman, whose body was not found for eight years. This is an ongoing story; the suspect remains in Montana fighting extradition.
2) Two Men Killed in High-Speed Motorcycle Crash Near Totem Lake. We posted four stories about this inexplicable crash in the Totem Lake area that killed two brothers one Saturday evening in September. Daniel and Gerald Lutz, both solid citizens, were on the same cycle and apparently practicing when the bike went out of control, hit a curb at high speed and threw both to a street below. Exactly what happened might never be known.
3) Head-On Crash Kills Woman on Juanita Drive; DUI Suspected. One August night a Finn Hill woman failed to negotiate a curve on Juanita Drive and slammed into a car carrying four people. The suspect, who faces vehicular homicide charges, lived on Finn Hill just blocks from the woman killed, 81-year-old Joyce Parsons. At Kelly Hudson’s arraignment, her attorney shielded her from camera view with a large flat piece of Styrofoam; she pleaded “absolutely not guilty.” The case should be settled in 2013.
4) Family Says Doctor Did Not Ski Off Cliff. A tragic skiing accident during a descent from the summit of Mount Baker in June took the life of a highly regarded doctor at EvergreenHealth Medical Center. Dr. Keith Hardy was 34, an avid outdoorsman and expert skier, who practiced at the Evergreen Sport and Spine Center. One of the touching things about this story was that former patients of his posted comments, one calling him “an extraordinary physician, so patient and kind.”
5) Kirkland Man Gets 15 Years For Leading Pot and Cocaine Smuggling Ring. He posed as a stay-at-home dad all the while running an international drug smuggling ring. Tons of pot were secreted south from Canada into the U.S. while tons of cocaine were smuggled north from California and into British Columbia. Trucks and planes were used. In October, a judge sentenced Jacob Saul Stuart, 40, to 15 years in the pen.
6) Human Remains Found near Bastyr University Are of Adult Male. In early October two students stumbled upon human bones at Saint Edward State Park, which turned out to be the remains of a 46-year-old Finn Hill man who had disappeared, despondent over personal issues, in 2006. We posted three sad stories about this case.
7) Man Found Dead in Juanita Bay Park. A very short story about an apparent suicide generated thousands of views.
8) . The May car crash that killed 30-year-old Carly Anderson tugged tragically at the heartstrings of many on Finn Hill. Carly had worked at the Carl Sandburg Elementary Extended Care program and so was very well known locally. She was also something of a legend to many young women in her time at Juanita High for being independent and heavily tattooed in a day when that was not so common, particularly for a teenager. She was driving up the hill on winding N.E. 131st heading to Sandburg when the crash occurred. We followed up recently with a story about a program at Sandburg in Carly’s name that helps support two Kirkland twins with an incurable condition, Dravet’s Syndrome.
9) Kirkland Massage Therapist Charged With Unprofessional Conduct by State. A local man faces a felony charge of indecent liberties in King County Superior Court for allegedly touching a massage patient on the breast and pubic area. His trial had been set for November but was continued; he faces a hearing on Jan 25.
10) President Obama Lands in Kirkland and the 2012 elections. We posted so many stories running up to and after the elections it’s hard to total them. But this one was a view-grabber even though the president did not stop in town, dropping in aboard the helicopter Marine One and then boarding a motorcade for a fundraiser in Bellevue. The elections were huge, with voters re-electing Kirkland state legislators Larry Springer and Roger Goodman, sending Suzan DelBene to Congress and approving twin property tax levies to support the city’s parks and roads. Browse our elections coverage here.