AUSTIN, Texas - 2018 was a year marked by political upheaval and division across the nation, and the news cycle reflected it.
In and around Austin, there were numerous stories of triumph and tragedy. While two big stories – the Austin bomber and the post-flooding water crisis – dominated on-air coverage, digital readers often sought out personal stories, slightly whimsical features and information that directly affected Central Texans.
Here, then, are the 10 most-read online stories of 2018 on Spectrum News Austin:
In February 2018, a 17-year-old student who had recently been suspended threatened students on a bus and displayed ammunition, the principal of Akins High School reported. The school was placed on lockdown as police searched for that student.
If actor, writer, director, and producer Tyler Perry ever retires Madea, we have a suggested replacement. Austinite Howard Griffin has been impersonating the beloved film character for nine years, and readers couldn’t get enough of him.
In July, following a year-long investigation, 18 people were indicted in connection to a suspected crime ring accused of stealing construction equipment across Texas. It’s believed they transported, stored, and sold $765,000 worth of equipment.
In early December, 17-year-old Vista Ridge High School student Myles Hutcheson was killed in a single-vehicle wreck. Hutcheson was an athlete and was mourned by classmates and the community.
The economy is always on people’s minds, and we’re fortunate to live in Texas. According to a study released in May, Austin only ranked behind Dallas as the best place in which to land a job in Texas.
One of the biggest stories of 2018 and likely the most impactful. Following heavy rain, Austin’s water treatment system became unstable, prompting a boil water notice. Austin residents were asked to sacrifice, and the limitations and vulnerabilities of our water utility were brought to light.
In March of 2018, the Austin area was gripped by a fear it had never known before. In all, five package bombs exploded, killing two and injuring five. On March 12, 17-year-old Draylen Mason was killed and his mother was injured. Draylen was an accomplished musician. The bomber blew himself up with one of his own devices on March 21.
In May of 2018, a Lake Travis fire truck driver lost consciousness along FM 620 in Austin, leading to a fiery crash that hospitalized nine people. He had no history of medical emergencies. At least six vehicles were involved, and the crash snarled traffic for hours.
As Austin’s landscape continues to change, we said goodbye to some staples in 2018. In November, Houston-based Paradise Brands reported it closed 21 Luby’s restaurants this year while struggling with a $33 million loss during the fourth quarter.
Much was made of the so-called “blue wave” anticipated in the 2018 general election, and no candidate exemplified those predictions more than Texas. Rep. Beto O’Rourke. Though O’Rourke was ultimately unsuccessful in unseating Republican incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz, his largely grassroots campaign was successful in galvanizing voters. A mural in his honor served as a tangible signal of that enthusiasm, and when it was defaced a short time after its unveiling, the East Austin community came together to restore it.