Saturday, January 01, 2005

What's Your Top Story of 2004?

I was planning on writing a piece yesterday on the Ohio's Top Stories of 2004, as determined by the AP. It was going to funny, inciteful, and have multiple references to the Gahanna lion, who I thought got robbed in the voting.

But as I was doing my research on the piece, I came across this item, tied for number 4 in the Zanesville Times Recorder's list of top local stories.

No. 4, tie: Number of teens die in car accidents

High school students and their surrounding communities mourned the loss of eight teens who died in car crashes this year.

Nathan McIntosh, 19, an Avondale native and 2002 honor graduate of Maysville High School, died Jan. 3 when the car he was riding in was involved in a crash on Interstate 70.

Jena L. Snider of Crooksville and Jenna L. Mumford of Roseville, both 19, were killed Feb. 28 in a three-car crash at the intersection of Ohio 13 and Township Road 312 in Perry County. They graduated from Crooksville High School in 2002. Last week, two Corning men -- Jason Barron, 26, and Larry Wilson, 21 -- were sentenced to six years in prison in relation to the crash. Wilson's 1998 Chevy Cavalier collided with Snider's Dodge Neon. Barron was following the Cavalier in his 2003 Monte Carlo and hit both cars.

Jimmy Dickerson, 17, of Crooksville, was killed March 6 after his car veered off Ceramic Road, landed in a ditch, overturned and struck a utility pole. He was a junior at Crooksville High School.

Katie Jenkins, 18, of Zanesville, was killed in a head-on collision April 20. The Maysville High School senior was driving her 1994 Geo Metro up a hill on Pinkerton Road when she crashed with a van coming the opposite direction.

Two West Muskingum High School students were killed May 18 on the way home from school. Colt A. Porter, 15, of Gratiot, and Jordan M. VanAllen, 14, of Zanesville, died on Kimes Road, behind the school.

Brandon Merriam, 16, died Nov. 13 after the Suzuki DRZ motorcycle he was driving crashed into a Gooseneck trailer parked in a private driveway. He was a sophomore at Tri-Valley High School.

My heart stopped. Suddenly elections, snipers, and the woes of Ohio State didn't seem to mean as much as they did just a few minutes before.

These were real kids. Everyday kids. And they were gone just like that. Ask their families what news event was the biggest in 2004, and the election will look mighty insignificant.

News is local - and personal - and it doesn't get more personal than this. Across Ohio, the friends, relatives, and loved ones of the 110,000 of us who passed away in 2004 feel the same way.

But we are blessed as well. When the final statistics are counted, they will show that we celebrated almost 150,000 new births in 2004. That's 150,000 fresh faces, new smiles, and first steps. Again, recount results, Lotto scams, and yes, even the Gahanna lion, don't come close to touching these stories either.

We all have our own top ten stories of 2004. Our own set of triumphs and tragedies. I hope each of you had a good 2004. And I hope you all have an even better 2005.

Happy New Year everyone!