GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) 2019 has been a big year for ENC from the search for three-year-old Casey Hathaway to the passing of congressman Walter B. Jones, Jr. to Hurricane Dorian.
Here is a review of this year’s top 10 stories.
Three-year-old Casey Hathaway of Ernul went missing from his grandmother’s front yard in late January and was amazingly found after three freezing days and nights.
Hundreds of volunteers along with law enforcement, drones and helicopters were searching for Hathaway combing every inch of what was described as treacherous woods near his grandmother’s house.
Right, when things started to look dim and with bad weather approaching, Hathaway was found alive just a quarter of a mile from where he went missing.
Casey was transported to CarolinaEast medical center for treatment and went home in good spirits shortly after.
The passing of Walter B. Jones, Jr.
Congressman Walter B. Jones, Jr. passed away in February at 76 years old.
Born in Pitt County, Jones went on to serve the people of eastern North Carolina for more than 34 years in the state’s third congressional district seat.
He stood up for Americans who needed a voice, was a champion for our men and women in uniform and their families and was widely admired across the political spectrum.
District 3 election
Following the passing of Walter B. Jones, Jr. was an election to fill the late congressman’s District 3 seat.
More than two dozen candidates filed to run by mid-March ahead of the primary election on April 30.
After the primary, Allen Thomas won the spot on the ticket for the Democratic party and there was a runoff for the Republican spot between Dr. Joan Perry and Dr. Greg Murphy.
Murphy won the runoff election.
Tim Harris moved on for the Libertarian party and Greg Holt took the spot for the Constitution party.
Dr. Greg Murphy won the election for the District 3 seat.
Passing of Atlantic Beach Fire Chief Adam Snyder
The Atlantic Beach community mourned the loss of a community leader, friend, husband, and father.
Atlantic Beach Fire Chief Adam Snyder passed away in March after a snow skiing accident in Virginia.
He was 47 years old.
Snyder served the community as a firefighter for 22 years.
15 of those as the fire chief.
Before that, he was a rescue swimmer for the US Marine Corps.
Chief Snyder was a beloved part of the Atlantic Beach community and is remembered by all.
Two teens dead after being caught in a rip current
Two teens lost their lives after being caught in a rip current on Emerald Isle in April.
17-year-old Paige Merical and 18-year-old Ian Lewis were on spring break at the beach and went swimming despite the threat of severe weather.
Emerald Isle agencies responded to a water rescue call where they found Merical and transported her to a nearby hospital.
She later passed away.
Lewis’ body was recovered days later.
Since then, Merical’s parents have been spreading awareness about rip current safety.
“If you panic and you turn over and try to swim against this thing, you won’t make it. It’s going to be a bad ending,” said John Merical, Paige’s father.
Teen loses leg after shark attack
On June 2nd, 17-year-old Paige Winter was bitten by a shark in Atlantic Beach while swimming with her family.
She was taken to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville for treatment.
Winter’s left leg had to be amputated and she lost two fingers but, in her own statement said: “I will be okay.”
Winter received free prosthetic assistance courtesy of East Carolina Brace and Limb Company.
Paige returned to New Bern High School in the fall.
The success of ECU Baseball
The ECU baseball team celebrated a successful 2019 after making it to the super regionals.
The Pirates finished with an impressive 47-18 overall record while going 20-4 in conference play.
That was enough to earn them the 2019 AAC Regular Season Championship and they went on to host the second straight Regionals in Greenville at Clark LeClair stadium.
The Pirates fell short in the Super Regional against Louisville but are looking forward to big things in 2020.
President Trump visits Greenville
President Donald Trump made a stop in Greenville in July as a part of his 2020 campaign tour.
The ‘Make America Great Again’ rally brought thousands into the community, many from other states.
The President spoke at Minges Coliseum on ECU’s campus about job growth, the economy, and immigration.
A controversial chant broke out at the rally where attendees cheered “send her back” in response to a tweet by the president about Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.
All eyes were on the North Carolina coast for days as Hurricane Dorian threatened to make landfall in September.
Most cities and towns just saw increased winds and rain and were spared major damage.
But, Dorian made landfall on the outer banks and Ocracoke Island is still recovering from catastrophic damage.
Some lost everything but the residents banded together to fix what was broken.
Several tornados were also reported during and after Dorian including one which caused major damage to Emerald Isle.
Controversy with ECU’s Interim Chancellor
We finish our list with one of the most controversial stories of the year.
The investigation on then ECU interim chancellor Dan Gerlach.
In October, photos surfaced on social media showing Gerlach drinking at the Uptown Greenville bars with students.
An investigation was then launched by the UNC system regarding videos sent to the ECU board of trustees and several local news outlets showing Gerlach engaging in said behavior.
The investigation found that these allegations were false…but this was after Gerlach resigned at the end of October.
Ron Mitchelson was then appointed the new interim chancellor.