Social media made all the difference this year. These were the 10 most popular stories on myFOXdfw.com for 2013, many of which reached people around the world when they went viral.
In December, Judge Jean Boyd sentenced 16-year-old Ethan Couch to just 10 years of probation after he was found guilty of driving his pickup truck drunk and killing four people. What angered most people about the story was the fact that the teen's defense attorney successfully argued he didn't deserve jail time because he suffered from "affluzena," or never learning right from wrong because of his wealthy upbringing. Since the ruling lawmakers have vowed to fix the system and make it tougher for drunken drivers to get off with just probation after killing someone. The Tarrant County district attorney has asked a juvenile court to put him behind bars for a lesser intoxication assault charge and the victims' families are suing his family.
This story was actually written in November 2012, but someone shared it on Reddit this year and it went viral. Social media headlines referred to Justin and Brittany Alston as "the most hated couple on the Internet." The young couple from Hood County was sentenced to 60 years in prison for starving their son nearly to death. Shocking photos show 9-month-old Riley emaciated and distraught. But he's a happy and healthy toddler now.
On July 1, the body of 6-year-old Alanna Gallagher was found on the street in her Saginaw neighborhood. She had been sexually assaulted, smothered and then wrapped in a tarp. Several weeks went by with no arrests in the case. Many people suspected her parents because of their unusual lifestyle. But on July 23 police showed up at her neighbor's home to make an arrest. That's when police said gunfire erupted and 17-year-old Tyler Holder and Detective Charles Lodatto were shot. The story of the violent arrest got almost as many clicks as the original. The officer and the suspect have since recovered. Holder remains behind bars awaiting trial for capital murder and attempted capital murder.
Social media helped spread the story of a Duncanville High School student who lectured his teacher after being kicked out of class. Jeff Bliss said he asked the teacher a question and she replied with profanity. Someone recorded his speech and posted it online. "If you would just get up and teach them instead of handing them a freaking packet, there's kids in here who don't learn like that," he said. During an interview with FOX 4, the teen said he was frustrated with his teacher's lack of passion for her profession and was concerned about his education. He also admitted he could have handled it better.
A 21-year-old woman died during the ice storm in North Texas in December. Kayla Gawalek was heading to work around 4 a.m. when she hit an icy patch on the Lewisville Lake Bridge. Her truck spun out of control, went off the bridge and landed in the water. Her mother was angry that the bridge was open at the time. Many people who read the story were outraged that she was asked to work that day. It sparked an online debate.
The Urban League of Greater Dallas came under fire in November after the conservative activist group Project Veritas released undercover video shot by a Garland college student. It reportedly showed workers encouraging health care applicants to lie for better rates. Many people clicked on the story to watch the undercover video or to share their opinion about the Affordable Healthcare Act. The Urban League said the video showed trainees whose behavior was not condoned. One person was fired and three were suspended. Republican lawmakers called the system flawed and ripe for abuse. A congressional hearing was held in Richardson on the program.
A blast of arctic air brought sleet and subfreezing temperatures to North Texas at the beginning of December. Ice on the roads made it difficult and dangerous to get around. Ice on the power lines and trees caused hundreds of thousands of power outages. Schools closed and many holiday events were canceled. It's not surprising that a story about major weather event in North Texas was among the most popular for the year, especially one the left people stuck at home for days.
Social media helped fuel this story about a biker who claimed he was going nearly 190 miles per hour during a police chase through Dallas. William Pfohl of Dallas was going so fast even Air One had trouble keeping up with him. As he was being arrested he boasted about how fast he was going and sounded a little bummed because he said he had just gotten a full tank of gas.
FOX 4 first learned about 52-year-old Rosa Ayala-Goana's death at Six Flags Over Texas on Twitter. Park guests frantically tweeted that she had fallen out of her seat while riding the Texas Giant. Officials later confirmed she was thrown from the roller coaster during the "steep descent from the first large hill of the track." She fell 75 feet, struck a metal support beam and then landed on the roof of a tunnel. Ayala-Goana's family has since sued Six Flags , which publicly denied responsibility. The park said attendance dropped in the months following the accident. It reopened the Texas Giant with some safety improvements in September.
In July, North Texans were shocked to see the story of longtime radio host Kidd Kraddick's death in their Facebook feed. His heart stopped while he was in New Orleans for a golf tournament benefiting his charity, Kidd's Kids. As the news spread, a memorial grew outside the Las Colinas studio where he did his show. Fans shared countless stories about how he made them smile. They paid tribute at a public memorial and concert outside the American Airlines Center. For a while the future of the Kidd Kraddick in the Morning Show was uncertain, but it returned without him. His charity also lives on. A recent issue of D Magazine revealed Kraddick secretly battled cancer in 2009.