Recapping the top stories along the Gulf Coast in 2022

Published: Dec. 28, 2022 at 11:42 PM CST
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - Hard to believe we are just four days away from a 2023. Before we ring in the New Year -- we’re recapping some of this year’s big stories on the Gulf Coast.

2022 started with Mardi Gras’ dramatic pandemic comeback! The “Boom Boom” magic taking over the Port City!

“The amount is well over $200,000 but we believe this is just the tip of the iceberg in this investigation,” said Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich.

D.A. Rich referring to the investigation of former Prichard Water Board Manager Nia Bradley -- she’s accused of using utility credit cards to go on high end spending sprees. Guicci and Louis Vuitton bags and tons of name brand shoes -- just some of the items taken from a raid of her home in Semmes.

A tornado touching down in West Mobile in early March. Later that month New Orleans took a direct hit. The twisters there playing out on live TV.

March 18th -- one of the most violent days this year in the Port City. Two crimes -- exhausting police manpower. A high speed chase with several crime scenes -- from the Loop -- where surveillance video shows the suspect shooting at police to moments later where he crashed out down Government Street and died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

At almost the same time across town -- two teens -- 19-year-old Cameron Montgomery and 16-year-old Ja’Kobi Freeman ambushed and shot dead in near Azalea and Cottage Hill Road. Their car riddled with bullets before crashing. Days later at a candlelight vigil for the two teens -- gunfire rang out. No one was injured. Four people were arrested in that incident. Meanwhile, two and a half months later suspect Kourtlen Parker was arrested for the double homicide.

Late March -- had family and friends of Cassie Carli searching for the single mother.

“You hope for the best and prepare for the worst - so that’s what we are doing,” said Stacy Porter, Friend of Cassie.

The Navarre woman reported missing after a custody exchange with her ex-boyfriend Marcus Spanevelo with whom she shared a 4-year-old daughter.

“I think we have a great case and I think he’s either going to spend the rest of his life in prison or he’s going to get the needle. So, hopefully the needle,” said Sheriff Bob Johnson, Santa Rosa County.

Spanevelo was arrested just days later after Cassie’s body was found buried in barn on property his family owns in north Alabama.

2022 saw two of Mobile’s most wanted taken off the streets. First came Hezekiah Belfon -- the accused triggerman in the shooting at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. And then Trenteon King -- the suspect wanted for an alleged shooting that injured two bystanders. King was arrested at the Rangeline Walmart where he’s accused of shoplifting. Both he and Belfon remain in Metro Jail heading into the new year.

And who could forget Vicky and Casey White -- no relation -- the prison guard making a run for it with the inmate. The national manhunt would end in Evansville, Indiana 11 days after the two just walked out of the jail in Lauderdale County Alabama. Vicky taking her own life after police closed in on the couple. Casey taken back to jail to face more charges.

And here along our stretch of the Gulf Coast -- storm season came and went with no major issues this year. No complaints -- we’ll take the break from the worst Mother Nature has to offer.

These are just a handful of the stories that topped our news this year -- we’ll have part two Thursday.

Tragedy in Orange Beach in May -- a family vacationing from Baton Rouge loses their son in the waters. 14-year-old Tyreke Walker pulled under by dangerous rip currents. The community rallying around the family. Tyreke’s body never found.

Fingers crossed -- construction on the new I-10 Bridge and Bayway Project will begin next year. It’s expected to take five years to construct. ALDOT got the go-ahead to move forward. The bridge will have a toll -- but the Wallace and Bankhead Tunnels will remain free options.

Two murders in Mobile just a day apart -- the victims -- both children. 11-year-old LeQuinten Morrissette killed by a stray bullet in his own home. Then a day later -- 14-year-old Ciara Jackson was shot and killed inside a car. Multiple suspects arrested in both cases.

In June -- a desperate plea for answers -- after Tik Tok Star Ophelia Nichols’ son -- 18-year-old Randon Lee was gunned down at a Prichard gas station. Suspect Reuben Gulley is charged with his murder. He turned himself in nearly two months after the crime.

In August local law enforcement mourned the loss of one of their own. Mount Vernon Police Officer Ivan Lopez was killed in a crash in Summerdale when investigators say 31-year-old Tyler Henderson ran a stop sign. They also say Henderson was drunk. He remains free on bond.

After dropping off passengers one last time -- Carnival’s Ecstasy left for its final time from the Port City. The cruise ship’s departure is probably one of the biggest economic hits for Mobile as Carnival Spirit won’t start sailing out of the Alabama Cruise Terminal until October 2023. But it will only operate for six-month stretches.

October also saw crazy weather -- Jason and Matt tracking tornados on live TV. Viewers tuning in on the FOX 10 Weather App -- seeing it all unfold in real time.

“Their coverage -- I was super impressed because they were spot-on. Like Jason said in the video, he’s like it should be coming across the causeway-- and I’m like it is,” recalled Shelly Dumas, who was traveling across the Bayway during the weather event.

From incredible video -- to a gripping story of survival that same down in Bon Secour.

“We crawled out -- I crawled out where that guy is digging from right there. (Bobby) And underneath all that roofing and rubble is where I crawled out,” said Joann Balinsky & Bobby Burns.

Lucky to be alive the mother and son -- all things considered -- walked away with only minor injuries.

A month later -- Fruitdale also in the track of a twister. The hardest hit area -- Fruitdale High School. Repairs are still underway there.

UMS Wright’s Terry Curtis now officially the “GOAT” of Alabama High School Football head coaches. Curtis and his Bulldogs -- setting the new record in the first round of the 5-A playoffs, giving Curtis 347 career wins. Congratulations to him!

The election cycle ended -- with Alabama voters -- giving Governor Kay Ivey another term and overwhelmingly electing Katie Britt as Alabama’s first woman senator heading to Washington. She’s replacing her former boss -- retiring Senator Richard Shelby.

And last but not least... FOX 10′s Hal Scheurich -- covering one of he most viral stories of the year. A case of lost and found - had a snorkeler not only finding some lost dentures -- but returning them to their rightful owner.

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