Delmarva’s most memorable stories of 2014

From a string of shootings and the tragic death of a well-known Delawarean, to weather and rocket disasters, the past twelve months on Delmarva have been unforgettable.

Delaware:

On May 22, an EF-1 tornado touched down in the Camden-Wyoming area, destroying more than a dozen homes and injuring two people.

“There was just a roaring sound, white, trees, crashing everywhere,” said Chris Ford, in an interview on the day after the storm. His home was one of the dozen damaged.

The aftermath of the 100 mile-per-hour winds forced the community to come together, and the Marydel Fire Department to come to residents’ aid.

“You see something like this, I mean you sort of wonder,” said Governor Jack Markell (D-DE) on the day after the storm. “But for the grace of God, imagine what may have happened.

In August, tragedy struck in Sussex County in August, stunning restaurant staff and community members statewide.

Matt Haley, a beloved restaurateur and local icon, died while in India on a six-week mission trip, doing what he loved, helping people.

“When you look in the sky at night, you’re going to see a shining star, that’s our Matt.”

The annual Punkin Chunkin event took participants through a rollercoaster throughout 2014, and broke the hearts of many gourd hurlers across the state when it was postponed until 2015.

The event was first plagued with a lawsuit, which forced organizers to move the event from Sussex County to Dover International Speedway. After that, the event was cancelled. Shortly after, President John Huber formally announced his resignation.

Maryland:

On Maryland’s Eastern Shore, many eyes were on Wicomico County between February and March. During just that two-month period, there were three officer-involved shootings.

“I think it’s an example of the danger police officers face here every day,” said Greg Shipley with the Maryland State Police in an interview, after a Delmar man, Edwin Fletcher, drove on top of a police car and injured two officers in Salisbury.

While two of the officer-involved shootings were fatal, none of the officers involved were injured.

After the national coverage of decisions not to indict the officers who killed Eric Garner and Michael Brown, concerns for officer-safety slowly turned to concerns for the public for some residents.

One peaceful protest at the Salisbury Christmas parade, quickly broke out in fights and arrests.

“We thought it was necessary to disrupt the normal order of life for everybody so they could hear what’s going on inside our community,” said Khalil Shabazz in an interview after the protest.

There were some big upsets in 2014 in both the primary and general elections. Eckhardt after almost 20 years in office.

In the general election, the District 38 B representative for 28 years, Delegate Norman Conway, lost to Republican Carl Anderton.

Virginia:

However, it was the sight of the Antares rocket exploding during a launch at NASA’s Wallops Island that caught the eyes of the country.

While there were no injuries, the catastrophe led to contamination in soil and nearby waters, along with a whopping 20 million dollars of damage to the flight facility’s launch pad.

“Hopefully it won’t do any economic damage to the area, I do expect to see some, but I hope it’s very, very, short term,” says Denise Bowden, Public Information Officer for the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company.

The Accomack arson saga is far from over.

Tonya Bundick was found guilty twice in court on three counts for two different arson fires in 2013. She was sentenced to 10.5 years in prison.

The next trial for one of her remaining 62 counts, with a new attorney, is set for April of 2015.

Categories: Crime, Delaware, Events Stories, Local News, Maryland, Virginia