Mainstreet’s most-viewed stories of 2022

2022 most viewed stories collage
A few of our most-viewed stories online included (clockwise from top left): North Central Florida prepped for Tropical Storm Ian, Florida Finds featured Devil's Millhopper State Park, UF's animal science program opens its meat retail store every Friday and LCPD and GPD joined forces to track down two missing Oklahoma teens.

Following our theme of top 2022 stories, today’s list features Mainstreet’s most-viewed stories, as recorded by Google Analytics.

These stories differ from our top local news stories that we selected for their community impact, these individual articles received a viewership over a short period of time and were either breaking news and/or were stories that went viral on social media.

This is the fourth in our year in review articles that include Mainstreet’s top feature stories and top sports stories of 2022.

Most-read stories of 2022

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1. Alachua, Levy counties prep for Tropical Storm Ian (Sept. 24)

Tree limbs down on 34th Street at the intersection of 39th Avenue in Gainesville. on Thursday (Photo by C.J. Gish)
Photo by C.J. Gish Tree limbs down on 34th Street at the intersection of 39th Avenue in Gainesville following winds from Tropical Storm Ian.

Alachua and Levy County emergency managers called on residents to prepare for Tropical Storm Ian as it headed to Florida. The storm – which elevated into a hurricane – was at one point projected to make landfall in Levy County.

Instead, Ian made landfall 120 miles south of Tampa at Fort Myers and cut a swath of destruction through Central Florida. Alachua County and North Central Florida mostly avoided the storm, but rescue teams from the area responded to the devastation.

2. Accident kills toddler at Ginnie Springs (April 23)

A 1-year-old Lehigh Acres boy died on April 23 when his 26-year-old father ran into him at a Ginnie Springs Outdoors primitive campsite west of High Springs. According to a Florida Highway Patrol report, the boy’s father was driving an SUV and went into reverse and then turned left, not realizing the toddler had entered the vehicle’s path.

3. Meet the Candidates: Eighth Circuit Court (July 4)

The race to fill the open seat on Florida’s Eighth Judicial Circuit featured four candidates after Judge Monica Brasington decided not to run for re-election. 

Following the August primary election that narrowed the group to two, Sean Brewer defeated AuBroncee Martin in the Nov. 8 run-off to claim the seat.  

A helicopter crash claimed the lives of a Bell family west of Bronson on Thursday evening.
Levy County Sheriff's Office A helicopter crash claimed the lives of a Bell family west of Bronson.

4. Bell family perishes in helicopter crash (Dec. 31, 2021)

A Bell family died in a helicopter crash west of Bronson on Dec. 30. The accident claimed the lives of Ronald Hicks, 36; his wife, Shelly Hicks, 32; and their two children, Parker, 8, and Jaylyn, 5.

The family had departed from a private residence southwest of Bronson and was returning home in Gilchrist County when the helicopter went down.

5. GPD arrests 3 tied to missing Gainesville boy (Dec. 26)

The Gainesville Police Department arrested three people in connection to a Gainesville boy who was declared missing on Dec. 22 and found on Christmas night.

Just after 4 a.m. Monday morning, the grandparents of the missing boy, Ean Stephens, were booked into the Alachua County Jail on neglect charges. Another woman, Tiffany Mejia, was charged for interfering with the custody of a minor and various drug related offenses.

6. Florida Finds: Devils Millhopper State Park (Jan. 28)

There’s a National Natural Landmark in Alachua County’s own backyard, and it is there for enjoyment, viewing and hiking year-round. But it’s a particularly special place to be on Saturday mornings when park rangers or volunteers offer a guided walking tour to the famous sinkhole.

I-75 accident at mile marker 404 pickup
Photo courtesy of FHP Five people inside this Chevrolet pickup received minor injuries when a tractor trailer overturned on I-75 near the southbound High Springs 404 exit.

7. 3-vehicle I-75 accident injures 6 (July 7)

Two tractor trailers and a pickup were involved in an I-75 collision that injured six people on July 6. One of the drivers received minor injuries after his tractor trailer overturned, striking the pickup.

8. Collision kills Lake City boy (Oct. 27)

A two-vehicle collision south of Lake City killed a 4-month-old boy on Oct. 27. The accident occurred at the intersection of U.S. 441 and SW Hillcrest Street in Columbia County when a driver failed to stop and collided with the rear end of a sport utility vehicle.

9. Lake City woman dies in single-vehicle accident (Oct. 30)

A Lake City woman drove her SUV off County Road 133, where she collided with a fence and later died. The 45-year-old woman was driving north on CR 133 when she veered and left the roadway. The vehicle traveled through a chain link fence and across a grass yard, where it came to a final rest in the north edge of the yard.

10. 2 bodies discovered in Suwannee County (July 11)

A man and a woman were found shot and killed near Live Oak on July 9. Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office deputies received a 911 call regarding a death at 6:30 a.m. at the intersection of 40th Path and 167th Road.

11. Teen dies in Levy County crash (Nov. 9)

A 17-year-old teen from Old Town died Nov. 9 in a single-vehicle accident in Levy County. The vehicle was traveling north on County Road 207 at a high rate of speed when the driver lost control of the vehicle in a curve.

12. Meet the Candidates: Alachua County Commission (June 23)

The Alachua County Board of County Commissioners had three incumbents running for reelection. 

On Nov. 8, incumbents Ken Cornell and Marihelen Wheeler retained their commissioner seats while Mary Alford defeated incumbent Raemi Eagle-Glenn, whom Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed to the District 1 seat in June after Alford resigned.

13. Fresh cut meat old Fridays at UF (Feb. 11)

The meat retail store is buzzing with customers every Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Buyers flock to the display cases and freezers filled with the outcome of UF animal science class processing labs. The money from the sales helps recoup the cost of the animals and pays the student assistants on staff.

14. RTS bus hits, kills pedestrian on West University (March 11)

A Gainesville Regional Transit System (RTS) bus hit and killed a male pedestrian at the NW 13th Street and West University Avenue intersection on March 10. The bus was traveling north on NW 13 Street and the pedestrian was crossing from west to east at the West University intersection around 7:45 p.m.

15. Newberry to get new restaurant – and likely 2 (Nov. 25)

The Newberry City Commission was poised to take up a development plan for a commercial building that would be home to one and possibly two new restaurants across from Oak View Middle School.

Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak

The proposed site for the building is the corner of US-27 and SW 4th Avenue, which is a vacant lot in between The Blend coffee shop and Oak View Middle School. Days later, local chain Bev’s Burgers confirmed it would occupy the drive-through space.

16. COVID continues to saturate Florida (Aug. 2)

COVID-19 continued to hang on throughout Florida as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed 64 of 67 Florida counties as “high risk” for level of transmission, while the other three counties were at “medium risk.” Florida remained the top state in the nation with 334.6 cases per 100,000 over the previous seven days.

The summer COVID outbreak, which started its surge in May, remained smaller and milder than the omicron surge in January, when 30.7% of Alachua County residents tested positive and local hospitalizations spiked above 300.

17. Bev’s Burgers headed to Newberry (Nov. 30)

Bev's Burgers (pictured in Alachua) will be adding a new location in Newberry across from Oak View Middle School.
Courtesy of Bev's Burgers Bev’s Burgers (pictured in Alachua) will be adding a new location in Newberry across from Oak View Middle School. (Courtesy Bev’s Burgers)

Popular local chain Bev’s Burgers is poised to become the first restaurant to occupy a new commercial building across from Oak View Middle School in Newberry. The news came two days after the Newberry Board of Adjustment—which includes city commissioners and other key staff—approved a development plan for the corner of US-27 and SW 4th Avenue.

18. Meet the Candidates: Gainesville commission (June 22)

Like the mayoral race with nine candidates, Gainesville’s commission seats also had nine candidates running in the August elections.

On Nov. 8, Ward defeated Ed Bielarski to be Gainesville’s new mayor in a runoff, while Casey Willits and Ed Book were voted onto the commission. Bryan Eastman won his commission seat on Aug. 23. 

19. LCPD, GPD find two teens missing from Oklahoma (Nov. 4)

The Lake City Police Department (LCPD) and GPD worked to find two run-away teens from Oklahoma on Nov. 3.

The female cousins, 13-year-old Sagen and 15-year-old Persia, had stolen their grandmother’s car and left Oklahoma City on Oct. 28. The family notified law enforcement officials, who were able to ping the girls’ cellphone to see they were headed south.  

20. 2-vehicle crash kills 1, injures 1 near Williston (Aug. 3)

A two-vehicle collision killed one person and critically injured another along State Road 121 northeast of Williston on Aug. 3.  A 52-year-old man from Williston was driving a pickup south on State Road 121 around 7:15 a.m. when he crossed the center line about a half mile south of NE 65th Street, striking a sedan being driven by a 49-year-old female from Williston head-on.

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Good job, CJ!