(WTNH) — From scandals and homicides to heart-felt reunions and goodbyes, 2022 was jam-packed with some of the biggest stories to-date.
As the year comes to a close, we took a look back at the most impactful stories at WTNH, broken down per month. Does anything ring a bell? And more importantly, will it go on to be remembered?
Here are the top stories of 2022:
The year kicked-off with a dismal start; a Fairfield hockey player died due to injuries sustained during a game in Greenwich, and three teenagers overdosed at a school in Hartford.
The Bridgeport community called on police to investigate the death of Lauren Smith-Fields, sparking rallies for the missing woman, and a fight involving racial slurs broke out at a smoothie shop.
The wrong-way driver fatality trend sparked in February after two people were left dead following a wrong-way crash on I-91. One of the drivers was a student at Southern Connecticut State University.
February also made us delve into the question of why certain people chose not to get the COVID-19 vaccine. A series, dubbed Faces of the Unvaccinated, showcased community members like nurses, doctors, and teachers who strayed away from the vaccine.
March was all about gas prices. As the numbers went up, people were feeling the impact everywhere. We talked to everyone from farmers and delivery drivers to restaurant and business owners.
April brought on more tragedy as two brothers — a 19-year-old and 17-year-old — were killed in a car crash in Branford. The brothers were the sons of News 8’s own Capital Report anchor Tom Dudchick.
Throughout the month, we also highlighted unsolved missing person cases, some of whom have been missing for years – or even decades. The list included missing people from all Connecticut counties, with details about their disappearance.
April brought on the increase of bears, with sightings at an all-time high. More than 1,200 bears were waking up across the state, with the largest sightings in West Hartford.
As the weather warmed-up, crime increased. A 17-year-old Fairfield College Preparatory School student from Shelton was fatally stabbed outside of a house party. During the incident, four people in total were stabbed, and the accused 16-year-old suspect was charged with murder.
Another big talker of the month was a Memorial Day beach brawl that broke out at Milford’s Walnut Beach, causing overwhelming crowding and unruly behavior.
A New Canaan officer was under fire for his connection to an investigation at a dog training facility in Naugatuck where numerous dogs were abused and injured, including 10 dogs shot and killed on the property. Multiple people were arrested and the 31 remaining dogs were relocated from the facility.
Amid the chaos, May also brought the story of an 18-year-old Rocky Hill High School graduate who opened her own restaurant, making her one of the youngest in the business.
New Haven police made headlines in June after Randy Cox, who was arrested on a weapons charge that was later dropped, was placed in a police van without seatbelts. When the driver swerved to avoid an accident, Cox flew out of the seat head-first and smashed his head into the wall. Although he begged for help, he did not receive medical assistance and was left paralyzed.
A North Haven wedding venue left dozens of couples outraged after cancelling all booked weddings in June, just days before the engaged couples’ big day.
June also brought the year’s first fatal case of Powassan virus. A woman in New London died after becoming sick in early May following a tick bite.
Randy Cox was at the forefront again in July as his family secured prominent civil rights attorney Ben Crump. All five officers involved in the incident were charged, and Cox’s family is currently seeking $100 million in a civil case.
As the COVID-19 pandemic trudged on, Connecticut residents were left with a new worry: monkeypox. The first case was identified in July, officially putting the virus on everyone’s radar.
This tear-jerking story hit hearts across the state; a little girl’s final wish was made possible at Lighthouse Point Park. The four-year-old, who was bedridden in the hospital, always loved the water and beach, so the community brought her to see the waves for one of her final moments.
Four educators were charged with failing to report abuse or neglect of students by a former Plymouth Center School teacher in August. The accused 51-year-old teacher, who taught third and fourth grade, was charged with two counts of fourth-degree sexual assault and five counts of risk of injury for alleged incidents that took place during the 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2019-20 school years.
Another educator made headlines for their discriminatory hiring practices. A civil rights investigation was launched after a Greenwich elementary school’s assistant principal was accused of not hiring Catholics, conservatives, or older applicants.
Rattlesnakes popped-up on everyone’s radar to end the summer months after two dogs were bit in Glastonbury. Thankfully, both dogs were released back to their family after undergoing surgery.
Infowars conspiracist Alex Jones took the lead in September. A jury determined how much he would have to pay after spreading a lie that the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a hoax.
Bears were back in action again this month when a black bear crashed a two-year-old’s birthday party in West Hartford, helping himself to some cupcakes.
Customers became frustrated when M&T Bank merged with People’s United Bank. Many people were left locked out of their accounts, without access to their ATM cards.
In one of the biggest stories of the entire year, two Bristol police officers were tragically killed after responding to a reported domestic violence call. Sgt. Dustin DeMonte, 35, and Officer Alex Hamzy, 34, were shot to death, while Officer Alec Iurato was injured.
Hundreds of officers and law enforcement officials across both the country and globe traveled to Connecticut to pay their respects to the fallen officers.
Sgt. DeMonte and Officer Hamzy were both posthumously promoted.
November means Election Day. The local Connecticut election was the most talked-about topic this month.
Democrat Ned Lamont won the 2nd term as Connecticut’s Governor, defeating Republic Bob Stefanowski, following a campaign battle focused on abortion access, crime, and cost of living.
In the Senate, Democrat Richard Blumenthal won his 3rd Senate term, fending off a challenge from first-time candidate Leora Levy, a Republican who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump.
In another hot race, Democrat Jahana Hayes won reelection in Connecticut’s 5th Congressional District. She defeated Republican George Logan, a former state senator who repeatedly linked her with President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The Naugatuck community gathered together after an 11-month-old girl was brutally murdered by her father. After two weeks on-the-run, the accused father was taken into custody in Waterbury after a local citizen called in an anonymous tip.
A Milford officer underwent an investigation after police said he failed to gather more information in order to obtain an arrest warrant for a man who then went on to allegedly kill his ex-girlfriend.
Tragedy continued as a North Haven firefighter died in the line of duty last week. Firefighter Matthias Wirtz, who had been a member of the department for 22 years, died of heart disease.
While 2022 definitely had its fair share of tragedy, it also gave viewers some heart-warming moments and reasons to smile.
In 2023, News 8 will strive to continue to bring you the best coverage on all local news.
Here’s to a new year of stories.