• These were Channel 9's 18 most-read local stories of 2018

    By: Jason Kelly

    Updated:

    ORLANDO, Fla. - From tragedy to triumph to scandal, there was no shortage of compelling stories in Central Florida during 2018. These were the 18 most popular local stories on wftv.com this year:

     

    18. 1 killed, 4 injured in shootout in south Orange County, deputies say

    © 2019 Cox Media Group.

    Deputies said an 83-year-old woman was killed and four others were injured during a shootout in south Orange County.

     

    17. Former teacher accused of having sex with New Smyrna Beach 8th-grader

    A former New Smyrna Beach Middle School teacher was arrested Wednesday on charges of having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old student and sending him nude photos, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office said.

    Deputies said a former New Smyrna Beach Middle School teacher was arrested after having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old student and sending him nude photos.

     

    16. Orlando family finds itself feet away from stealthy alligator

    A Lake Nona family was unknowingly playing just feet away from a real alligator. Screen grab courtesy of video by Nicole Mojica.

    An Orlando woman said her family was playing in a Lake Nona backyard while an alligator was lurking feet away.

     

    15. Officials: Hepatitis A case identified in Morimoto Asia restaurant worker; vaccines encouraged

    © 2019 Cox Media Group.

    Health officials said a hepatitis A infection was identified in a food service worker at the Morimoto Asia restaurant at Walt Disney World's Disney Springs complex.

     

    14. Woman drowns after getting caught in rip current on Cocoa Beach

    © 2019 Cox Media Group.

    An Oklahoma woman drowned after getting caught in a rip current at Cocoa Beach.

     

    13. Florida's new laws that took effect July 1 (and one law that didn't)

    © 2019 Cox Media Group.

    The new statutes had effects on Floridians of all ages, from bullying in schools to providing further protections for seniors.

     

    12. Officers shoot, kill unarmed man at ORMC claiming to have gun, police say

    Police fatally shot a man who claimed to have a weapon inside Orlando Regional Medical Center.

     

    11. Deputies: Mother walks into Animal Kingdom Lodge claiming she was handed abandoned newborn

    Deputies said a woman walked into the Animal Kingdom Lodge's lobby, claiming someone had handed her a newborn baby outside, but the child turned out to be her own.

     

    10. Report: Orange County pastor had sex with underage church member

    Billy Leveille is a pastor accused of having sex with a teen, investigators said
    © 2019 Cox Media Group.

    Records said an Orange County pastor engaged in sexual activity with a 17-year-old.

     

    9. Police: Man shot after refusing shot at Ocoee bar

    © 2019 Cox Media Group.

    Police said a man shot another man in the foot at a bar after the victim refused a shot of alcohol that the gunman had offered him.

     

    8. Disney guest injured on tube ride at Typhoon Lagoon water park

    Guests float along Castaway Creek, the lazy river at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
    Preston Mack/Walt Disney World Resort

    Deputies said a Walt Disney World guest was flown to the hospital after he was injured on a tube ride at the Typhoon Lagoon water park.

     

    7. Forest High School shooting

    Sky Bouche, 19, is accused of shooting a student inside Forest High School
    © 2019 Cox Media Group.

    Panic and fear gripped Forest High School near Ocala when a suspect opened fire, wounding one student.

     

    6. 7 days, 13 homicides mark violent mid-July for Central Florida

    Between Saturday and Thursday, investigators in several Central Florida counties have been called to ten homicide scenes, resulting in 13 deaths.

    The middle of July will be remembered as a violent time in Central Florida.

     

    5. 'Leave body parts at entrance': Bartow MS girls planned to kill classmates, drink their blood, police say

    © 2019 Cox Media Group.

    Police said two Bartow Middle School students came to school with knives and planned to attack students.

     

    4. Back at it: Disney passholder displays pro-Trump signs at park, gets banned again

    © 2019 Cox Media Group.

    A man who was banned from Walt Disney World for unfurling a giant political banner at the Magic Kingdom has been banned again.

     

    3. Lake County teen gets trapped in tree after being chased by aggressive alligator, deputies say

    A Lake County teenager was chased up a tree by an aggressive alligator that was later fatally shot by a deputy.

     

    2. Hurricane Michael

    Joyce Walker sits on her porch in front fallen trees outside her home in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
    Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

    Hurricane Michael battered Florida's Panhandle, bringing with it destructive 155 mph winds and life-threatening storm surge. Its winds ripped apart homes, and feet of storm surge left homes underwater.

     

    1. Florida midterms

    After a trio of recounts, the 2018 Florida midterm elections secured Florida Gov. Rick Scott a Senate victory, former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis a gubernatorial victory and Nikki Fried an agriculture commissioner victory.

     

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