Top 10 Georgia stories of 2014

Top 10 Georgia stories of 2014

By Phillip Lucas, Associated Press | Posted - Dec. 27, 2014 at 7:50 a.m.


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ATLANTA (AP) — Inches of snow, miles of traffic

One of the top stories of 2014 came just weeks into the new year, when a winter storm brought metro Atlanta and other parts of the Southeast to a frigid, frustrated crawl. A Jan. 28 storm caused a mass exit from downtown Atlanta and several suburban corporate hubs that clogged interstates for miles. Thousands of people lost power, untold numbers of drivers and children were stuck on roads and freeways overnight. State and local officials traded blame for the preparation and response that was widely criticized as inadequate in a city and region that capitalizes on its reputation as a logistics and industrial transportation hub. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal later created a winter weather task force for a more unified response in the future.

Film crew member killed in train crash

A camera assistant working on an Allman brothers biopic was killed Feb. 20 when a freight train came barreling down tracks the crew was filming on in southeast Georgia. The family of the slain camera assistant, Sarah Jones, 27, filed a lawsuit against 10 people and eight corporations after her death. A settlement with several defendants was announced in late November. Gregg Allman had been named as a defendant, but was dropped from the suit in October since he wasn't involved in the decision to film on active railroad tracks.

Shooter wounds 6 at FedEx facility before committing suicide

A 19-year-old man who described himself as a sexually frustrated sociopath shot several co-workers at a FedEx facility before killing himself. Cobb County police have said Geddy Kramer was armed with a shotgun and homemade explosives in the April 29 attack at the package sorting center where he worked. Six people were injured, but there were no fatalities.

Man beheaded, wife found in lake

The deaths of Russell and Shirley Dermond, who were killed in a particularly grisly — and unsolved — homicide, sent shockwaves throughout their gated community on Lake Oconee that became national news. Putnam County sheriff's officials have said the headless body of Russell Dermond, 88, was found inside the couple's lakefront home in early May. The body of Shirley Dermond, 87, was later pulled from Lake Oconee. Investigators haven't yet announced a potential motive in their deaths.

Cobb County father accused of leaving son in hot car

A 22-month-old boy died June 18 after spending roughly seven hours in the backseat of a stifling SUV parked in Cobb County while his father was at work. Justin Ross Harris was charged with malice murder and cruelty to children. Investigators later revealed Harris executed Internet searches on child-free living and exchanged sexually explicit texts with several young women — including a teenager — while his son sat dying in the parking lot. Harris has pleaded not guilty.

Georgia gets green light to expand Savannah harbor

Georgia officials cleared the final hurdles blocking the state from moving forward with a plan to expand the Port of Savannah, which is one of the busiest shipping hubs in the county. The expansion was beset by 15 years of studies, lawsuits, bureaucratic delays and more. Port expansion is expected to make room for supersized cargo ships that will begin traveling through the expanded Panama Canal.

Ebola patients brought to Atlanta

Four health care and aid workers who contracted Ebola were treated at Emory University Hospital while an outbreak of the virus killed thousands in west Africa. Since the patients were brought to Atlanta, six Georgia hospitals aside from Emory announced plans to build specialized Ebola treatment and containment units, though state health officials have thus far declined to name the facilities.

Executives accused of putting profit over food safety face prison time

The former owner of Peanut Corporation of America, his brother and another co-defendant face prison time for distributing peanut butter that led to a major salmonella outbreak in 2008 and 2009. The outbreak killed nine people and led to one of the biggest food recalls in American history. Stewart Parnell was convicted of knowingly shipping bad products to customers. The jury also found Parnell and his food broker brother, Michael Parnell, guilty of faking results of lab tests meant to screen for salmonella. Stewart Parnell and Mary Wilkerson, the plant's quality control manager, were both convicted of obstruction of justice for withholding information from investigators.

Banker, fraudster found alive and sentenced to prison

A Georgia banker who vanished and was wrongly declared dead after defrauding more than 100 clients out of roughly $40 million was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Aubrey Lee Price, who vanished in summer 2012, was arrested during a traffic stop in late December 2013 and was sentenced in late October. Price pleaded guilty to three federal fraud counts, saying he lied to clients and gave them fake financial statements to cover his tracks as he lost money in high-risk investments.

Georgia Democrats come up short in midterms

Shifting demographics and name recognition for Georgia's top Democratic candidates were expected to make for tight races for governor and an open U.S. Senate seat. Despite predictions for runoffs, Michelle Nunn and state Sen. Jason Carter lost their bids for senate and governor in November while Democrats took a beating on a national level. Rep. John Barrow — the last white Democratic congressman serving in the Deep South — was also ousted from Congress.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Phillip Lucas

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