Here is the diverse mix of stories that most captured Seattle Times readers' attention.
From tragic to trivial, seattletimes.com readers devoured an eclectic mix of stories in 2015.
This year’s most-read stories ranged from a fatal crash on the Aurora Bridge to millions of bees swarming I-5. And oddly enough, a 2012 story about a 76-year-old woman recalling her brief moment of fame as a model for a racy 1965 record-album cover surged back to prominence. Thanks, Facebook, for keeping things interesting around here (especially for some who went through puberty in the ’60s, apparently).
1. One Seattle Children’s doctor thinks he’s close to stopping SIDS
This year’s most-read story profiled a doctor determined to combat a cruel illness. Columnist Nicole Brodeur detailed Seattle Children’s anesthesiologist Daniel Rubens’ quest to determine the cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, which Brodeur reported causes some 4,000 deaths a year. In the comments section, readers told moving stories of how SIDS had affected their lives.
2. Ride the Ducks vehicle collides with bus on Aurora Bridge
Hundreds of thousands of readers followed coverage of the Ride the Ducks crash and offered thoughts and prayers to those affected.
The wreck killed five, injured many and forced the closure of the Aurora Bridge.
Recently, the state Utilities and Transportation Commission found more than 400 safety violations, but said some Ride the Ducks vehicles should be allowed to return to the road. (Mayor Ed Murray demurred.)
This week, crews began testing the amphibious vehicles to prepare for a routine Coast Guard inspection. There’s no estimated date for when the testing phase will end, or when full operations will resume.
3. Black Lives Matter protesters shut down Bernie Sanders; later rally draws 15,000
Seattle got a surprising 15 minutes of national attention in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election, when Black Lives Matter protesters shut down a rally that featured Bernie Sanders. The activists called Seattle “racist” and accused the audience of “white supremacist liberalism.” The demonstration prompted questions about protest tactics, Sanders’ progressive credentials and Seattle attitudes toward race and racism.
4. Which Seahawk are you?
For all the Seahawks adoration in the Puget Sound region, it was perhaps surprising to see only a few stories about our fated football team climb the charts this year. The top, our Seahawks personality quiz, allowed 12s to test which gridiron hero they most resembled.
5. 14 million spilled bees on I-5: ‘Everybody’s been stung’
Who could forget the viral #beenado? Millions of bees spilled out onto the freeway after a semitruck carrying more than 400 hives rolled onto I-5. Beekeepers scrambled to recover hives as TV reporters swatted at the pesky insects during on-air commentary. As the sun rose, firefighters had to douse the increasingly-agitated bees, leaving clumps of the six-legged creatures dead in the roadway. (Speaking of retrospectives, the beenado made our list of the worst Seattle-area traffic jams of 2015.)
6. Seahawks lost because of the worst call in Super Bowl history
Columnist Jerry Brewer did not mince words when it came to the Super Bowl’s deciding play “the worst call in Super Bowl history.” Brewer hit a populist chord, wondering why the Seahawks declined to feed the beast, Marshawn Lynch, one of the NFL’s top running backs. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said in later interviews that he didn’t regret the play call.
7. Herb Alpert’s ‘Whipped Cream Lady’ now 76, living in Longview and looking back
An oldie but a goodie? In 2012, reporter Erik Lacitis caught up with then 76-year-old Dolores Erickson, who years ago posed seemingly naked and covered in whipped cream (it was actually shaving cream) for the cover of the 1965 Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass album “Whipped Cream & Other Delights.” The subtle album cover seems to delight fans to this day, and the story has whipped social media into a frenzy several times since.
8. Strange but true: Mammoth catfish caught in Italy, and great white shark lurking off Washington coast
Everybody loves a good fish tale, but add a great white shark into the mix and you’re clearly angling for some serious web traffic.
Outdoors writer Mark Yuasa’s post about a 280-pound catfish caught in Italy and a great white shark thought to be prowling the Washington coast (it was said to have bitten a seal in half), became a reader favorite.
9. State Supreme Court: Charter schools are unconstitutional
We should call this the little story that could. Yes, the important court decision on charter schools left parents scrambling and educators faced with a vexing problem as schools opened. The story faced long odds when it broke Friday afternoon of Labor Day weekend, a time that most readers are focused on cookouts, boat cruises and soaking up that fleeting Seattle sunshine. Immense readership on a holiday weekend must show Seattleites love their kids and are keenly interested in their future … or something.
10. Woman seeking man she kissed at marathon hears from his wife
That’s one helluva headline. The drama! The intrigue! Is this a romantic comedy or real-life soap opera?
Actually, it was a sweet story about a woman runner from Tennessee who laid a smooch on an unsuspecting, random fellow along a portion of the Boston Marathon route known to offer free kisses to runners.
The runner’s daughter tried to find the guy on social media, and her mom eventually received a letter from the man’s wife, who said she had “thoroughly enjoyed watching (friends) give my husband grief!” after the PDA incident. How nice.
… and here’s what you commented on the most
Best of 2015
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Readers found plenty of fodder for political brawling, bloviating and cheering in our raucous comment sections. (Take a look at the more than 2,000 comments on the Black Lives Matter protest at Sanders’ rally.)
Many cheered the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage and reflected on the long road traveled by gay and lesbian leaders. The top comment: “A beautiful day for Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
Meanwhile, a national religious debate about the separation of church and state played out in the region as a Bremerton coach’s practice of praying at high-school football games polarized readers. When Satanists attended the game, they only added fuel (and more than 1,000 comments) to the fire.
The San Bernardino massacre prompted thousands of comments as readers debated gun violence, extremism and national security.
Danny Westneat’s column about the draft ideas of Mayor Ed Murray’s advisory committee on housing struck a local nerve. Readers engaged deeply in the debate about affordability and density in Seattle.
As other governors pushed to keep Syrian refugees out, Gov. Jay Inslee’s open welcome provoked more than 1,000 comments from readers.
We didn’t just talk politics, though.
Several outpourings of grief on Jerry Brewer’s worst-play-call column, which received more than 1,500 comments, read like tear-washed poetry (“And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout; But there is no joy in Seattle — mighty Beast Mode was left out.”)
Meanwhile, Ron Judd’s essay, “If you weren’t born in Seattle or the Northwest, you’ll never be one of us” stirred passion from locals and transplants alike on what it means to be from here and how to define Pacific Northwest identity.
Perhaps an interest in news of giant fish, a plethora of bees, Satanists and the whipped cream lady could be considered part of the qualification process.