While COVID-19 coverage may have dominated the Canadian media this year, Hope Standard readers were more interested in the tragedies, breaking news and oddities in their community.
The passing of Highway Thru Hell star and tow truck driver Ken Monkhouse was the top read story of 2020, with fans from across the world and within the trucking community expressing their condolences after his passing in May. The seventh top read story was also about the loss of a community member – the sudden passing of longtime Hope educator John Koopman in May.
The disappearance of Spuzzum resident April Parisian in early April, and subsequent massive search effort organized by the family, were of keen interest to our online readers. Five of the top 50 stories read on our website this year were about Parisian and her family’s search efforts, which stretched into the fall. Family are still hard at work, fundraising to have billboards erected to inform passing motorists that their loved one is still missing.
“Her birthday is one day before mine, hers is on the 23rd of April and I’m on the 24th, and we always celebrated together and this year it didn’t happen,” said Parisian’s mother Keitha at a candlelight vigil for for her daughter in May. “I can’t talk about her anymore because it hurts me too much. My spirit hurts, I want her home. Even if she’s into the spirit world I want to have her back here so we can take care of her properly.”
Other breaking news stories were on the top 50 list including highway closures, suspects using counterfeit cash at Hope businesses, a local drug bust and even a warning about a man hiking naked at the Ladner Creek Trestle. Some of these stories ended in tragedy – a man was killed after being struck by a semi truck on Highway 1 one dark night in May, another man has yet to be found after being swept into the Coquihalla River July 2.
Readers were also reading about news of the death of Jonathan Mayers in an ATV accident Aug. 4, the 17th most read story this year. The 29-year-old was remembered as a young ‘hooligan’ who became a dedicated family man whose mind was never far from those he loved. “John didn’t care who you were, or what walks of life, he didn’t care if you were rich or poor…if you wanted to be his friend and you’re a good person, that’s all he cared about,” his mother Tracy remembered.
Some odd goings on also caught your attention, such as the day when a suspicious package prompted the evacuation of the Hope RCMP detachment. Brought in by a man who found it in a storage locker, wrapped in various layers of smudged plastic and packing tape, the package contained a field phone battery from World War II with German wording and a symbol of an eagle clutching the Nazi Party’s swastika emblem.
The District of Hope and its first Rambo chainsaw carving got a nod from Sylvester ‘Sly’ Stallone himself, a story that landed at number 26 of 50. This news was covered worldwide, with entertainment news sites as far away as France and major news outlets in B.C. writing about the unveiling of the carving, bringing some more fame to the hometown of First Blood.
Readers also loved hearing about the volunteer effort that saw 1,700 pounds of garbage carted away from Jones Lake on October, a story that was the 46th most read story this year.
And, of course, coverage of COVID-19 made the top 50 read stories, yet fewer than perhaps would be expected. Two stories, one on the number of healthcare workers testing positive for COVID-19 and another a March 23 plea from local doctors and nurses for people to stay home unless absolutely necessary, made the top 50 list.
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