TOP 19 of 2019
Ongoing roadworks in the Corporate Area, a divisive leadership election, states of emergency, the crowning of a Jamaican Miss World, and the exploits of Olympic superstar Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. These are just some of the stories that immediately come to mind when the average news buff sits down to think about what would have drawn eyes throughout last year.
But the numbers say different, and today The Sunday Gleaner brings you the Top 19 stories that actually saw the most hits throughout 2019.
You can also log on to bit.do/2019top9 or here where Damion Mitchell will take you through the Top 9.
What were your top stories of the year last year? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your views.
1. JANUARY 13: Miss Universe Jamaica 2014 Finalist Zandrea Bailey Dies
Miss Universe Jamaica 2014 finalist Zandrea Bailey died after a long battle with lupus.
Bailey, 29, died on the morning of January 13 at a New York hospital where she had been admitted for several weeks.
She was diagnosed with lupus in 2012.
In a 2017 interview with Flair Magazine, she recounted how her father helped her through the illness.
“He would sleep on my bed at nights to help me go to the bathroom,” she recounted.
In 2014, Bailey lost her mother to lupus, and that same year, she emerged as a finalist in the Miss Universe Jamaica pageant.
2. JULY 7: Ruel Reid’s ‘Helper’ Speaks …
The woman who was identified as a household helper for not-yet-arrested but discarded education minister, Ruel Reid, claimed she was naively enmeshed in bank transactions involving millions of dollars to which Reid’s family members had access.
The transactions were believed to be central to the Financial Investigations Division probe of activities at the Ministry of Education and several of its agencies, including the Caribbean Maritime University and the National Education Trust.
3. MAY 28: Martin Henry Collapses, Dies Shortly After Live TV Appearance
Gleaner columnist and university administrator Martin Henry died suddenly, collapsing moments after leaving the studios of Television Jamaica’s Prime Time News where he eulogised former Prime Minister Edward Seaga.
He was rushed to the Medical Associates Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
4. JANUARY 14: Olympian Kaliese Spencer Weds Pastor
The start of 2019 brought a matrimonial beginning for Jamaican Olympian Kaliese Spencer and the love of her life, the Reverend Michael A. Carter.
Spencer, a 400m hurdler, has had a successful career holding one of the best records on the lucrative Diamond League Circuit, racking up four championship diamonds. But in January 2019, in her off season, she decided to run a different race.
5. APRIL 25: Missing Teacher Samuel Martin Found Dead In Clarendon
The decomposing body of 41-year-old teacher Samuel Martin was found in bushes in Juno Crescent, May Pen, Clarendon, almost a week after he had gone missing on Good Friday.
Head of the Clarendon Police, Senior Superintendent Vendolyn Cameron Powell, said Martin’s body was discovered about 10 o’clock in the morning during a search in an area that was isolated and covered with vegetation.
6. AUGUST 3: JDF soldiers save female student
A female student of the Flanker Skills Training Institute in Montego Bay, St James, was fortunate to be alive, thanks to a team of quick-thinking Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) soldiers.
The student reportedly lost consciousness and passed out during a meeting at the institution, but the soldiers, who were visiting the facility, saw what was happening and immediately sprang into action. They picked her up, rushed her to their service vehicle, and took her to Cornwall Regional Hospital’s expanded Accident and Emergency Department, located in downtown Montego Bay.
7. NOVEMBER 11: Bust-Up At Bustamante – PNP Councillor, Doctor Clash
A clash between People’s National Party (PNP) Councillor Kari Douglas and a medical doctor at the Bustamante Hospital for Children exploded into an expletive-laden tirade and near-brawl, triggering a temporary shutdown of the Accident and Emergency unit.
Dr Judith Francis Bogle declined to give details of the confrontation but said she had requested an immediate transfer from the institution because of the constant abuse staff face from patients and parents.
After the article was published, the PNP said it would be investigating the incident. Douglas subsequently apologised, but accused some members of the party of actively being involved in leaking the story.
8. APRIL 11: Killer Hubby Was Serial Abuser – Years Of Beating End Tragically In Murder-Suicide
“Me just want to kiss mi mother.”
That was the pithy utterance from a 12-year-old girl as she stared listlessly while in the middle of Willow Drive, outside her Kingston 11 home, orphaned after witnessing her father gun down her mom on the sidewalk along Waltham Park Road.
Glassy-eyed and shell-shocked, she sat on the steps of an entrance room, seemingly replaying the gruesome incident moments earlier, about 7:30 a.m., when, despite her screams to her mom, Rouleene Clarke Gowans, to run for her life, Patrick Gowans shot her fatally at point-blank range before killing himself.
The preteen, who was scheduled to sit a test, said the Gowanses’ marriage had unravelled into a tempestuous tug of war filled with threats and beatings, a narrative corroborated by Clarke Gowans’ family. They describe the enraged father as a possessive and obsessive serial abuser who beat 42-year-old Clarke Gowans regularly.
The couple were both correctional officers.
9. AUGUST 23: Jamaican Man Detained In US For 82 Days Over Honey
Jamaican Leon Haughton likes honey in his tea and, during his Christmas visit to relatives in Jamaica, he made his regular stop and bought three bottles from a favourite roadside stand before heading home to Maryland in the United States.
It was a routine purchase for Haughton until he landed at the airport in Baltimore, customs officers detained him and police arrested him, accusing him of smuggling in, not honey, but liquid methamphetamine or meth.
Haughton spent nearly three months in jail before all charges were dropped and two rounds of law-enforcement lab tests showed no controlled substances in the bottles.
10. MAY 28: Death of Edward Seaga
Edward Philip George Seaga, Jamaica’s fifth prime minister and longest-serving member of parliament, died in a Miami hospital where he had been receiving treatment for cancer and related complications. He died on his birthday.
Seaga was the last surviving framer of the Jamaican Constitution.
11. FEBRUARY 23: UWI Law Society Faces Heat Over ‘Vulgar’ Photos
The Mona Law Society at The University of the West Indies came under fire from at least one senior member of the law fraternity for the posting of photographs of some female law students in skimpy clothing on its Instagram social-media page.
The story, after being published on The Gleaner’s front page, sparked heated debate on social media and radio airwaves, with a clear divide between supporters and detractors of the pictures posted as a part of the Mr and Miss Law 2019 competition, which was held under a dancehall theme.
12. SEPTEMBER 21: Teacher mauled by dogs
A grade-six teacher was left battling for life after she was mauled by a pack of pit bull dogs on September 19, but her story did not become public until two days later.
The St Richard’s Primary School teacher was reportedly heard screaming for help “for hours” while she was being mauled by at least four dogs on Woodland Way in Coopers Hill, St Andrew.
13. MAY 13: Run Off ... 10,626 Jamaicans With B1/B2 US Visas Overstayed In 2018, Homeland Security Reports
A total of 10,626 Jamaicans overstayed their United States (US) non-immigrant tourism/business (B1/B2) visas between October 1, 2017, and September 30, 2018, a US Department of Homeland Security report revealed.
This was a jump by 1,073 when compared to the corresponding period in the previous year, according to the agency’s fiscal year 2018 Entry/Exit Overstay Report.
14. MAY 13: It Was A Terrible Sight ... Clarendon Schoolgirl Found Murdered In Four Paths
The May Pen High School was thrust into mourning following the murder of 17-year-old Stefica Smith, the third schoolgirl to have been killed over a four-week period. Smith had gone missing just days before her body was found in bushes in Four Paths, Clarendon.
15. MAY 28: Policeman In Custody Following Wife’s Murder In St Mary
A police corporal on the morning of May 28 allegedly shot and killed his wife at their house in Tower Isle, St Mary. The dead woman was identified as 45-year-old Janet Hardie-Lawrence, and it was alleged that the two had been engaged in an argument when gunshots were heard.
Corporal Kirk Lawrence has since been charged with his wife’s murder.
16. MARCH 22: Calabar Teacher Files Police Report On Assault By Athletes
Calabar physics teacher Sanjaye Shaw formally reported to the police a December 15, 2018 assault he allegedly suffered at the hands of some of the schools top athletes. But at a press conference, he said he would not be pressing charges.
Shaw, who headed Calabar’s Physics Department when this story first came to national attention, is no longer at the school.
17. MAY 16: Paula Kerr Jarrett ties the knot
Montego Bay businesswoman Paula Kerr Jarrett exchanged vows with New York business mogul Daniel Wegman in the United States. The ceremony was very intimate, as close family members gathered for the occasion. Paula’s children Josh and Rebecca, as well as Wegman’s children, were in attendance.
18. OCTOBER 9: Ruel Reid, Wife And Fritz Pinnock Among Five Arrested In Corruption Probe
Former Education Minister Ruel Reid and two members of his family were among five people arrested in the Caribbean Maritime University-education ministry corruption probe.
Along with Reid, those arrested were his wife, Sharen; their daughter, Sharelle; president of the Caribbean Maritime University, Professor Fritz Pinnock; and Kim Brown Lawrence, councillor for the Brown’s Town division.
The arrests came after a months-long probe involving the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency, the Financial Investigations Division and the Constabulary Financial Unit of the Counter-Terrorism and Organised Crime Division.
Reid resigned on March 20 amid the corruption allegations and, a day before his arrest, Pinnock was sent on special leave with immediate effect pending the outcome of the probe. The accused are to return to court on January 23.
19. JULY 16 : Lockdown – Jamaicans Go Into Hiding As News Of Sweeping Deportation Raids Drives Fear Into Immigrants
As heightened levels of fear gripped immigrants in anticipation of mass sweeps by the United States (US) Immigration and Customs Enforcement, two Jamaicans – one living in the US for 15 years and another for nine – told of how they had been forced to make dramatic changes to their routines, locking themselves away from even relatives to limit the chances of falling into the dragnet.